I have been inshore fishing just over 5 years. When I started posting reports on Captain Mel, I was giving out many specifics, including exact spots. After a while, the "administrators" over there came up with a policy regarding not giving out exact locations or taking pictures that showed recognizable areas. I was incensed and argued what is the harm. Year later I realize that they were correct in this decision. Not only was I shooting myself in the foot, but I was also possibly exposing the same exact spot that other anglers had found, but never disclosed to others.
When I started years ago, I was lucky enough to hook up with flaswimbaiter. He taught me more about inshore fishing and became my mentor. We would often fish the SS flats every weekend and had some incredible days out there. He turned me onto the Rip Tide Mullet and the rest is history. I would post reports about our exploits and enjoyed writing about them and sharing with others. Eventually I came to realize that I wasn't doing myself or others any favors by posting specifics . The fishing pressure in my spots increased. My fishing success started to decrease. I was not catching the numbers or quality of fish like I was in the past.
People would contact me and offer to pay for gas or take me out on their boat. I took some up on their offers and took them to my areas. Unfortunately, I wouldn't hear from a lot of them again. They just wanted to know my spots. People would contact me for info and I gave it to them. The next weekend I would go to my spots and there they were. It was my own fault. A guy on Florida Sportsman contacted me after my last post and he wanted info on where I was catching fish. I politefully declined and gave him my reasoning. If everybody practiced catch and release, maybe not on all fish, but most fish, then that would be one thing. Unfortunately, we have too many people that keep everything they catch and I mean everything.
That brings to mind the guy who posted recently about catching a slot snook, but throwing it back because he was too cheap to buy a snook stamp. As some correctly pointed out, snook season was closed. So my thinking is that if he wasn't cheap and had the snook stamp, he would have kept that snook even though the season is closed. WTF! That is just pure ignorance to the regs. So many people don't follow them. If everybody did, the fishing would be so much better. By the way, do you remember the mess of fish he was holding up on that stringer? It was a ton of fish, including the only red he caught. Like he really needed to keep that snook with over 20 pounds of fish already caught. What about the guy who goes to his trout hole and keeps every trout he catches and then goes back later and can't catch any? Seems like people would figure out their is a direct correlation between the two. You know most people fishing from land keep everything they catch. Reminds me of the jagoff on the Alafia who wanted to give me $5 for the slot snook I caught. I wanted to tell him to go f!#% himself, but with the stupid stand your ground law, he might have shot me cause he felt threatened.
People that have a freezer full of fish and keep more amaze me. Why not eat the fish you have now and only replenish your "enormous stockpile" when it gets low? Don't fish get freezer burn and spoil after a while? Aren't fresh fish the best to eat? People think that fish are an infinite resource and populations will remain constant. That is incorrect. I have seen the trout population in my areas drop off in both quantity and quality, especially quality. The trout I caught last time out were the best I have caught in a year. Four trout per person per day with one of them over 20" is crazy to me. That is a lot of fish for one person. That is probably why I am catching under slot trout almost all the time. OK enough of that rant.
From what I have seen, too many people don't want to put in the time and effort required to find fish. They are either lazy or ignorant and don't really know how to fish. They want it handed to them. I am all for helping people out with techniques, lures, equipment, understanding tides, etc., but giving out coordinates and specific areas where you fish is not smart. That person goes there, takes another person who tells another person and on and on and on. Before you know it your spot is blown up and you catch no fish cause it has been worked to death. When it comes to taking people to your spot, just know that if you are successful, he will be back with a friend who then brings a friend and the cycle continues. Being sworn to secrecy is a joke. That doesn't happen.
As far as newbies are concerned, you can't get on a forum with long-standing and established members who have put in the time, effort and money to find fish and ask "Hey guys, new here...so where the fish at?" The response should be "In the freaking water where they live." Or come right back at the poster and ask "What efforts have you made to find them? Where have you been? What have you tried?" If no effort has been made, then he should get no response. He hears crickets. I hate to suggest it, but there ought to be some sort of rules that everyone ought to abide by with repercussions if they aren't followed. Keep a snook out of season...you are history. Keep over your limit...bye bye. Keep an over slot fish...adios. Maybe newbies should have to agree to some sort of disclaimer before being allowed to become a member:
1. Don't ask the original poster for specific locations on the forum.
2. Don't give out specific fishing locations in fishing reports
3. Follow all fishing regulations
When it comes to why people have left here, a lot of it was the site transition. People don't like change. I didn't like it at first either, but the format is better and I have grown accustomed to it. Many who posted on here were inundated with requests for specific locations. That gets old. A large part of it is the social media and its' convenience. Take a pic of a good fish, click post to Facebook and done. No writing reports etc., but you still get all the adulation and attaboys you want with much less effort. Instant gratification with the least amount of effort required is the norm now. Also, on some of those sites, political correctness is not too prevalent and people can say exactly what they want without having to worry about mods banishing them from the site. Times change and the way we communicate changes as well.
Man, this site was the shizznit. We had Beef, Soch, Lostman, Jessie, Boggs, Rkonsky, Ssslayer, Cody, ABM and many others that posted good insightful reports that enlightened, inspired and motivated others on this site to go out and enjoy this wonderful sport. We are so lucky to leave near some great inshore fishing.
I wish that people treated this sport and our fishery with more respect. It is not only your fishery, but it is mine and everybody else's. I wish more people practiced catch and release. Think about how phenomenal our fishing would be if more people released the fish they caught. Think about how much that 27" redfish or 33" snook had to go through to get to that size. The obstacles they had to overcome to reach their size are astronomical. It is within your rights to keep that fish of course, but I hope that as you are considering whether or not to keep that fish the next time, you will decide it is too beautiful a creature to wind up as a picture on your dinner plate at the end of your post. Nothing is more satisfying to me than catching a fish like that and watching it swim away alive and well to parts unknown.