How Social Media is Changing Fishing Pressure

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Is Social Media effecting fishing pressure on our trout water? Photo By: Louis Cahill

Some would argue with me, but I think when you factor in the entire continental United States, trout streams as a whole are getting more crowded. Some of it has to do with population increases and the fact that many of our fisheries and their resources are being mishandled and depleted. But I think, the majority of it has to do with the growing popularity of social media and its ability for real-time communication that’s changing how fishing pressure is being dished out. It’s much easier for anglers today to communicate, quickly comb through the latest fishing reports on the web and then focus their time fly fishing the locations that are producing. Today, when the fishing on a specific trout stream or river begins to drop below average, anglers are much quicker to move on, and search out the next closest trout water that’s fishing more favorable.

The days of it taking a week or two for the fly fishing public to catch on and mobilize are over with for the most part. That’s why, if you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed a correlation between the trout water that’s fishing good, and the amount of cars it has in the parking lot and the boats it has on the water. In simple terms, we’re using the technology of social media as a tool to be more strategic and efficient fly fisherman, but at the same time, it’s back firing on us, because it’s bunching us all together. That’s why it’s more important than ever that fly anglers are fishing smarter on the water. Fly anglers need to be quick to adjust their fly fishing tactics when they’re not catching fish, and they need to be willing to think outside the box in what gear and flies their fishing with, if they want to find consistent success. After all, those wild and stocked trout seem to be getting smarter by the minute, don’t they. They no longer seem to be falling for the same old stuff. Our larger fly patterns work one day and the next, we can’t buy a fish on them. Fly shops are filling the walls with more fluorocarbon tippet in smaller sizes, and the staff are recommending we fish tiny micro-nymphs, dries and emergers. Tell me if I’m wrong, but fishing pressure no longer seems to be distributed evenly across the board on most of our trout water. Instead it seems to be alive, constantly changing to the fishing condtions and being influenced greatly by the word of mouth amongst anglers.

Before anyone starts chiming in on how they don’t have to use extra fine tippet or extremely small flies, and the fishing pressure is the same as it has always been, please understand I’m talking about the trout fisheries that are closest to the larger metropolitan areas. I’m not saying you can’t catch fish on big dry flies and 3X tippet anymore. There are times of the year and places that you can do it year round, I know. My stance on this subject are coming from how I’ve seen the fishing conditions change for me the last five to ten years. I’ve had to adjust my fishing tactics significantly on what gear and flies I use to maintain my success on many of the popular trout waters I’m fishing today. If I was fishing the same way I did ten years ago, there’s a lot of places I wouldn’t be catching very many fish.

What can you do to help you find success on today’s heavily pressured trout waters?

Ronnie Hall from the The Fish Hawk fly shop in Atlanta, GA provides us a simple and quick tie that is sure to bring you trout to net when you find yourself fly fishing on crowded trout water.

Don’t be afraid to go small with your fly patterns. Ronnie regularly fishes fly patterns size 22-26 and smaller. He fishes fine flourocarbon tippet and uses a small strike indicator that can detect the softest takes from trout, and it also allows him to present his rig softly on the water to minimize alerting and spooking trout. Ronnie Hall loves using the New Zealand Strike Indicator system for this kind of fly fishing. He really likes this system because it allows him to fish subsurface flies extremely effective on trout water that is 1 1/2′-4 1/2′ deep that is usually cumbersome with traditional nymph rigs. His niche strike indicator system provides him the ability to quickly vary the depth of his drifting flies, and that ensures they remain in the correct water column where the trout are holding and feeding. Ronnie doesn’t just use the strike indicator system for nymphs. The system works great when he wants to fish a tiny dry fly with an emerger off the back. In this situation, those flies are extremely hard to see on the water, and he uses the tiny puff of wool as an indicator to keep him keyed in on where his tiny flies are drifting. I had the opportunity recently to fish with Ronnie for a few hours and I got to see first hand how effective this rig can be on heavily pressured trout water that has low flows, is flat and crystal clear.

New Zealand Strike Indicator System Instructions

For more information about the New Zealand Strike Indicator System and what it looks like, please visit

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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14 thoughts on “How Social Media is Changing Fishing Pressure

  1. Pingback: Social media is destroying fishing » Big Kype

  2. I’ve thought about the same thing, Kent. However, while some may be writing reports (assuming that’s what you meant), others are writing in different ways (Erin Block and Sean Sanders for example – Even you two guys. Maybe I don’t notice increased pressure here in Denver, because we’ve always had the pressure. I don’t mind though – more people fishing. I can still get to places where I see no one all day.

    Cheers on a great site!

  3. Years ago a recent fishing report was two weeks old and based upon third hand information. In today’s world of social media; yesterday’s website posting by the local flyshop is old news. I wonder if the fish understand that if one of their buddies falls for a purple haze; then a purple haze hatch will be forthcoming by every friend on Facebook! Enjoy the blog

  4. If we as individuals don’t like “hot-spotting” in social media we should
    1-Not engage in it ourselves
    2-Don’t go to spots others are hot-spotting and
    3-Put pressure on others to stop hot-spotting, like we did with catch-and-release ideals.

  5. One answer is to never mention a location by name. This practice seems to vary wildly in the SE at least.

    I’ve only been fly fishing for a few years, and for the first couple I used public forums and books to find out where to go.

    But the last season I mostly visited streams no one ever talks about, caught some great fish, and saw almost no one. They still exist, even in the Southeast.

    • RobG4,

      I agree some of the not so popular streams get way less traffic than the ones all over the internet but its still boils down to luck where I live most of the time I still see fresh angler sign no matter how far I walk. Then again Atlanta is right next to me with 5+ million prople.

      Glad you have been finding success and yes, it does help to not mention names all the time, particularly for smaller streams that can’t handle as much pressure. Thanks for the comment.


  6. Fact is that fly fishing is not growing by leaps and bounds as there are almost as many people giving it up each year as there are new people. The web just concentrates people in particular areas. If people take the time to go out and do some exploring on rivers or stretches of rivers that are not as polular they can get away from massive drift boat htaches and crowded banks. These crowds swarm from place to place based on reports but ignore the less-famous spots which leaves those of us who like solitude in peace. Break out of your mold and walk a mile away from a parking area. You’ll have peace and stay in shape easier. PLus the fish won’t be as pressured and spooked so they’re easier to catch and you’ll find more of them feeding.

    Or fish for carp and smallmouths instead.

    • Tom,

      Thanks for taking the time to drop us your opinion on yhis subject. Glad to see you agree the internet is bunching people together.

      I agree with you completely to explore off the beatin path locations, that it will help you keep your beer gut smaller or to target other species. All are solid tips and advice for us to find more solitude and happier fish.

      And for those of you who haven’t already taken the time to visit Tom Rosenbauer’s Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center, check it out.

      • Interesting article. My buddy, who hates social media sent it to me. I took of a screenshot of TR’s comment and added this.

        That’s the comment I most agree with from the article you sent me. I know you hate social media and I agree that it has its negatives ( Politics being chief among them) but it also brings awareness to a whole host of conservation issues that would otherwise be ignored, the Pebble Mine for instance. Rivers need friends so I guess SM helps in that aspect. Now jerk offs that post pictures of fish ripped off of redds is worthy of condemnation.

  7. I really don’t get the whole compulsion to “share” and communicate instantly about anything. And complaining about the effect of social media while participating in it is just a little bit ironic.

    I’ve always felt fishing was best when alone or maybe with one other person. I’d rather fish less productive water than be within sight of another fisherman.

  8. When I moved near the Esopus creek in Ulster County N.Y in 1985 it was one of the premier trout streams in the North East. Our problem is that this trout stream has been hijacked by the water tubing industry. Every year or so they go through and cut up any fallen trees that end up in the water so there is no chance of a tuber getting entangled and drowning; and the shear volume of tubers has altered the rock formations forming riffles, so between the two there is almost no structure left to hold nice size trout. There are a few large deep pools off the beaten path that took a bit of a hike to get to that were favorites of mine to fish, but the tubers like to either jump off the large rocks into the pools or take a break from tubing and get all wild and crazy swimming in them.
    It is disheartening to see a wonderful stream that held large rainbows and browns being destroyed because there is more money in tubing tourism than in fly fishing tourism.

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