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phil030

I'm Seriously Curious

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This is my 1st visit back to TOF in a while. I get the GH emails, and the article on old reels enticed me to click, and just for the hell of it, check out the forum. I haven't been here in quite a while. I guess I just got tired of the same old BS, and people blasting one another. I miss the old forum days, the classes at Tampa Fishing Outfitters, and the trips together. I went on Hubbard's outing several years ago, but I missed the Ft Desoto picnic.

Just to let you guys know, I'm still here, still out there on a regular basis, me and my Gheenoe. Just not on the forums that much.

What would get me to come back? I suppose a more technical forum on tactics, equipment, etc. Spots are not what I'm looking for, I have spots. I'm learning to fly fish, and find it looks so simple, yet not that easy. I do see a fly section, I'll check that out.

Glad to see this thread, it peeks my interest.

Tight lines. Oh yea, my favorite spot...it's Tampa Bay!!!

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Here's the truth of the matter as I see it - and Chris Boggs is fairly close to the crux of it.

 

Initially this site (and in particular the forums) was focused on a relatively small geographic area - Tampa Bay and immediate surrounding areas. Most everyone who was involved and commenting and active on the forums lives in the Tampa Bay area or at least within 50-75 miles.

 

It was a newish option - and a much better/nicer one for those who wanted to "chat" and learn about fishing online than the "other site" that had been pretty popular among FL West coasters - but after its well known owner died, those who took it over treated commentors on their forums like children to be scolded (and worse - belittled) for any # of "offenses" - and they pretty quickly ran off many good fishermen who were only trying to participate and join a localish online "community".

 

In the 2010-2012 time frame, TOF was like a breath of fresh air because it was cool, laid-back, most members on the forums were nice and respectful to each other and lots of good info began to be shared by many who had real world fishing experience and good knowledge to share.

 

The focus of the site (both on the front page and in the forums)was its home base. Tampa Bay area and the surrounding west coast of Florida with an emphasis on what most "locals" are interested in - good info, news and fishing reports about Tampa Bay area saltwater fishing.

 

The site sponsored/initiated numerous educational and TOF "member get together" type events locally every year for awhile - and this merging of real world and online in such a unique way created a true "community" feel among those who had become involved. Members met in person and knew and fished with each other in large #s - so you knew exactly who you were posting a response to - because you had met that person before and/or they were your occasional fishing companion. It wasn't just chatting among fishing enthusiasts online behind a user name and avatar - it was talking with and sharing info, fishing reports, stories, posing questions etc. with multiple people that you actually knew (and liked in most cases).

 

But then things started to change and the site as a whole started to attempt to focus (particularly on the front page) on a "wider audience" and to "spread its influence" to every corner of the state and beyond. This was deemed important to give the appearance of a wider scope of "influence" than that which actually existed. (at least in an organic sense). High end monetization was the goal - and there's nothing wrong with just rewards for creativity and hard work in creating something special and unique - that is unless you kill the golden goose in the attempt which is basically what ultimately happened - (regarding these forums at least).

 

The forums chugged along for awhile maintaining its "local feel" for the most part despite the obvious shift in focus up front to attempt to reach a "wider" audience - but somewhere along the way the magic was lost. That which made this fishing forum "special" was not fostered nor nurtured nor paid much attention to by those who make decisions for TOF - so the forums kind of became an afterthought for the site and with that result - the feeling of "community" which is exactly what made it so great here was quickly lost (and is unlikely to be recovered IMO).

 

I don't believe that very many people stopped participating here because too many "spots" were being openly talked about as has been contended. Some perhaps - but certainly not the majority of so many "lost forum members". I never thought the "talking about spots" thing was all that prevalent nor big of a "problem" from what I could see (which is everything that gets posted). I think rather that many forum members who had been active for some time continued to see the ever increasing change in focus of the site and gradually just kind of lost interest because it didn't feel much like their own personal online fishing community anymore. Less reports by members (which were quite prevalent in TOF forums heyday) led to even less reports which of course led to less interest, less traffic and less members.

 

There were other factors - the obsession with other forms of social media has likely played some roll in fishing forums' demise - But in particular, there was the incredibly painful switch-over to the "new forums format" here on TOF and all the problems that went along with it (some of which still haven't been addressed years later). So whether it was the problems people had getting functions of the forums to work right - or just a generalized revolt among quite a few about being forced to learn a brand new (though largely improved) format to be involved at that time - along with the aforementioned shift in focus of the site as a whole - that time frame (18-24 months ago) was kind of the dagger in the heart of these TOF forums from which it has never recovered.

 

Just my opinion - but I've been pretty damn involved with this site from early on - so I'm sure there's at least some validity to those observations.

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Mike hit the nail on the head.  In particular the following paragraph sums it all up to me:

 

The site sponsored/initiated numerous educational and TOF "member get together" type events locally every year for awhile - and this merging of real world and online in such a unique way created a true "community" feel among those who had become involved. Members met in person and knew and fished with each other in large #s - so you knew exactly who you were posting a response to - because you had met that person before and/or they were your occasional fishing companion. It wasn't just chatting among fishing enthusiasts online behind a user name and avatar - it was talking with and sharing info, fishing reports, stories, posing questions etc. with multiple people that you actually knew (and liked in most cases).

 

That's exactly what I miss the most. :(

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Social media is the new forums. Plain and simple.

 

While this is the nicest forum I have ever been part of I don't spend very much time on it anymore due to the time I spend on social media.

 

My advice would be if you want to keep the little bit of traffic that this forum has don't start bitching because people ask questions or people post locations.

 

If you start going the way of the Cap. Mel forum you will end up with a forum like that. No amount of rebuilding will ever bring that forum back due to the new management and all the rules on how to post.

 

You guys really have a good thing here. It just needs a little work from the members.

 

Why don't you guys try and put a simple meet and greet together at one of the local restaurants like  Hooters, Winghouse or something? That may help generate some activity again.

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I feel another coastal clean-up in the midst. Say the word boys and girls and I'll spearhead it again. The last turn out was amazing and it was great to just be amongst fishing enthusiasts - the energy was just purely amazing. Plus, filling up a whole dumpster worth of garbage was pretty amazing too.

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I agree that social media is making forums outdated. Most people posting here are older and have belong to forums for years. I post on both, but that's because most of the fisherman I know online are from other parts of the country and don't understand how it is locally. For example, if I post a report and picture of a 20" flounder caught here, you guys would appreciate its size, guys from California would say that's a tiny halibut. LOL

 

I believe eventually fishing forums will be as popular as record players and pagers.

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I get what you're saying, Flaswimbaiter. I use social media to interact with fisherman/women and divers in other states. Nothing negative, just bragging rights from people living in the states we've lived in. Hawaii, California and Louisiana. I'm proud to live in the state of Florida but I can't help compare the other three. It's fun!

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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

etc.

 

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.

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True beef. He is good. One of the young fishing studs like yourself that consistently caught big fish. So sad to lose all those good anglers. Hopefully some will come back some time and grace us with their angling insights. I like the free exchange of ideas, theories and the sharing of fishing exploits. I love reading about an angler's day on the water or watching a good videos like yours beef. Many who can't get out live vicariously through these reports. A fishing forum allows for that and has a lot to offer. We need more reports from all the members. We have too many lurkers that don't contribute anything to the site. Too many are just looking for new and better places to fish rather than being part of making TOF better than all other Tampa fishing websites. It could be the site to go to for the best angling reports and fishing advice. The wealth of fishing knowledge of the members here is incredible. We just need more people to get involved and participate/contribute to make the difference between a good site and a great site. We don't want to go the way of Captain Mel.

 

One problem I see is the lack of responsiveness of the site. I sent a PM to the "TOF Team" regarding an article I wanted to publish, but retain rights to, regarding fishing docks with artificials. I might write a book someday. It is 7 pages long and extremely detailed. I sent my PM to them on 12/28/15 and didn't receive a response until 1/12/16. Basically I wanted to make sure that Gary wasn't going to claim that he owns the article since it is published on his site and to contact him about it. They said they would talk to Gary and get back to me. I am still waiting for a response. It is stuff like that that alienates members.

 

You are still here Andy. Aren't you?

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Phil brought me to this site a couple of years ago.  I loved it and still like TOF, but yes, Facebook has changed the world.

 

Sharing exact locations...a ... NO.  But I am one of those who asked about lures.  It was a way to learn.  I didn't feel that was creating an issue.  As a matter of fact, I post a number of photos with the lure still in the fishes mouth.  Really don't see the harm in that.

 

And Fish Brain,  a really fast way to see what people are catching.  You can set the Location to Private, so NO ONE knows were you caught the fish.  You can chat with people all over the world.  I just started to use the app Alex and I enjoy reading the stories and seeing the fish.

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Pam- thank you! Lures are no an issue. It's talking about spots and even kayak launch spots are some of the things that have ruined some areas in the bay. Keep doing what you do Pam! You have become such a great fisher and have truly embraced the sport to the max.

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Thanks for the kind words Dave, those were good times. Great write up and some great points, thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.

 

I believe you guys are referring to the same Cody I follow on FB, he is now serving our country as a marine I believe, and is no linger in Florida. He is a hell of a young fishermen.

 

As for location, I don't crop my pics only to make the fish look bigger. LOL

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Lol I'm in the Air Force, Dave, not a marine. I'm in Colorado and fly fish on my off days I just don't take many pics now. I didn't leave Florida for good either haha, I will be back eventually. Anyways, this site is wack now and the forum is dead, it will never comeback. I'm just glad it's not the Salt Life online fisherman.com.

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Lol I'm in the Air Force, Dave, not a marine. I'm in Colorado and fly fish on my off days I just don't take many pics now. I didn't leave Florida for good either haha, I will be back eventually. Anyways, this site is wack now and the forum is dead, it will never comeback. I'm just glad it's not the Salt Life online fisherman.com.

Sorry Cody, couldn't remember.

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I came here a few years back shortly after moving to Tampa, but have not participated much in the last year for a lot of reasons.  Mostly, I've dealt with a bad back and recovery from surgery. That means that I've hardly fished, so haven't had much to brag about.   ;) Also, I've drifted away due to a lot of the reasons already listed.  Not mentioned specifically yet, but it seems that the site and the forum has been pretty focused on monetizing.  It's understandable that the site is a business, but the ads (whether marked as such, or cleverly written into a great article) are a bit much for me.  It's not just the site though.  Far from it in fact.  It seems that the large majority of the posts are about hawking something, a new lure, a blog site, a new company that someone is working with, or whatever product that someone's buddy or cousin makes.  I don't mind plugging products and services.  In fact, I've found some good information on products the I use when I do fish, but there should be limits, and product plugs shouldn't come in the first post.  Introduce yourself, make some friends, and contribute first. 

 

That said, I still come back for information.  There is a lot of good content, and still a lot of people here that I respect here, even if I haven't met many of them in person.  I think that with some of the constructive comments and recommendations that the site will do well and look forward to watching it develop.

Henri

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