“Secret secrets are no fun. Secret secrets hurt someone.”
You’ve probably heard the phrase. But if you know anything about fishing, you know whoever coined the phrase wasn’t an angler.
Fishing and secrets go hand-in-hand. These days, you can learn just about anything by spending a few minutes on Google, YouTube or Wikipedia. And while those sources certainly hold lots of fishing info, becoming a good angler still requires first-hand experience and knowledge that can only be passed along by close, trusted sources.
Quick, name the best angler you know. Chances are it’s an older relative. And if you think about all the places you fish and the methods you use, odds are you learned them from that same mentor.
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Fishing secrets predate recorded history. It’s not hard to envision early hunters and gatherers safeguarding their best spots. After all, those folks depended on what they caught to survive.
As humans evolved, competition fueled the need to keep information close to the vest. Those habits persist today — just watch “Wicked Tuna” or “Deadliest Catch” if you want to see how seriously commercial anglers guard their fishing secrets.
For recreational anglers, catching fish isn’t a matter of survival or professional success. But nowadays, it seems harder than ever to keep anything a secret. Want proof? Post a photo of your latest catch on social media and watch the comments section morph into an interrogation.
What lake were you on? What time of day? What lure? What was the water temperature? What color underpants were you wearing?
How you answer is up to you. Politely keeping things vague is totally above-board, especially when it comes to your honey holes. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort learning your craft. Why spill your guts on Facebook and give away that knowledge for free?
As a fishing writer, I often find myself walking that fine line. I want to give readers useful tips and information they can use to go out and catch fish. At the same time, I don’t want to give away the farm.
But since you’ve made it this far in a column about secrets, I’ll give you just this one:
There’s really no such thing as a fishing secret.
When you think about the millions of hours Idaho anglers spend on the water every year, it would be naïve to think you have a fishing spot or method all to yourself. Unless your secret spot is well hidden deep on private land, trust me: Someone else is fishing there. And unless your favorite lure is a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind model, someone else is fishing with it, too.
Still, insider knowledge holds value. Brownlee Reservoir is by no means a secret, but I have some cool, seldom-used methods for catching catfish and crappie there. Plastic worms are far from classified, but I have a specific brand in a specific color that almost never fails to fool largemouth bass. And yes, I have a few off-the-beaten-path spots that I know are almost guaranteed to produce fish. I like to save those for visiting friends, nieces, nephews and, in a couple years, my daughter Quinn.
Even if nothing is truly top-secret anymore, it’s fun to hang on to your tried-and-true fishing traditions. So keep those secrets, if you wish. They just might help you catch some fish.