Hot-spotting in the era of social media

yikes

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This rant isn't so much about hot spotting a specific fishing area, but rather about publicizing a "hidden gem" on social media when that area can't handle the attention.
The story involves an area in New Jersey that was a local favorite, that was completely overrun due to a viral TikTok video.
The area is managed by a small municipality, and they were never set up with the infrastructure to be a tourist destination.

https://www.nj.com/news/2020/07/tik...s-fume-over-trash-alcohol-and-loud-music.html

Here in LA, we have similar issues, except that we have national forest and wilderness areas immediately adjacent to our metropolitan area. Those areas are managed at the federal level by the Forest Service, which is really geared institutionally towards accommodating a few campers and hikers. In contrast, our wilderness functions more like New York's Central Park, and people act like it's a giant tailgate party. We have a 1/4 mile stretch on one portion of the river that gets over 1000 daily visitors in the summer - - and it looks like a giant tailgate party. There are BBQs and sofas set up right in the water!



Imagine a public swimming pool with a thousand visitors: how many lifeguards and staff would you have? How many trashcans and restrooms? How often would you test water quality for fecal bacterial count? (One fork of this river was tested every day in July a couple of summers ago, and it exceeded pubic health standards for every day.)
Yet there is zero oversight here.

So, in absence of significant recreational management appropriate to the crowd size, the only thing that protects the forest and wilderness is obscurity and lack of easy access.
 
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tsmervis

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On social media I refer to all fishing spots as "Pucker Brush Creek" I know their are no real secrets but I certainly dont want to contribute to over use of an area. With Steelhead around here post a photo today & tomorrow the area is over run with anglers. Keep your mouth shut is my motto
 

Bent Undergrowth

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I recently submitted a post about the rising popularity of fly fishing, and attempted to remain unbiased in pointing out the pros and cons of an influx of fly anglers. The sentiment in response to that post was overwhelmingly negative towards newcomers - and it's hard to fault anyone for feeling that way. People pointed out behaviors similar to those shared here. I, too, am seeing more and more waste and disregard for beautiful places. I recently had my vehicle vandalized at a fishing spot, something that has never happened to me before. As much as I hate to succumb to the negativity, I feel I am slowly losing the battle.

Unfortunately, I think the issue is that we live in an era of ignorance. The societal destruction created by social media extends far beyond hotspotting of fishing or outdoor recreational locations. There is a disconnect from reality and responsibility for one's actions that is manifested in the form of school shootings, harassment (often from the perspective of complete anonymity), and the list goes on.

What can we really do to abate this nonsense?

If I'm being honest, I think discerning people are outgunned. We can advocate and educate to our last breath, but we are up against a disease far worse than any virus.

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jwbowen

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I believe a public annual fee and an annual pass reqmt would alleviate some of
the crowding issues. Very sad and I abhor one more reqmt but its almost required
to help keep areas cleaner and safer. We have such a policy in GA for our
WMA's and I believe its successful. We do not obviously have the population
density though....
 

flytie09

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I hold to this theory

803CB4C1-B0FA-412C-9640-7D29EBBAFFF0.gif

I don’t feel it’s a good idea for folks to hype particular resources and share all over Yotube, Instagram or Facebook how great it is. It is careless in my opinion. I believe in discretion when sharing details on fishing forums. I’ll use PMs to share one on one to keep the information as confidential as possible.

There are some forums that simply don’t share this view and recognize sharing any and everything with detailed stream reports. I don’t agree with this.

A map and hatch chart and some basic skills should be all you need. These spots, holes or streams aren’t my personal property...... they’re for all to enjoy, but I’ve put a heck of a lot of time and research finding out what I do know.

I would expect an angler to put forth some effort in their preparation. Perhaps that’s old school...... But I can say I’ve shared a lot of flies and tips to fellow anglers I encounter to pass forward. Sharing ones knowledge is important for the evolution of the sport.

Get out there, enjoy nature and respect those that have come before you and will do so after you’ve left.

As far as the pic posted by the OP.....I'm at a loss for words to describe it. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come.
 
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trout trekker

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Here's the thing about your photo, the story and my own regional observations.

You can have throngs of people come to an area without completely trashing a place. Think Yellowstone, Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon. The primary differences, they are national parks, there are stricter rules, there is visitor peer pressure to protect them, they have entrance fees & strict enforcement.

I feel the leadership within the U. S. Forest Service is and has been to weak and easily intimidated to protect the resources it been charged with for over a decade. They've taken the stand that protection of the resource is solely mitigating wildfires. It's not until locals ( who often have a vested interest in letting the hordes do what they will, so long as they spend a buck. ) and angered visitors take the time to write a letter, email or text the areas representatives and pitch a B about the state of the lands that anything happens. Then, if we're lucky, the Forest Service will come out and hang a few warnings signs threatening to close areas, if the problems aren't curtailed. In the meantime, the B.S. just keeps happening, the areas get trashed. Another summer season comes to a close, in a month or so everyone turns their back on the problems and the following year the rampage starts all over again. Nothing improves, no corrective actions are taken, no one wants to drive off the business, no forest service employees are willing to stick their necks out. Can you blame them, no ones got their backs.

We need a little less Bambi-esque education in our schools and a little more:

Ecology Flag.png
 

yikes

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"You can have throngs of people come to an area without completely trashing a place. Think Yellowstone, Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon. The primary differences, they are national parks, there are stricter rules, there is visitor peer pressure to protect them, they have entrance fees & strict enforcement. "

I agree, but I would add that all of those places are vacation destinations, and the cites around them are geared towards tourism. I think the image I posted above shows how this river functions more like a city park than a national park. It is as both a summer escape from the heat of our valleys, and a casual introduction to the joys of nature. More importantly (from a societal standpoint), our LA mountains and beaches and bike trails are the few egalitarian spaces where people of all socioeconomic backgrounds mingle. That typically happens more often in cities like New York, where Central Park, subway transit, etc. has all strata of society in the same space. Not so much in LA, where we tend to go from home to car to work and can "silo" ourselves from people different than us.

To your point about throngs without trashing: it could be done successfully on these mountains and rivers too, but it requires integrated management and significant investment in staff and infrastructure. There are areas on this river that have county (flood control), state (highway access) and federal (forest/monument/wilderness) jurisdiction all within 100 feet of each other.
 

rfb700

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Welcome to the future. As more and more people compete for fewer and fewer natural resources this is the result.

Publicizing anything online in this day and age is a mistake. Even well known spots dont need any more exposure. I used to try and be helpful but not any more. Ill give you advice in techniques but thats it. I wont even recommend an area.

We are hitting critical mass for many places. Ive quit a few online groups because what im seeing literally breaks my heart. Everyone wants to prove how much knowledge rhey have and blab about spots.

I used to think I was born early enough to escape the worst of it before I croaked. I now think Im a decade or two too late.

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ed from bama

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Good evening to all-

This topic is something that I spend a bit of time contemplating fairly often- just how much information should be presented in any kind of mass media.

First, I'm an outdoor writer. I get paid by various magazines to tell others about fishing and outdoor activities so that the readers can learn about these things and perhaps get involved with them. So far, so good. But I have also seen really nice places become overwhelmed with people who learned of the opportunities in these places from some sort of media presentation.
I personally balance every article I write with the understanding that some places- like the Gulf Coast which runs for hundreds of miles- can take a lot of pressure and not be affected. But when I write about fishing on "Itty Bitty Creek" I know that too many people crashing in on the stream will ruin it.
I don't have a formula, but I consider each location and I present specific name and location information only on those places which are unlikely to be overwhelmed. If it's a small flow that can't take a lot of pressure, I will write about " a small high-country stream just outside of Bryson City, North Carolina" which could be any of dozens of streams. I don't name names.
Now, I am not casting stones, but some internet media folks- "You Tubers" and such, very often tell viewers where, when and how about very specific small waters, and then the small waters get fogged by folks. It would be a good thing if these media presenters would think a little more about what will happen if they give very specific names and locations of waters which are in risk of being overwhelmed.
It's a hard balance in this game to tell enough specific information to make the article worth reading, but not too much information to possibly kill the place- it ain't easy.

good night to all- Ed
 

trout trekker

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Yikes, this is your opening salvo.

This rant isn't so much about hot spotting a specific fishing area, but rather about publicizing a "hidden gem" on social media when that area can't handle the attention.


My thoughts are in italics. Yours are in bold.


" You can have throngs of people come to an area without completely trashing a place. Think Yellowstone, Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon. The primary differences, they are national parks, there are stricter rules, there is visitor peer pressure to protect them, they have entrance fees & strict enforcement. "

I agree, but I would add that all of those places are vacation destinations, and the cites around them are geared towards tourism.


" You and that river in your photo are in the Los Angeles area, one of the largest Vacation / Tourism Destinations in the world." Which would contradict your argument.


I think the image I posted above shows how this river functions more like a city park than a national park.


" I think the image conjures a watering hole near a third world refugee camp, certainly not a National Forest.


It is as both a summer escape from the heat of our valleys, and a casual introduction to the joys of nature.


"What joys of nature? Look again at the photo. Is there anything that hasn't been trampled? Were any of those in-stream diversions placed there for the protection of the stream, fish or wildlife. Or are they illegal diversion constructed to back up the flow for bathing. According to you, they placed sofa's and BBQ's in the river...."

More importantly (from a societal standpoint), our LA mountains and beaches and bike trails are the few egalitarian spaces where people of all socioeconomic backgrounds mingle. That typically happens more often in cities like New York, where Central Park, subway transit, etc. has all strata of society in the same space. Not so much in LA, where we tend to go from home to car to work and can "silo" ourselves from people different than us.

To your point about throngs without trashing: it could be done successfully on these mountains and rivers too, but it requires integrated management and significant investment in staff and infrastructure. There are areas on this river that have county (flood control), state (highway access) and federal (forest/monument/wilderness) jurisdiction all within 100 feet of each other.



" and this in not anything new to the acquisition and management of public lands, all thats required is the will to get it done.


U.S. Forest Service / Agency Focus


https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/national-forests-grasslands/agency-focus


At the very bottom of the page:


Recreation settings that have been impacted by declining ecosystem health, wildfire, and inappropriate use will be restored to improve the quality of outdoor experiences.


Unmanaged recreation will be resolved through a planned and properly designed network of roads, trails, and facilities, combined with educated citizen stewardship and partnerships, as well as field presence to provide quality recreation experiences while reducing the impacts of visitor use on the landscape.

Focused acquisition of rights-of-way and conservation easements will enhance access to recreation
settings while protecting the scenery and sense of place that make each recreation setting special.

One moment you're on a rant about an overrun space, the next you're making excuses for the behavior. Stop making excuses and hold your local agency / Forest Service directors accountable. They have a mandate.

Conflicted?
 
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pheldozer

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based on what i've seen since covid 19 started, there are no more secret spots in the lower 48. even ones that require hiking and 4WD access
 

yikes

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Trouttrekker, I haven't yet figured out how to do "quotes" like in the ol forum software, so bear with me.

Conflicted? Yes. Inconsistent? I don't think so.
What I am saying is a variation of "go big or go home". Our governments either need to treat the LA-adjacent wilderness interface as an urban design and recreation management issue, or they need to shut down access altogether, which probably means shutting it down to all of us. We need to choose either more attention, or more isolation.

Yes, of course Southern California is a major tourist destination - - but when destination tourists come here, they primarily think of the beach, not the wilderness. The beaches are managed with lifeguards, trash can, police patrols, paid parking, limited hours for certain activities, etc. We'd all prefer to have pristine coastline to ourselves, but this is how we've come to accommodate so many people.'

In contrast, the highways, parking areas, trash infrastructure, security, etc. in our wilderness is managed as if only a few dozen people are showing up. Planning terms like "dispersed camping" belie the reality that people are not dispersing, but are gathering much like a tailgate party at a football game. It's as if the game is to impress each other with how outlandish your outdoor furnishings can get. Yet even in this, they are enjoying nature. I've seen it up close: swimming, rock-climbing, floating in inner tubes. It's not how I would do it, but at least they are out there. (My own younger relatives prefer to just sit inside and play games on computer.)

These are not out-of-town tourists. These are LA residents within 40-50 miles. Further upstream, there is a significant homeless population that has left the streets to embrace the life of a camping prospector. All of these are city impacts being played out in a forest/wilderness setting. But the cities don't have management of the forest, and the forest service doesn't have management of the city.
There are examples of federal wildland/urban interfaces - - Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, etc. I think Springdale, UT got a federal planning grant to coordinate their town interface with the national park entrance. The park itself instituted a summertime shuttle that alleviates traffic.

To your point, yes I have spoken directly to forest management in the past. Most people who decide on the forest service as a career do not relish the idea of city park management, which is essentially what we're dealing with here. We seem to cycle through staff, as if it's a tour of duty until they can get reassigned to a non-urban area.
When I pressed previous managers about enforcing regulations (such as no mining), they say they are outgunned, literally, as miners have threatened them with arms.

My OP was about not publicizing areas unless the infrastructure is in place to handle the crowds. For our LA-adjacent forests/wilderness, it is too late. We must now manage them like the city parks they've become. That is a topic for another thread. Perhaps we should move this to PMs or to another subforum.
 

Hayden Creek

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I won't even share some spots with my wife. She doesn't fish but has clients at her salon that do. The covid impact being felt in all outdoor activities is enough. Too much talk at salons.
Loose lips and all...
 

Unknownflyman

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Public water and hunting land, parks, state and national forests and national parks. Its all online from the DNR and various government resources.
Every trout stream in Minnesota and Wisconsin is listed with catalogs and ratings and online. It`s not 1970.

Fly shops are selling and telling.

Sure your honey hole could be private, but not the area, getting your undies in a bunch over public information and water and land use is kind of funny actually.

Gentlemen, its busy this year, there has been a record number of licenses sold and record numbers are out of work and its busy in the woods. Alaska is #1 in licenses sold and Minnesota is number #2 in the US.

There are swimmers, hikers, campers, kayakers and canoes and all these people have just as much right to public water as fly fishermen.

I feel teaching respect and stewardship is the answer, the rest reads as old men yelling at clouds. It's a dangerous game suggesting limited use, cause fishermen might be first on the list, killers of fish and hunters next killers of game.
 

Hayden Creek

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Public water and hunting land, parks, state and national forests and national parks. Its all online from the DNR and various government resources.
Every trout stream in Minnesota and Wisconsin is listed with catalogs and ratings and online. It`s not 1970.

Fly shops are selling and telling.

Sure your honey hole could be private, but not the area, getting your undies in a bunch over public information and water and land use is kind of funny actually.

Gentlemen, its busy this year, there has been a record number of licenses sold and record numbers are out of work and its busy in the woods. Alaska is #1 in licenses sold and Minnesota is number #2 in the US.

There are swimmers, hikers, campers, kayakers and canoes and all these people have just as much right to public water as fly fishermen.

I feel teaching respect and stewardship is the answer, the rest reads as old men yelling at clouds. It's a dangerous game suggesting limited use, cause fishermen might be first on the list, killers of fish and hunters next killers of game.
I would never suggest limited use. But I will keep a tight lip.
 

jeep.ster

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Our tiny arizona streams can't handle the pressure but they're being listed online where to fish by our g&f for trout challenge programs. People who complete the trout challenges then post online and so on and so on. It seems like 80% of all the hype online refers back to the lists of streams that g&f posted. They've now posted even more small streams that make me cringe to think what will happen to them in the future. An example of what happens in arizona was our southern az native trout fishery. This fishery was very unique and so small two anglers would crowd the stream. At times it became a mob scene once it got popular online. People wanted to caravan down there from phx hundreds of miles away.
 

trev

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Anglers don't need to post water to have it over run by the hordes, kayakers have huge social media presence and they put a great deal more pressure on streams than all other users combined. My local stream has a normal flow of 100-150CFS, so relatively small, but I have seen 50-100 kayaks on it in a day and it is often the subject of kayak posts on fb.
Fact is that we have too many people that all have the desire to use "public" water. It does not matter if I keep this creek a secret if 10,000 kayak users and six dealers promote it.
 
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On another board I used to frequent, we were encouraged to post stream reports as a way of providing other forum members helpful information when contemplating long drives to areas with a finite amount of time to spend. I can understand the utility in this if it is a nationally known stream/tailwater etc. that is subject to ever changing flows etc. But it didn't end there. We had posters providing very detailed information on fragile blue lines whose populations could not withstand increased pressure. Soon after, you began to see more and more cars when you never saw them before. This led to increase harvest, litter, trespassing, and finally posting of all the property. The other internal conflict I have is sharing undocumented /unsurveyed blue lines that I have found with our fisheries biologists. On the one hand, I want the streams to be documented as having wild trout and thus receive greater protection from the state, but once so designated, the state then goes ahead and publishes the information- making it available to any and all who know how to navigate the fish commission's website. This of course, leads to new problems that didn't exist before outing the stream. Anymore, I keep everything close to the chest unless we're friends- in which case, I'll just take you there sometime :censored:
 
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