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John Bailey: Fishing via Facebook tells only half of this new story

PUBLISHED: 13:05 20 February 2018 | UPDATED: 13:05 20 February 2018

Fishing is still about stealth, quietness, observation and sinking into the rhythm of the river. Picture: John Bailey

Fishing is still about stealth, quietness, observation and sinking into the rhythm of the river. Picture: John Bailey

Archant

Well, let the truth be out. I’ve been carried kicking and screaming into the 21st century, into the modern age of communication.

Thanks to a dear friend, I’m now close to completing my brand, shiny new social media platform which involves me in all manner of extraordinary enterprises such as Facebook, Twitter even and YouTube. Initially, I was baffled, now I’m only slightly puzzled and, I’ll admit it, to some degree, a tad excited. I’m not exactly tingling with anticipation, but I am forced to accept that social media does open up new avenues of communication that for years I had resolutely turned my back upon.

Already, even though my entry into this brave new world is only so recent, I’m beginning to appreciate the benefits. I’ve already made thousands of new friends, most of whom I have never even met. How comforting to be so popular. Even though my little ‘empire’ is only a few days old, I’ve picked up three or four guiding days from it, so there is a sort of financial gain as well. More importantly, I’m sure I will love the days out with these angling gents, so that is a huge and unexpected bonus.

Yes, I’m forced to admit that modern social media is good for so many things in angling and I’ve come to recognise that. Being able to share your triumphs almost instantly enhances that moment of supreme pleasure. It’s extraordinary that you can catch a good fish one second and the world knows about it the next minute. I also have a growing sense of community, of being a part of a likeminded circle of anglers that I never even knew existed. My WhatsApp gives me instant access to these new friends and also entry into angling niches that I was totally unaware of previously. I’m finding that I am privy to a treasure trove of information on tactics, rigs, baits and even new venues. It’s like whatever I want to know about anything in the sport, I only need ask.

So much of my time is spent on conservation issues and I am now finding that social media can speed up all my campaigns massively and almost instantly. Whatever I might have to say about cormorants, or otters, or the decline of roach, my words are spread to thousands no sooner than they are uttered. There is no doubt that social media has enabled the angling community to build up a far better grasp of what is important now and in the future. It’s a really strong force for mobilising opinion.

I’ve already mentioned the financial benefits to myself but, of course, social media has massively increased the ability of manufacturers to promote their products. It’s not a one-way street. Social media outlets now enable people to buy gear far more effectively. There is so much advice out there, so instantly on tap, an angler knows exactly what he or she might really need.

New ideas in angling can be spread so quickly now because of social media and I have benefited from that, too. I’ve already cottoned on to the use of circle rigs for pike dead baiting, for example, and the Ronnie Rig for big, suspicious carp. In the same vein, slightly left of centre angling disciplines have now received their full share of the spotlight because of social media. Lure fishing is a great example. For years, it’s been rather on the periphery of fishing but now, because of social media, it’s right there in the beating heart of it.

Perhaps best of all, fishing and social media go together when it comes to promoting the sport to kids. Social media is the vehicle of choice for anybody now over the age of six it seems. Social media is cool and many of the angling stars there are lads in their teens and early 20s. This is especially so when it comes to YouTube where so many of the angling stars are barely out of short pants. I’m not being patronising here in any way at all. Anything that gets kids out there, doing it, is fine by me.

So what’s not to like? First up, I’m becoming more wary of much of the so-called information that I’m reading on social media. A lot of it, I’m pretty sure from my own experience, is not altogether simply right! The point is, that in the past, when a book or an article were written, you knew that the author was tried and trusted and what he had to say was very generally built upon decades, probably, of experience. Not everything that you read in the old fishing books you could take as gospel but a lot more of it was more right than what we see on our screens today.

But most of all, I just wonder if social media dents that magic and the mystery of this extraordinary sport of ours? To some degree, angling is all about our own explorations and discoveries. This is what makes it perpetually exciting for me. And then, of course, there is the simple delight of getting out into nature, being as one with the aquatic environment. This is a very real satisfaction for very many of us and it can easily be disturbed by the constant pinging of a smartphone. There are times when you need to breathe, and breathe deeply to smell the roses along your angling pathway.

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