Rely on a Secret Spot - The Fisherman

Rely on a Secret Spot

a nice walleye
Large lakes offer plenty of spots you can call your own, even if plenty of other anglers know about them. Mark Licht displays a nice walleye from one of the writer’s.

While new water provides the excitement of uncertainty and adventure, home waters offer consistency through familiarity and knowledge.

Some of us feel pulled towards the adventure of fishing new water, and then pushed back to home water to compensate. Although any of us might remember fishing while on vacation as the high point of his angling career, a faraway place little accessible to him is no standby. Home water shapes us as anglers, sustaining and sharpening our angling habits as romances with the ideal can’t.

Taken as a whole, an angler’s repertoire of home water has a history unique to him, as does each spot that composes the total. Each began as a new adventure, and he finds often the most compelling memories associated with his favorite spots come from the beginnings, not necessarily because the biggest or the most fish got caught, but because the mystery of spots new to him begged to be known.

You can never begin to know everything about the littlest spot, but you can bestow each with a presence growing in knowledge about how to fish there, creating a narrative that picks up on each return. An illusion of deep familiarity develops, and a bad hour or two—or full day—can alienate this vision and remind you that a spot doesn’t really exist to suit your pleasure. It exists by natural law independently of your wishes, and this realization forces upon you the need to see a spot for what it really is and think further about the fishing there.

Despite resisting your efforts to make it yield, a spot is reliable if you keep it secret. For a blogger like me who seems to spot-burn every opportunity in his region, this can seem an unexpected statement, but no amount of information offered online will even begin to tell everything. Whatever gets told isn’t the point anyway, but I’ll answer to the typical and, I think, misguided concern. When I do cite location, which I don’t always do, it’s revealed more or less in general. When I name a river, lake, or pond, I’m confident it won’t destroy the fishing, and I test my presumption by returning to spots I’ve disclosed. Friends of mine know spots I fish and don’t name on the blog, but they never know my appreciations as well as I do. It’s not possible for them to know, no matter I might say.

Such is the secret you can’t help but keep, and it is the secret you should nurture. If you take a friend to a secret spot, just point him to some fish. The story you create for your own pleasure isn’t all the secret amounts to anyhow. While you can impress only some knowledge about a spot upon a friend or family member, bringing them along will throw some light into the picture as they shape their own story, shedding some, though you’ll never fully know their experience.

Besides big fish and big-number-days that create a myth in the mind, a scenario motivating you to catch more fish, home water allows a progressive honing of skills. You know something of what to expect, so further skills there by building upon previous exercise of them. If you keep a log, you have written evidence of how you’ve fished that can jog memory for more specific details while you prep. While fishing, you’ll find memory serves as it couldn’t before you got there.

Whether a secret spot prompts you to experiment with new tactics, or to settle into a way of fishing you like best, skills should improve, and you might be surprised. Just the other day, while discussing with my brother Rick the walleye fishing we anticipate at two of my favorite spots late in October, he told me he wants to jig them. I told him I might be amenable to Binsky bladebaits, but although I’ve caught walleye on them, the past 12 years of fall fishing there has settled my preference upon setting live herring along drop-offs. He came up with a compromise, suggesting we also try slip bobbers.

I’ve done that a little, though it’s outside my comfort zone, but since he’s interested, I told him I will include slip bobbers as I prep. After all, I told him, hybrid stripers—also at these spots—usually suspend over bottom. So thanks to planning on bringing Rick along, my skills may grow all the more.

Check out Bruce’s blog at



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