We sit down with Rick Blalock, the co-founder of Fish Rules and newest member of the Fishbrain family, to discuss the groundbreaking Fish Rules App, Fishbrain and all other things fishing.
Continuing our coverage of Fishbrain’s game changing acquisition of Fish Rules, we sit down with Rick Blalock, the co-founder of the Fish Rules App. Blalock was the programmer behind the app and is just as passionate about everything fishing as we are.
FB: Can you tell us the specifics that led to the development of Fish Rules?
RB: I was on a fishing trip with Albrey Arrington and we were discussing what all anglers have in common and what we came up with wasn’t gear, or species, it was regulations. No matter how much you study the regulations they can change and they can change fast. You may think you know what they are, but if you go on a boat for a couple miles, they can be completely different. Gear changes, bag limits change and all sorts of crazy stuff.
FB: What role do you see technology playing in fisheries sustainability?
RB: The first thing is, crowdsourced data. The way scientists are currently surveying data is based on a 50 year old model. The surveys can be antiquated and there are huge gaps in the data. THey are making very important decisions on fisheries and people's livelihoods, but they are doing it without the best data. Fish Rules uses citizen scientists to crowdsource this gap in data and we want that data to help fill in those gaps for even better scientific data.
FB: Is there a water system, or part of the country you particularly think could benefit from Fish Rules next?
RB: We need more freshwater for all the southern states and that is the low hanging fruit.
I'd love to modernize the way real-time updates happen on some of the rivers and streams, since they can close and open at a moment's notice
FB: How do you see Fish Rules and Fishbrain helping to tear down the barriers that prevent people from going fishing, often for the first time?
RB: Fishbrain helps people be more successful when fishing. By teaming up, Fish Rules can help with regulations and understanding these regulations to help for a more sustainable fishery and Fishbrain can help anglers find more success on those fisheries.
FB: What are some of the most specific and complicated rules that you have run into while fishing?
RB: A common thing that anglers keep getting wrong is red snapper, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. It's one of those stocks that changes all the time. It's a carefully watched set of rules that are watched all the time and are different. There is a lot of drama surrounding this one species, especially in the Gulf.
FB: Are there any particular species that come to mind that show the value of effective fisheries regulations?
RB: Goliath grouper is a great one. 25-30 years ago you could go diving and rarely see one. Now they are almost a nuisance. Albrey even speared a beautiful greater amberjack and had a goliath grouper come up from behind and steal it right from his hands.
Now, this year Florida announced they will be considering a limited season for goliath groupers, where anglers will have to acquire a tag similar to a hunting permit. It's a great success story.
FB: What is your background in fishing?
RB: I grew up in Jupiter and as a kid I would hop on a bike to meet with friends to fish intercoastal inlets. I’d often go to my grandmother’s in Lauderdale where she taught me to catch snook. Albrey’s brother would pick me up when we were in HS to set crab traps, cast netting and other fishing. Now almost all the fishing I do is with Albrey, or with my kids. There’s no such thing as peaceful fishing with Albrey, though. You are fishing and working all day, but it is very adrenaline pumping. By the end of the day you are just amped.
FB: Have you fished in many exotic locales? And if so where were they?
RB: I did live in Peru for two years and east of Lima there is a beautiful river in a desert area. We caught a species of salmon there and the Peruvians cooked it for us bones in and head on. It was a great memory.
FB: Do you have an all time favorite fishing memory?
RB: How about my most notorious fishing memory? When we were building Fish Rules we were on the boat with Albrey. I had my laptop and was coding the app. Albrey would travel between Federal waters and State waters and I was testing the app. Someone on the boat pulled up an amazing cobia and asked what the regs were. I couldn't get the regs to load fast and Albrey threw the fish overboard. It really emphasized the need for speed and reliability with the app.
FB: What’s your all time favorite species?
RB: As a joke my all time favorite is a basking shark. It's like a meme fish with Albrey and I, but my actual favorite is probably hogfish. Its beautiful and has such a unique anatomy with how their jaws are shaped and their spines are beautiful plus they taste amazing.
FB: Is there anywhere, or any fish on your bucket list?
RB: Besides the basking shark, I am so jealous of Albrey spearfishing yellowfin tuna in Guatemala. I would love to do a similar trip.