Last year around this time, I started a little “side-page” here on Truttablog in which I share my local fishing conditions. Not catches and flies and techniques mind you. Just water temperatures , which streams are blown out, which rivers are low, and the like. And then also just the ones I happen to know about, or have crossed in the last few days, or which friends have told me about.
It is an irregular and perhaps slightly unpredictable thing, because my travels are erratic and unpredictable. The result is a little bohemian, and certainly not something you can rely upon alone to plan fishing trips. I also only occasionally share the posts on Facebook and Twitter (which I am increasingly disenchanted with, by the way), the result being that the reports are something an interested fisherman would have to go looking for.
That sits well with me.
In some ways it is like the camaraderie and buzz that we used to have to go looking for before the internet came along. We would go into the fly shop in Maritzburg and hang around for a morning, eavesdropping and hoping to pick up on some news of where was fishing well. Or we would visit the booking office in Underberg and prick up our ears for news of what was producing, or which stretch of river was clean. We attended the fishing club meetings with similar objectives, and we hung on every word. The combination of information, as well as the inferences we were able to draw from multiple comments, reports or rumours, was what we used to plan our next day out. Or perhaps it was what guided us on whether it was worthwhile to go out at all. We had to work at it. Nothing was handed to us on a plate.
So in the last fifty two weeks, there have (co-incidentally) been fifty two reports on the page. No, not one a week: remember, I said they were erratic; but there have been fewer than two thousand views. That sits well with me too. Like the fact that internet searches generate more than five times the Truttablog site traffic than all social media channels put together.
In a world where people are punting themselves, and competing for attention on frenetically busy media channels in which worthwhile content is only discovered by endlessly sifting through a lot of noise, I for one am starting to move away from that. I arrive at a question or interest, and I go looking for the information that I want or need. I use a browser that limits tracking and blocks all advertising, and I do a lot more searching and a lot less sifting (or “scroll and judge” as my daughter calls it). And I enjoy the process more, find a lot of older content, and find more well-researched stuff. Do I spend less time online? Probably not, but I definitely waste less time. I also find cool stuff, and go down Google rabbit holes (actually “Duck Duck Go” rabbit holes) that completely absorb me, and have friends asking “how the hell did you find that?”
So, after fifty two weeks of running the water conditions page experiment, I think I will just keep it ticking over, un-punted and low key with no ego invested in the stats. If you happen to read it, and it helps you plan a day on the water, then maybe I have shared some of what I remember enjoying at the fishing club meetings, the fly shop, or the booking office.
That sits well with me.