By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer
Only a few short years ago anglers could only get their fishing fix by going fishing or watching others fish on TV. Now, in the Internet age, fishermen have a wealth of resources to supplement their days on the water. Whatever your interest, answers are as close as your computer keyboard. Want to learn how to tie a particular knot or a permit fly? Wondering where the fish are biting or what the tides are for your fishing trip next week? You can even learn about the licensing requirements for an excursion to Venezuela or lodges that cater to fly fishermen in the Bahamas. The Internet has a wealth of wonderful information and tons of junk. You have to know the right questions to ask to get the right answers.
Cast your net wide by typing "fishing" in Google (www.google.com), the net’s current #1 search engine, and you’ll have 55,200,000 Web sites to choose from. There are also 459, 000 fishing related images, 1,680,000 groups with fishing links, as well as a directory and news. If you want to go fly fishing in the Bahamas and you’ve heard great thing about Andros, type in “fly fishing Andros” and you’ll get approximately 17,500 Web sites. Google is looking up everything on fly fishing and Andros. Narrow the search by putting quotes around the query and you’ll narrow the search to 20 sites specific to fly fishing Andros.
When searching the Internet, be as specific as you can by entering words that narrow the inquiry. This advice will get you close in your search, but it may take some further sleuthing to find the site that fills the bill. Narrow your search down as far as you can, and then start paging through the results to view the Web site.
If this all seems very confusing, that’s because it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. The best way to learn is to practice. Time on the Web, when used intelligently, is fun, interesting and very informative.
Here are a few sites you might want to check out. They have information on tides, what’s biting, where the action is, clubs, events and much more. Captain Mel Berman’s Online Fishing Florida Magazine has to be the most comprehensive site in our area, if not in Florida. Many of you may know Mel as the host of the Mel Berman Show on Tampa’s 970 WFLA radio. His Web site, www.capmel.com has a wealth of information for local anglers. Learn from others, and share your thoughts through chats, forums and e-mail. You can even listen to the Saturday morning talk show via the Web site.
Bite Tracker at www.bitetracker.com is a site where you can get the most up-to-date information on what’s biting. The site provides anglers real time access to fish tracking charts with information phoned in daily from the water. There’s also video, hot spot profiles and an offshore guide with GPS listings. Join the site and you’re eligible for e-mail alerts when the bite is on. Bite Tracker covers the water from Hernando County thorough Charlotte Harbor. Owner Nick Stubbs is taking the site high tech with interactive video and audio to allow Web surfers access to video conferences with local experts.
When you’re planning your next trip, you might want to stop by The Angling Report, www.anglingreport.com, an independent online (and print) newsletter on fishing travel.
The Angling Report gives fishermen the the good, the bad and the ugly lowdown on destinations, lodges and guides. The site concentrates on quality fly and light tackle fishing in the U.S. and abroad and is written by anglers who actually traveled to and fished the destinations.
Want to chat with other anglers? Try sites like www.flyfishingforum.com, or www.floridasportsman.com. The possibilities are endless, so take a load off, fire up the computer and see what you can find. Rremember, you’ll want to narrow your focus to the sites that are worth your time.