Technology in fishing has grown by leaps and bounds over the last half-century or so. Anglers now can take to the water in bass boats equipped with mapping-grade sonar fish finders, trolling motors and gear that, to our grandfathers, would be likely be described as “newfangled.” Even fly fishing has changed drastically—we now use graphite rods, flies tied with all sorts of synthetic materials and nylon lines that float higher than a rubber ducky in a bathtub. Fly reels are equipped with machined drag that can help tame the biggest of saltwater runners and fluorocarbon leaders and tippets can seem almost completely unbreakable.
But some anglers are ditching the traditional fishing gear altogether, as the father did in the above video, where he caught a smallmouth bass on a worm … from an airborne drone.
A friend of mine shared this video with me and echoed my own reaction. I’m sure, I told him, shared with the fly angling community, this method of take will earn some scorn, and perhaps rightly so (I’m not even sure it’s legal to fish via drone, frankly). After all, it’s a pretty steep technological leap from a fly rod or a spinning rod to a drone, even with all the improved gadgetry anglers use these days. The drone allows for unreachable water to become immediately accessible. It allows for largely quiet and delicate presentations. Camera-equipped drones give anglers a bird’s eye view of the underwater topography. It certainly tilts the odds in favor of the angler.
But, as my buddy said, “I bet they’ll get pretty worked up by this, but some still don’t care about the threats to public lands or clean water or the impacts climate change is having on fish and fishing all over the world.”
It’s a good point. Fishing from a drone is not exactly the most sporting way to fish, and perhaps its legality ought to be examined, if it hasn’t been already. But equally existential threats exist, and while some anglers are righteously fighting to keep our fisheries intact, others are probably more angry about the scene that was carried out in the video above.
It’s about our priorities as anglers, and where they lie. For me, fishing from a drone defeats the purpose and, while it might produce some cool footage, it will likely never pose the kind of threat to our fisheries that exist already in the form of attacks on the Clean Water Rule, the effort to privatize public lands or the indignant refusal of many to accept that a changing climate could drastically alter fishing as we know it.
The real challenges ahead for fishing, my angling friends, aren’t going to come from drones.
— Chris Hunt