Outdoors: Take a byte and go fishing with social media - The Buffalo News

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Outdoors: Take a byte and go fishing with social media

Social media is changing the world, affecting everything from how businesses are being marketed to how we spend our spare time. A recent study showed that people today are now involved with electronic cyberspace for more than 10 hours a day – smart phones, tablets and television. Learning to manage all of these electronic tools is helping people to multitask in a manner this world has never seen.

At the top of the list are social media buzz words like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr … to name but a few options that are available. And with all of this, there is no lag time – it’s immediate. Even things like email seem to be dropping off in popularity, being replaced by texts from smart phones. It’s quicker and people can have instant conversations. What ever happened to just picking up a phone and calling someone?

Capt. Tom Marks of Gr8 Lakes Fishing Adventures of Derby is one of the hip members of a legion of social media mavens that are taking advantage of these unique tools to communicate to fellow anglers … and to reel in new customers.

“I use it all the time,” Marks says. “It’s a great way to advertise my charter business and show off pictures of big fish. Also it is a great way to keep track of how other charters are doing, seeing it on their picture posts. I follow up with other captains by Facebook Messenger to share fishing details and locations. Not only do I follow other charter captains, there are serious recreational anglers, Facebook Groups and clubs posting pictures and information useful for fishing.”

Facebook isn’t the only tool he uses. “I also use Twitter and Instagram to build my network of contacts,” Marks says. “Every angler can benefit by networking with others through social media, sharing ideas and techniques. If you are willing to share you will be surprised how willing others will also share. It takes a little effort to build a ‘friend’ network but it is well worth it.”

“Getting people to engage in the social media process is best with pictures and videos,” says Libby Woock, e-marketing manager for Destination Niagara USA. “I am constantly sharing photos, liking videos and keeping the process going to engage others. That’s what it’s all about. This works very well with fishing because of photos and videos that are available of people catching fish as a focal point of the activity. There is a tremendous amount of action going on. The sky … and the water … is the limit!”

Woock will also link some social media together like Facebook and Twitter to make things easier and simpler. “Only do what you can manage and handle,” she cautions. “It can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you are first starting out. Take it slow and become familiar with whatever social media you are attempting to use. Check other Facebook pages out involved with fishing and if you see that one particular ‘friend’ posts videos regularly, you can subscribe to a page for notification whenever there’s a live video feed. The more you become familiar with something and the more you use it, the easier it will be to negotiate and expand on. And once it becomes second nature, you can start exploring new horizons.”

Capt. Matt Yablonsky.

Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters in Youngstown is also high on message boards for cyberspace meeting places like Lake Ontario United. “I think these message boards are great,” says Yablonsky. “It gives people with the same passion a place to brag, learn, and teach.”

With almost 20,000 members and nearly a half million posts, LakeOntarioUnited.com (LOU) is one of the largest fishing communities in upstate New York. With its roots dating to 2003, it has averaged 120 new members per month for the last 14 years.

“Today, in the face of ever-growing competition from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, LOU is seeing its highest traffic in history,” says Chad Lapa, the person behind the LOU curtain. “Why is that? The answer is broad in nature but at its core it comes down to a well-moderated, family-friendly environment that fosters an old-school feeling with new-age technology.”

Lake Ontario United, and now its sister site of LakeErieUnited.com (LEU), reaches deeper into the communities because they are managed by members who are part of the local community and fish the local waters. They do their best to support the small guys like local bait and tackle shops, clubs and organizations like Southtowns Walleye Association and Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association, youth events and tournaments around the lake.

“There is no cost to advertise your club, tournament, or event on either LOU or LEU and you will reach the entire audience of members unlike a social media site,” says Lapa. “We are not political in nature, nor do we try to get you to sign up for anything by flooding your feed with irrelevant content; our focus is on fishing at the state and local level on both sides of the border. We strive to help others catch more fish and preserve of our resources to pass along to future generations.”

“The biggest benefit to being a member of these alternative social media sites is twofold: the ability to find the information you need to cut your learning curve down considerably and to be part of a community that will treat you fairly and respectfully while supporting your cause whether you are a charter captain, club/association, or running a local contest,” Lapa says.

So where do we go from here?

“Five or 10 years down the road I think the industry moves towards custom application development that caters more to specific niche markets and operates on real time, dynamic information driven by big data and deeper computer learning technology,” Lapa says.  “Let’s take a look at the classic, timeless fishing hot spot map. These have been around for ages and are still popular today. A digitized version is nothing new either. But how about a version that takes into account different seasons, is filterable by species, and pulls in weather data, moon phases and HD Navionics topo lines to determine the best times and spots to fish for the species you are most interested in at the times you are interested in fishing for them? Well the good news is that you may not have to wait five or 10 years for something like that. In fact, that technology is here now.”

Take a byte and grab hold!

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