Coming over the rise crowned by four old oaks with their glistening silver-green tops of just unfurled spring leaves, I could hear it before I saw it. The trill of frogs carried on the southern breezes and faded as my buddy and I made our way to the small spring-fed pond. Before we even fired a cast, I could see the fish – bass and large panfish – lazily milling about on the emerald edge where the clear blue depths of the water rose up to meet the shore. It was a secret spot if I’d ever seen one – small, isolated and easily over-fished – so for its sanctity, it will remain that way. This is not so much to serve as a taunt to you, dear reader, but to encourage you to seek out (and keep secret) your own special fishing spots.
Because there is something exciting about finding a fishing spot which usually comes after the rush of fast fishing and then having it all to yourself, or a close friend or two to share the experience with (along with some sort of blood pact sealed in black candle wax under a blue moon at midnight) that you’ll never share the location with anyone else, and return again and again. Even if it’s a public place on a large piece of water, or the smallest bend of river tucked a few miles away from the nearest access point, a spot that provides solitary, successful fishing is something to hang on to.
When my friends and I first started fishing my home river hard, my buddy and I planned a ten-mile drift back home from the dam north of town. It wasn’t a couple miles in and we were anchored upstream from a small spot where the walleyes stacked behind a sunken stump like so much cord wood the trunk and branches would have left behind. They increased in length from the mid teens to the upper 20s until we pulled two dozen loose from the pocket and drifted away. We’d keep the spot between us – spurning family and other friends – until my buddy came over from Norway and I begged to get him on the spot until my co-discoverer finally relented. So far – as far as I know with my travels taking me away from that sandy stretch of river – it remains between the three of us.
In my first forays for largemouth bass, my brother and I hoofed it around a small lake in the chain of waters just downstream from our family’s cabin. On the north side of a north bay littered with just emerged lily pads, we made our way through brambles and poison ivy patches to a small backwater connected by the tiniest inlet. Dropping down our polarized shades as we stood on the greening edge of the bay-within-a-bay revealed a jaw-dropping jackpot of jumping bass that inhaled our every offering and cartwheeled over the surface when hooked. Over the years, the inlet has been deep enough to scoot a small boat in, and in other seasons too shallow to surf our way into the backwater forcing us to get out and stand in the sandy break, or cast from the bow into the dark staging area loaded with largemouths. We held the spot in confidence with a select few that came with us over the years, and it was always a highlight of the Memorial Day weekend when the bass would be up staging to spawn, jam-packed into the black-bottomed backwater.
If you’re out there looking, these secret spots pop up from time to time, but only if you’re logging the miles, doing the scouting and covering water. A little planning, a hot tip, a mix of mapping, some sweat equity and some seasonal luck often come together in finding the secret spots to be saved in a GPS, or maybe they’re even too secret to put in any electronic device. Because the ultimate lesson learned about them is that secret spots only stay secret when held between you or maybe that select handful of trusted angling buddies that you discovered them with…in our outdoors.