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It’s that time again: Caption Contest!!
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Time for another caption contest! Share your funniest caption for this photo and the winner will receive a FREE 1-year InTheBite subscription! The best replies will also be printed in our next issue, good luck!
by Capt. Jen Copeland
In many ways social media is defining the world around us. While skillfully maneuvering the Instagrams and Facebooks of the world can raise the professional profile of your career, posting things inappropriately can ruin your reputation, change the way people look at you, and even get you fired. Captain Jen Copeland provides a thoughtful, insightful breakdown of how sportfishing mates should approach the use of social media. It’s a good read for anyone, if you plan to make your career in sportfishing it is a must read. – ITB
Social media provides a unique look inside the world of sportfishing and the many interesting men and women who make up the sportfishing industry. Social media post
s show us what is biting where and allow us to preview new products. Social media—and the information it provides—has dramatically shortened the time necessary to make decisions.
Many participants in the sportfishing industry – top teams, small lure makers, tournaments, and brokerages – capitalize on the “perceived free advertising” Instagram and Facebook provide. Top teams use it for a real-time fishing reports and to track the success of their competitors. What once took captains hours, or even days to hear via the coconut telegraph, now takes only minutes. Most everyone is connected by social media one way or another and it has proven to be a real asset.
“Staying in touch with family and friends while you’re travelling enables more people to be involved in the sport, and everyone gets excited to see fish being caught,” says Captain Jimmy Werling of the Plane Simple. Werling, whose team is a regular on tournament leaderboards, keeps a watchful eye on his competition through social media. “Although I may not be competing with so-and-so this week, I may be the next week. I’m able to track the teams I need to watch out for.”
Of all the professionals surveyed about the subject, not one of them said social media was “bad” for the fishing business itself. In fact, they all agreed it provides a wealth of knowledge and information that is both informative and instantly accessible. But, there must be a down side, right?
While there is no doubt the sportfishing industry has become “instafamous” in the past few years, let’s not forget the possible repercussions from your “professional” posts. What you post can impact your immediate situation and even follow you into the future. Just as social media had made information available at the touch of app, it can also wreak havoc on your career should it not be used responsibly.
Kona Captain Bryan Toney of Marlin Magic says he has only used social media on a professional level for the last year. “I don’t post anything personal, I’ve strayed from that,” Toney says. “It (SM) is a great way to get yourself out there. But if you’re looking to further your career, my advice is to keep it completely professional.” Solid advice from a man who says, “I learned it the hard way.”
Anytime you post, comment or like something, it is a direct reflection on you and your character. Though you may not realize it, this can affect the way people think about you. Six degrees of separation? Possibly. According to Captain Doug Covin of Hatteras team Copper Leader, “I have used several different mates over the last few years, so I’ve used social media many times to do a ’background check’ to see what type of fishing a mate is doing or to see who his friends are.” Covin continues by saying “if a mate posts a lot of pictures of himself at the sandbar, or drinking with his buddies, then that’s very telling.” Very telling, but not in a good, professional way.
“It’s your resume you’re putting out there,” another captain points out. “Everyday out on the dock is a real-time interview to see how you carry yourself, how your boat looks. With social media, you don’t know who is watching you. It could be your captain, your owner, a future employer – one screw up could ruin your job, or your future – and that’s worth remembering.”
Living in the moment is one thing that makes the charm of sportfishing so alluring. If sportfishing is your chosen career, however, it’s wise to think of your future. In ten years, how do you want to be seen? Impressions do matter and no one is irreplaceable. As Captain Bryan Toney says, “Good mates don’t stay mates, they turn into responsible, respectable captains. And well, good mates with bad habits stay mates – if he’s lucky.”
The Bottom Line: “Could a mate’s indiscretions in social media content affect his career?”
Both Covin and Toney think it could, at least in the short term. Captain Jimmy Werling answered with a definitive, “100% yes.” He explains, “Once it’s out there, it’s always out there. To me, this means when you go to apply for another job, inappropriate posts will come back to haunt you,” he goes on to say. “If your social media profile makes you look like an idiot, then you are an idiot. It can define you, so be aware of what you put out there – it’s there to stay and for all to see.” Werling went on to tell me that his boss’ company has a very strict social media policy for the boat. If he goes to hire a new mate, the company will search the new hire’s social media profile(s) to help determine what type of person they are.
According to another top, competitive tournament captain (who prefers to remain anonymous), “Any future employer has the right to judge you on your social media habits. Most have been usually right when it comes to determining a personality based on your posts. It’s just another network. You must use common sense, and in this business, if you don’t have that, find another career.”
This estimation may sound harsh, but it is a harsh reality. The fact that others may make judgments on your skills or character by what you post on social media should not be a surprise. When it comes to your social media accounts, you put it there, so it’s an open invitation for anyone to “check you out” – private or public.
To Post or Not to Post?
What is inappropriate? That is a personal decision and one a responsible, mature mate should be able to easily make. Off the high of a stellar fishing day, you may be tempted to post the highlights ASAP. But there are a few factors you may want to consider prior to clicking the share button:
- Respect the boss’s wishes and privacy: Having worked for the same family for over 13 years, I can tell you that on more than one occasion the boss has called me to express his annoyance with how my mate had posted our day’s activities. He simply does not want to the general public (i.e. his company employees) knowing his personal business, how he spends his off-time, and more importantly, his toy collection. This is understandable—many private owners want to be private, off the social media grid or incognito. Part of your job is to respect his privacy. Respect himand he will respect you. When in doubt, the man with the gold rules, so it’s best to ask first. Either way you look at it, it’s wise to get your owner’s take on the matter.
- Put yourself in your captain’s shoes: It’s hard enough to keep his secrets “secret.” Having his hard work plastered all over your page enlightening your 2,000 followers that all your blue marlin came up on the purple dredge or green squid chain isn’t helping and is hardly acceptable. While many captains have their own social media agendas, they may prefer to make that decision on their own. Is it your place to make that decision for him? How do you want your mates sharing boat business when it’s time for you to make all the decisions? I thought so.
- The future of your career: Choose your posts wisely, with as much common sense as you can muster. Even a private account can easily be shared, so be advised. Posting your Saturday afternoon of dunk-a-roos or pre-tournament rounds of Fireball shots at 6:00am isn’t exactly making you look professional. Broadcasting such activities out there for the world to see certainly isn’t good for your resume. Remember, what happens on the boat, stays on the boat. Anything posted on the interwebs is there forever, and rest assured your next boss is going to have a look at your social media footprint and habits – he’d be a fool not to. Having any individual responsible for his multi-million-dollar operation, not to mention his friends and family, deserves a little past-delving…don’t you agree?
The bottom line is this, and top captains agree: thinking twice always makes you see things differently the second time. If you are committed to this fishing career of yours, regardless whether or not you are part of a private or charter program, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. The days of using social media to make yourself known and speak your mind are over. This “thing” has morphed into a permanent, real life window to your world, so be sure you are ready to have your current, or future employer peering into it.
It’s that time again… Caption Contest!
The best/funniest caption for this photo will receive a FREE 1-year subscription. Good luck!
Caption contest time! Share your funniest caption for this photo and the winner will receive a FREE 1-year subscription! Good luck!
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#What The Hell is Happening—The Strange World of Fishing Social Media
By Elliott Stark
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old timer, it is time that someone says it. For the love of God some people in sportfishing have gone far too crazy with social media. The fishing industry is not the only place where things have gotten crazy, but there are those among us whose social media habits have more in common with the likes of Britney Spears than with conduct suitable for the once dignified pastime that is big game fishing.
Could you imagine a picture of Hemingway standing next to a marlin with smiley faces and hashtags posted on the photo? What would have happened if someone hash tagged a picture of Davie Crockett with one the bears he killed with hearts, polka dots and emojis? He might have stopped bear hunting and started beating the person responsible. Now, for some reason, it is acceptable for even the manliest of men to take selfies holding fish…. #beachday! Something has changed.
Change is not bad. People used to actually get dressed up in tuxedos to fly on airplanes. These days you’re lucky if the guy next to you is wearing pants. This grand cultural shift got us thinking. Social media in the electronic age have changed fishing in some pretty strange and unexpected ways. Here is a list of some of the weirdest, most profound examples of change.
The Coconut Telegraph from Hell
In the early days of sportfishing, captains who fished in remote areas made sure to help one another. Given the difficulty of getting to places and the isolation once there (think Costa Rica in 1983 or St. Thomas is the early 1970s), boats understood the risks of fishing in far off places. If someone broke down, ran aground, or hit something while running, it was their fellow captains who would lend a hand to make sure that people and equipment were safe. This was an unwritten rule.
Today captains still help one another. The sportfishing industry is very tightly knit and most travelling captains have networks of friends ready and willing to help out in time of need. With the advent of social media, however, something very fundamental has changed. The change is not necessarily for the best either.
These days when something bad happens involving a boat—running aground, striking something, sinking, etc.— the first reaction of many is to grab their camera. Taking either pictures or video footage, onlookers are all too happy to capture someone else’s really terrible day. Once they have the pictures, it’s boom—straight to social media. “Like” whores don’t care whose picture they take, they just want likes.
Once the photos or videos are uploaded, even if the original photo is published with a message such as “Good thing everyone is safe, accidents happen…” it’s only a matter of time before a flood of insults, jokes, and ill-informed comments rain down from all corners of the internet. People from all walks of life— even those who have never set foot on a boat will comment– chiming in on what they think happened or what so and so should have done. With social media, for better or worse, everyone is an expert. Anyone can post anything.
Instantaneous news of an epic bite is great. When people a continent away find out that you’ve had the best fishing day of your life, that is pretty cool. But when something goes sideways and someone posts a picture of it, however, you’d better have some thick skin. You better not try to hide from it, either.
The Creation of Fishing Carnies…
Perhaps the strangest thing of all to happen because of social media has been the creation of fishing carnies. The word carnie is used to describe people who work at carnivals. They travel from town to town and constantly promote whatever it is that they’re doing along the way. They holler and dance around, generally harassing anyone who passes their way. The combination of fishing, self-promotion and social media have created some really crazy things.
You know the type, there are probably five or six that pop up on your phone. They are the ones who claim to have invented fishing and post live videos of themselves line dancing after catching a sheepshead. They often make crazy faces and weird hand gestures and force whoever is fishing with them on that day to do the same. They are generally nice people, many are excellent fishermen too.
Even when you can understand the motivation behind their actions—everyone has to make a living and most all people like to be recognized for what they do—it can be hard to take someone seriously who puts 50 hashtags behind the five things they post each day. What the hell does #MariahCareyMahiMahi mean? This can be especially hard to handle when you have good friends who do it.
“Oh, no buddy! Please stop putting things like that on social media…” You know it’s a good one when your wife calls, “Look what so and so posted now!” Everyone knows that guy, or sometimes a few of them.
The Purpose of Fishing.
For some, the purpose of going fishing is now to post pictures and selfies rather than to catch fish. What has happened? A charter man in North Carolina described recently that some of his clients now want to catch a few fish and race back to the dock to be the first to post the pictures of their catch on Facebook. Rather than trying to convince the captain to stay out for an extra hour or two of fishing, some clients cut their trips short in order to put some pictures online. For some, it is not the gratification of catching the fish that matters but the recognition for how many likes they can get from the picture of the act. This seems like a strange way to spend $2,000 per day.
Who Are You Fishing For?
Captain Tim Palmer is staple of the fishing community in Stuart, Florida. When it comes to fishing, Palmer has done it– if it swims he can catch it. Palmer is noticeably absent from social media. “I like keeping my cards close to my chest. It’s the way of the times, but I have a hard time sharing every aspect of my life,” Palmer reflects. “But I understand it as a tool for charter guys and those who need to promote what they’re doing.”
“A lot of knowledge that we attain is attained the hard way,” Palmer says. Before the advent of the internet, the most direct way of learning something was by doing it (you couldn’t just watch an instructional video on YouTube). “I’ve never had a Facebook account and I never will.”
Why does Palmer not have a social media account to show off all of the fish he’s caught? This is a fair question. In his living room, there are photos of 600-pound swordfish, giant grouper, huge blue marlin, permit the size of manhole covers, and 60-pound king salmon. Why not show this for all the world to see? For Palmer, the answer is simple, “I don’t fish for other people’s gratification, I fish for my own.”
The Loss of Adventure
Another unintended side effect of the power of the internet has been the loss of some of the adventure. While it is great to have access to videos about literally anything—that can show you before you go—some of the mystery and mystique of mastering the unknown may have been lost along the way. Captain Billy Borer started fishing professionally in the mid-1970s. Originally from Rhode Island, Borer started fishing in Stuart, Florida in 1978.
“The only things we had back then were radio, telephone and face to face conversations. Things filtered down from other places, but it was a lot slower than today,” the captain recalls. “There were no cell phones, no GPS and not much of the technology that we have today. Knowledge spread by guys going further and further.”
While a jaunt to the Bahamas today is common place, before GPS and satellite weather, such trips were altogether different. “Trips were a big deal,” Borer recalls. Reports of great fishing in some far-off corner of the Caribbean would entice captains and owners into having a go at fishing the unknown. Borer recalls the first captains to go to St. Thomas, Cuba and other fisheries that are now standard trips. “Some guys would have the gumption and would go. They’d come back with stories. It was a lot more of an adventure than it is today.”
“It was hard to be the first guys to go places. Lots of planning, lots of ifs and buts… lots of 55-gallon drums,” Borer says. “To me some of it has been lost… it was really exciting.”
Social media is not bad, but I’ll be damned if it’s not strange. Marketing and the spreading of news are wonderfully easy with social media. The power of social media is immense and it has literally transformed the way we interact with the world. That said, nobody likes a fishing carnie.