Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Secret Sharer Redux

For the past several months, I've been in something of a story telling funk. The words haven't come easily, and as a consequence my keyboard has gone practically untouched. This isn't to say that I haven't anything about which to write; anyone who spends a life fishing is going to have stories to tell, but the way in which to tell those stories remains elusive.

Fortunately, I've several years of material to draw from. For the next few days - or weeks, or months - I'll be republishing some of this blog's older posts. I start with The Secret Sharer not because it is especially well written, but because it expresses a notion that seems at odds with the act of blogging about fly fishing: keeping secret our best fishing spots.

The Secret Sharer 

Robin Hill (of Spey Nation fame) and I recently spent the better part of a day cruising a local lake, looking for any small sign of the outsized carp that we both believe swim its windblown currents. At one point late in the day, Robin looked over at me and remarked, "It's because of this ... because of days like this. People write us [Robin and Spey Nation co-founder Geoff Shaake] all the time asking why we don't discuss the places we fish. This is why."

He was absolutely right. Days like the one we experienced are the reason so few bug chuckers divulge the whereabouts of their piscatorial stomping grounds. We were methodically exploring every back back bay on the southern end of the lake. We had miles of water under the hull and under our lines, and at the end of the day we parted ways knowing that neither of us would ever tell people what we discovered or where we had fished.

As juvenile as it must seem to someone who doesn't fish, the simple truth is that secrecy is the rule. What's the first rule of Fight Club? And the second?  "You do not talk about Fight Club."

So too with fishing, but the question remains. Why?

Robin nailed it. We - the too few members of the faithful fraternity of fly flingers - do not talk about the places in which we wet our lines simply because of the work we've put into getting to know those places. Robin and I explored every back bay on the southern end of the lake. We put miles under the hull and under our lines. We stared into the shallows until our vision was blurred by the glare of the sun. We changed flies, lost flies, tweaked the design of new flies, but we did not catch a fish. Not one. We were skunked, busted, blanked. By any metric, we had a very tough day on the water.

Sometimes I'd swear that they really are ghosts
And again ... we will never tell anyone but our closest compadres where we fished.

Given the stench of skunk, I think it obvious that our secrecy doesn't result from having discovered angling gems that we want to hoard and keep to ourselves. We all know of places where the fishing can be exceptional, but exceptional fishing is not the reason we speak in code if we speak at all. Rather, we are oftentimes tight-lipped to the point of being antisocial because we've worked hard for what we have. We're reluctant to share with the world because the world does not share our experience.

So ... I've some advice for anyone who hopes for the key to the inner sanctum.

Do the work yourself.

Buy a map. Walk the bank. Float a section of the river or the edges of a bay. Take the time to learn the water, and you'll likely be surprised by how prolific the fishing may be. Then take what you learn, and lock it away. Keep it safe. Don't tell anyone, least of all me. In doing so you'll learn the greatest secret of all.

The best fishing is never about the river or the lake. It's not about a particular run or pool. The best days on the water are never about the spot. The best days we have will invariably come as a result of having worked to achieve them, and as a result of having failed along the way. It's all about the effort. It's all about the work.

Demonstrate the effort, and you'll find the right spots. Do the work, and you'll have your own secrets to share.


Robin Hill said...

Well said, I'll have my wife read this because she thinks I'm crazy with how I won't tell others about my "spots."

shaq said...

Truer words haven't been spoken. If you're willing to fight through thorns and mud and take chances with me and on your own then you can prove yourself worthy. If not then the kayadeross is stocked well.