Cermele: Are Local Fishing Forums Helpful or Hype?

As another big winter storm bears down on the Mid-Atlantic, I'm sitting here thinking about all the little things anglers do to stay sane when you just can't get out. If you're a fishing forum reader like I am, you'll notice a giant boost in nostalgic "this one day back in October" posts. Misery loves company, even if that company is digitally connected. There are countless local fishing forums on the web that cater to almost every nook and cranny of the country. Question is, do you think they're worth a lick?

I know we have a thriving online community here at F&S, but I'm no fool. We have readers and posters from all over the country, so I'm sure many of you have favorite local fishing forums for your area. I know I do.

When forums first gained popularity, they were a great place to learn. I can remember getting genuinely good answers to questions, and felt like fellow posters enjoyed teaching. But lately, I feel like I hear people complain about local forums more than anything. The conversation starts like this: "I haven't posted anything on there in years because..." Because everyone misconstrues the slightest hint of location as "spot burning." Because everything I say worked for me, someone else says is wrong. Because everyone thinks they know more than everyone else. Because all guys like to do is call other anglers liars. The list is nearly endless.

I've read my share of forum shenanigans. I've even been the topic of some (it was once posted that I would be "drop-kicked in the face next time I was seen on the beach"...long story). My thoughts are that this trouble only starts because of the digital safety curtain. Face to face, most people probably wouldn't have the guts to trash and bash. I'm not saying there isn't still some merit to local forums, but nowadays, I won't post unless I have something really important to say.

What do you think? Have these info sources become soap operas, or do you still find them useful? And hey, if you like the soap opera part, that's cool, too - JC