Last updated on December 24th, 2021
Fishing was once an all-American pastime that allowed you to connect with nature, make a bond with the outdoors, and potentially put food on the table. In many ways, fishing still is that to this day, but technological advances may have put a damper on the fun-loving nature of fishing.
As an angler in the 21st century, it is hard to ignore the best new reel and sonar systems. What is the line between actually fishing and just straight-up catching? We will lay out some of these changes and how it translates to you going out and fishing.
Technological Advances in Fishing
One of the biggest advances in recent years is sonar and fish detection systems. Fishing boats are expensive enough without the add-ons, but anglers spend thousands on the latest technology that finds the fish for them.
Granted, this by no means guarantees a catch, but it certainly takes care of a huge part of the process for you. What happened to reading shorelines, studying a certain body of water through trial and error, and figuring out where the fish are the old-fashioned way?
For me, a big part of the fishing experience is trying to figure out what works and what areas of a body of water are prone to fish. Banking on technology to do that work for you takes away from the experience.
Maybe we need to give some thought to whether the prevalent use of these sonar systems, fish finders and the like are taking away from the fun of the pursuit.
Along the same lines, ice fishing fish finders take this to an entirely new level, and we are seeing this type of sonar work its way into other fields of angling.
This specifically uses cameras so you can physically see what is below you. This first emerged with ice fishing because you can drill your hole, drop down the camera, and see what is down below. At what point is fishing just a video game? You can watch the fish chase and take your bait right on a mini TV.
How much longer until every boat is outfitted with 360-degree cameras that are always surveying the lake bottom? It’s hard to say because it is a very slippery slope.
Another area of technology in fishing is the rod and reel setups that have changed drastically over the years. I am guilty of spending way too much on a reel in hopes that it increases my chances of a hookup. This is part of the technological revolution in the fishing industry that I am fairly on board with.
Having new equipment that makes the experience more enjoyable is generally a good thing. In my mind, the line is crossed when the pursuit of a fish is too dependent on technology. So, buying nice reels and that type of equipment doesn’t cross that line for me.
The Tournament Fishing Exception
We must distinguish between casual fishing and tournament fishing. When money is on the line and fishing has turned into a pure sport, it is easier to make the case for technology being used.
When you turn on the next MLF tournament on ESPN, pay attention to the equipment setups and boats these professionals have. They are full of Hummingbirds, piles of rods and reels, 250 horsepower motors, and more. I don’t see a problem with this when the main goal is to beat the guy next to you and bring home a payday.
This distinction is important to make because tournament fishing is a career for some and elevates the sport beyond a casual affair.
What Is Casual Fishing?
A majority of fishing that is done can probably be classified as “casual.” This does not include tournament fishing or fishing for food. My version of casual fishing focuses on the intrapersonal sport of Man vs. Self and Man vs. Nature.
When I go out, I almost always practice catch and release and am out there for the love of the game. To be clear, I have zero problems with tournament fishing and keeping your catch when it is done legally and ethically, but it is important to distinguish these options from casual fishing.
At its core, fishing is a very pure and basic activity. Yes, technology has allowed us to streamline a lot of aspects, but the idea is still the same. I am in the outdoors to make a connection between me and the fish. The entire process leading up to it all adds to your experience.
Is Technology Ruining Recreational Fishing?
I am not one to dismiss technology and I am far from a pure traditionalist, but we need to remember why we are fishing. Constantly reminding myself why I am out there trying to catch fish keeps me grounded in a way that is far more fulfilling than the alternative.
I have my fair share of high-end bait casters that help optimize my results, but it is really in my mindset of why am I fishing? Is catching as many fish as possible more important to me than the act itself? This is where technology can lead people.
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