Toby Kvalevog


Three men wearing sunglasses and hats pose for a selfie outdoors against a blue sky. Two of the men have their thumbs up and are smiling. They appear to be enjoying a sunny day on a guided fishing trip, dressed perfectly for outdoor activities.

Technology, social media, and conservation have changed the landscape of fishing. Some would argue, the good ol days of “fishing” are gone. With technology and fish counts on the side of anglers, one could argue that the good ol’ days of “catching” are now.

Giant fish pictures with legendary fish guides and charter captains who were talented outdoorsmen capture our imagination and tell some of the best stories. Their daily triangulations and compass readings to find locations were truly a skill that could only be learned by time on the water and not purchased. Fishing journals would be held close to an angler’s heart and shared with very few. Homemade lures and trapping your own bait surely added to an element of reward at the end of the day. Fishing on pristine lakes, with little to no development or traffic, would be that ultimate experience. Secret spots and Lake X were the only locations shared. For many, this is perceived as the good ol’ days of fishing.

That all began to change when the first fishing reports and fish catches first started to make their way to newspapers. Virgil Ward was one of the first TV fishing shows dating back to the 60’s. The Nashville Network (TNN) hosted shows like In-Fisherman, Bill Dance and Hank Parker Outdoors on Sunday nights beginning in the early 90’s. Along these lines of angler education, a trip to the mailbox once a month to pick up a current In-Fisherman or BASS Magazine where articles highlighting idols like Al and Ron Lindner and their cutting edge or tournament winning advice and strategy would quickly be learned from many of the top pro’s and guides around the world.

Fast forward 20 years and the landscape has changed both on and off the water. As a guide and tournament angler, I have been involved just long enough to remember the transition into the world of social media, gps, lake chips, and state of the art fish finding technologies. There is no doubt that getting to the fish, finding fish, and staying on the fish is easier today.

A quick glance onto your favorite social media outlet will surely provide evidence of an awesome catch or experience that will make you pause and take note. There are thousands of anglers who utilize social media as a promotional avenue and they depend on their subscribers. An online search for a destination that matches that catch will undoubtedly provide a video, report, or message board that provides the general info as to how and when to catch the fish that you are after. Youtube has become an educational tool that can be used as a virtual online classroom.

Lake maps, chips and smartphone applications have changed the sport. The Navionics App. for smart phones is one of the biggest advances in lake/ fish information. Accurate depth contours, DNR stocking and fish catch information, water clarity are all at the tip of a finger. This can also double as a handheld gps /lake map when you have good service. A trip to the boat in the garage with map chips and GPS / fishfinders technology allow for plotting a hit list for the trip long before the ship ever sails

The hands on element of fishing has become just as advanced in many ways. Fishing rods are now built with specific actions for techniques and with material that allows for lighter weight and better feel. Line advances and artificial lures have become so effective that for many, they have become the preferred method of fishing. The “bite” itself has become more of an addiction than the catch for many because of this advancement in feel.

Getting to the spot and staying longer has never been so easy or safer than today. There are many boat and motor manufacturers that produce models specific to all types of fishing. They are getting bigger, faster, safer and more efficient with every model. These advancements allow anglers to fish lakes of all shapes and size under most conditions. Some of the best days fishing today wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago for safety reasons.

Fishing has become very technical and commercialized in comparison to 20 years ago. Few can argue that there are a lot of really good fisherman out there today. With social media and online television, there is a lot more information available to become a better angler. The professional fishing tournaments, like other pro sports, are spotlighting up and coming anglers who are very successful in their first few years on tour. This is proof that perhaps the modern angler is in fact a better angler. The names that have withstood the test of time like Kevin Van Dam, Gary Parsons, and Al Lindner have all adapted to embrace the changes made adaptations and are well schooled with the advancements of the fishing industry.

Catch and release has arguably has been one of the biggest changes to fishing. Gone are the vast photos of an angler with little expression holding a giant dead musky or walleye. Replacing them are happy photos with anglers holding a live fish that is tagged as released for another angler to enjoy. The dried up faded fish that hangs in a rustic bar are being replaced with beautiful fiberglass replicas that look better than the original ever did. Conservation and Sport fishing has undoubtedly become more of a common practice for many species. Slot limits have helped fish survival on certain lakes when managed properly and a person can argue fish catches on lakes such as Leech Lake and Red Lake in Minnesota have never been better. It’s possible that this will likely become more common practice with better understanding of year classes and slot limits by our local fishery departments.

The good ol’ day of fishing are really in the experience and ideals of an individual. There is little doubt with the advancements in the fishing and boating industry, social media and online educational resources that we now have the potential to find a lake and experience a once in a lifetime fishing opportunity on a more regular basis.

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