As the 2014–15 fishing season comes to a close it's a good time to reflect on the work we've put into the Infish app over the past few years. As a keen angler it's been a pleasure working with the Inland Fisheries Service on the development of this app. With the user base heading into the thousands, the take up by anglers has been pleasing. We hear a lot of talk about big data these days but it can be worth remembering that even small data can become overwhelming.
Let me explain. The Infish app details around 200 inland fishing waters throughout Tasmania. At first glance, that doesn’t sound like a lot but if you consider the average working angler who has 26 weekends during the fishing season, then take away Christmas and other unavoidable responsibilities, rain, snow and storms (it's Tasmania after all) you’d be lucky to get 20 weekends. Divide that into 200 waters and you are looking at 10 years to get around to them all. That’s great for a methodical angler, prepared to keep a comprehensive check list of their fishing activities, but what other ways are there of connecting anglers with their new favourite angling location?
Geographical distance is the obvious one and the app offers this as the a primary way to locate water bodies. Fishing method (fly fishing, bait fishing or lure fishing) would seem like an obvious one, most water bodies accommodate all methods so this doesn’t offer any clear differentiation.
What are the factors that motivate anglers to go fishing:
- Relaxation, recreation
- I want to catch a lot of fish—the bigger the better.
- I want to demonstrate my skill as an angler. More difficult methods of angling, such as fly fishing, can install a sense of pride in the angler.
- Peacefully communing with nature
- Getting away from it all with friends
While geographic closeness may be a factor, it might be worth asking "at what point does geographic distance become a barrier?".
The average commute in Australia’s capital cities hovering around the hour mark each day (Melbourne 2013, this figure was 72 minutes a day). Sure enough, the ‘commute’ from Hobart to my fishing shack on the Tyenna River is around 72 minutes. That’s a bit of a drive but it’s manageable; about 76km. But if I drop that into the app, 50km from Hobart, I get 31 water bodies. That's about a year and a half’s worth of fishing weekends! Not that helpful, without even mentioning that some of these water bodies like the Derwent River are over 200km long.
What come’s next? How do we get the angler from downloading the app to fishing under that nice tree at that bend in the Tyenna River? How about a fishing spot calculator? Maybe. Just as long as we don’t send all the anglers to the same spot—or there’ll be a lot of scared fish, a lot of emptied handed anglers or both. For now, we’re following the clues: analytics, comments, feedback and fails, and planning the next range of features for Infish.
And when will the app be finished? Like all good trout, the app will swim upstream during spawning season and replenish itself for the year to come.