Fishing Off the Grid

I f technology and our fascination with it continue racing each other into the future, young fishermen may wind up someday spending more time pressing buttons than making casts. Apps are great, but don’t discount the value of hands-on experience.

Whether you want to know what’s biting, where it’s biting, when it’s biting or what it’s biting, there’s an app for that. Real-time weather and solunar tables are available and even fish identification if you’ve never before seen what’s hanging off your hook.


Apps are beneficial. I’ll concede that much, so long as the sentence ends in an asterisk that leads to an “in moderation” modifier at the bottom of the page. Like anything else we find so useful and indispensable these days. However, using them in excess can lead to dependency and a potential inability to function confidently without something.

Are we addicted to apps? Probably not, at least not by medical definition. Still, I see more and more fishermen on the docks at first light frantically tapping at their phones in search of answers to questions when they already should know the answers.

All that typing and texting and staring at screens, all that unnecessary anxiety waiting for the data to transfer—why not crank the engine, get onto the water and actually fish?

Old-school anglers are dropping out—dying, if you didn’t get the metaphor—at the same rate as everyone else. Fewer fishermen ever create hand-written journals of secret spots. (Remember having “secret spots?”)

Those captains’ logs were replaced, at least a decade ago—justifiably—by spread sheets and pinpoint electronic maps that can be stored to servers in the sky. And they never can be lost, not permanently.

Millennials beware, however, that in the moment, anything you see on an electronic screen can be lost temporarily. Ask a friend who’s dropped his or her phone in the bay. 

Losing your phone doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish that day. It just means you have to rely on your own senses, your own decisions. And if you’ve paid any attention at all to where and how you’ve fished the past few years, you should be able to make a go of it even without those electronic training wheels.

Back to that part about being fair to apps

A few button pushes while connected to your personal fishing-research data base (your phone) can take you to and through a vast catalog not only of your own experiences, but those of friends, professionals and any other sources you trust to be accurate. 

You type “trout,” for example, then click. The next page lets you add a few layers. You continue with “southeast wind, afternoon, incoming tide, June” …and in an instant, you know what lures worked best over a similarly defined chunk of the past.

A couple preferred lure choices pop onto the screen, so you tie one of them to your line. If the fish got the same memo, you should do quite well. Overwhelmingly, however, odds favor a less than favorable outcome if your prediction is based solely on the past.

I like the concepts of data collection and analytics and use both in my daily personal and professional lives. There is short- and long-term value also, however, in simply remembering what happened yesterday or the week prior. Or a year ago on the same spot under similar conditions.

Use the apps as suggestions, but don’t spend the entire day thinking that app knows better than you—if you really put your mind to it—what’s going to work on that particular hour of that specific day.

Some of you younger fishermen are allowing electronic devices—all of which are wholly reliant on fickle, sensitive power sources—to replace your own brains (which are far more reliable and can store an amazing amount of information).

Inside and outside of fishing circles, I routinely run into young people who don’t wear watches or carry pens and paper. Few of them even know anyone younger than their parents who carry pens, even in their vehicles. They rely on electronic devices for notetaking, for appointment setting, navigation, communication and general problem solving.

Surely as there’s an app for every life-simplifying function we want performed, there’s a video for every repair or replacement we might want to perform.

Need to replace the console wiring on your 1986 Boston Whaler? A guy from New Jersey has a 20-minute YouTube video on exactly that, and so do one guy in Texas, two in Florida and another one in South Carolina. Need to make a water pump but all you’ve got is a soda can, two pipe cleaners, a roll of duct tape and six AA batteries? The guy from New Jersey didn’t do a YouTube video on that, but his cousin did.

Electronics and computers will play increasingly vital roles in all aspects of our lives, but we’re not quite far enough down this path to dismiss the usefulness of our own brains.

I’ve challenged you previously in this space and will do so again—now.

Coordinate a fishing trip, wherever and with whomever you like, without help from any electronic device. You may check Internet forecasts during the day, for safety’s sake, and you can bring your phone for the same reason. Otherwise, rely solely on your brain.

My bet is that you’ll catch more fish, not fewer. If you get a good one, turn on your phone and send us a picture.

Email Doug Pike at




Email Doug Pike at ContactUs@fishgame.com

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