Greetings FishTalk readers, and welcome to the last edition of 2019. Thanks for grabbing this magazine (okay, we're going online now, but hopefully you grabbed the print edition weeks ago), and I sincerely hope you enjoy every moment you spend flipping through these pages. I also hope that doing so helps you catch more, bigger fish!

cover of fishtalk
Our final edition of FishTalk, for 2019. We just can't wait for the 2020 fishing season, and 12 more editions!

As the year comes to a close, I’d like to revisit a topic we addressed very early on when we first began publishing this magazine: truth and disclosure. In the current media environment it’s tough to know who’s full of BS, who’s telling the truth, and who doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about in the first place. That’s why we initially published our FishTalk “manifesto” when we first went into publication. Here’s a recap, for those of you who missed it or don’t remember:

  • We’ll never “hide” paid advertising in any article, section, or column in the magazine or on our web site. If an advertiser wants to sponsor a section, or run a promotion in print or on our website, it’ll be marked as such in big bold letters that don’t require a microscope to read.
  • We FishTalkers will maintain the final say on anything and everything that goes into the magazine and up on the website. We’ll never sign a contract giving anyone else that ability.
  • In any type of review, as well as bringing out an item’s strong points we will point out any down-sides or room for improvements that we spot.

Will we shy away from including an advertiser’s offerings in our editorial content, just because they advertise? Heck no! Might we give them preferential treatment in a toss-up situation? Of course! Without our advertisers we can’t exist, and after going for about a decade with no Mid-Atlantic oriented fishing magazine prior to the launch of FishTalk, we all know what that’s like. Thanks goodness we have boat dealers, tackle shops, and product manufacturers who want to step up and play a role in making sure our fishing community is properly served – we should be thanking them. And as readers, we bet you want to know who they are. We also believe that by being completely up-front about where we stand, anglers will know that they can trust what they read on these pages.

Why are we reprinting this now? Because recently, an advertiser who had a new product asked us if we’d review it. It looked like a useful and interesting fishing tool that you folks would be interested in, so we said sure. Later, however, the manufacturer asked us to send them the article before we printed it so they could make sure it lined up with their branding and marketing goals. Here’s my exact response, cut and pasted from the email:

That's sort of against our standard publishing practices for editorial content. In fact, in one of our initial "Notes" columns we published our "manifesto" of commitments to the readers in which we specifically promised we'd keep a firewall between editorial and paid content in this way. In a paid placement (an ad), of course a manufacturer has the say on what appears. But in a piece like this that's strictly editorial, the writer is expected to give his or her honest assessment of a product without a manufacturer's influence. When it goes up online, I have no problem with including links that help bring the reader to your site in the appropriate spot (and can certainly take input on that), but if we took manufacturer input prior to editorial publication it would really risk violating our reader's trust. [Redacted]

I really hope you understand, we need to live up to this commitment to the readers or they wouldn't have the confidence to trust what they see in FishTalk. Thanks!

I recognize that some doubters will read this, shake their head, and assume I’m full of BS. Those are going to be people who don’t know me, nor the team at Spinsheet Publishing, and our collective reputations. I heartily stake my personal reputation on the fact that the above is real. It’s a cut-and-paste (only redacted where necessary to protect privacy), and yes I do have the email records to prove it. And I reiterate our promise: we will always bring you anglers the trout, the whole trout, and nothing but the trout.