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This time of year, when I plan out some distant winter fishing trips to places warmer and farther south, I become a lurker.
Not the creepy, “Psst! Hey buddy!” kind of lurker. But the cyber version of the guy eavesdropping on a good conversation at the fly shop kind of lurker. I hit the message boards for intel. Rarely do I engage, as these “communities” aren’t always the most welcoming, but I soak in the needed information and pocket the gems. It’s made many a do-it-yourself fishing trip a success.
Message boards are usually regionally based online communities, and fly fishers are famous for hosting great discussions on message boards about locations, flies, tactics and what’s hitting at any given time of the year. You can find most regional message boards by typing what you want to find out into Google search, like, “Fly fishing Choctawhatchee Bay.”
Bam. You’re there. The posts are public, usually. In order to converse, you might need to register, which is almost always free. And, like I said, some message boards are more welcoming than others. When you come upon a hot location, type it’s name into Google maps and you’ll have the lay of the land (or the water) at your fingertips.
One important tip. Don’t let this be your only source of intel when traveling to a new place. A couple years back, when I was, indeed, trying to decode the flats of Choctawhatchee Bay at Destin, Fla., the message board helped. But the best advice I got was from a Realtor I met in a bar, who told me about a public park along the bay with knee-deep flats stretched out to the horizon.
If you can combine Google maps and message boards with the ability to be a little bit social, you’ll learn water faster and have more success.
— Chris Hunt