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An anglers best kept secret shared by few others
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Pastor shook my hand Sunday, as he usually does, skipped over the formalities and went straight to fly fishing. With the grin of a curious fisherman, he asked about the Montana Special.

“You don’t ...”

I cut him off. He was about to provide me an out, the “I know how fishermen are, and you don’t have to tell me what it is”.

Of course, I would tell him.

Not that I thought a bolt of lightning would descend from the heavens next time I was flipping a fly, because I didn’t share fishing secrets with my pastor, but he asked. \

So why shouldn’t I be candid with a fellow fly-caster?

I explained what it was, where I get it, and that I have yet to find it around here. As the congregation filled past, we drifted into the most kept secret of fishermen — spots.

We agreed that most fishermen are selective about who they let into their inner circle of trust.  But one tells one, and once the circle of trust is shared, it quickly becomes Olympic Rings of trust, some intersecting, but dudes you have never met inevitably poach fish in the spot you were kind enough to reveal to someone you thought you could trust.

I ran the “How much do you tell?” question by my buddy Nate later that day. Do you reward curiosity with exact lures and precise locations?


Fishermen are used to ambiguity, so most of the time the direct question is never asked, and specificity is not demanded.

“There’s that rock, just below the bridge. Hot every time.”

I have a few spots on the Stanislaus that have served me well, but haven’t had the chance to keep it a secret. No one asks with enough detail, though out of habit, I am vague.

When it comes to the if-you-don’t-catch-fish-here-you-should-quit-fishing spots I have at home, most people know about them anyway or have their own, and when the bottom of the river is hidden beneath the bodies of salmon, it’s not all that difficult to find them.

Just aim for the water.
Even so, there are some spots that have a particular wildness to them. Two summers ago, my buddy Jay showed me a spot for rainbow and Dolly Varden that I had never fished. It was ridiculous.

Jay, my brother and I all took to one pool and caught trout on almost every cast, and the river was only a half-cast wide.

That’s Jay’s spot. I stay clear, unless I went by myself or with him.

It’s almost as easy as my spot on Memorial Beach on the north end of Prince of Wales Island where Nate and I caught 60 fish in an hour and a half. We didn’t keep any, because stupid fish aren’t usually good eating. Well, unless you like fast food fish. We stood on the shore and casted next to a kelp bed and hauled them in by the bucketload.

“We’ve probably caught 300 number 7’s,” Nate said referring to whatever number on whatever fast-food menu was the fish sticks of filet of fish.

I’d take anyone there and rig them up with the lure off my swivel, because some places you can throw out a piece of moss with sap on it and catch fish - this is one of them.

Actually, anyone I take fishing has probably traveled a couple thousand miles and spent some serious coin, so I’d show them all of my favorite spots.

Anyone that trusts that I know how to catch them fish, or what to do if a bear shows up has every right to full disclosure. It’s fun to watch people fight their first salmon, awkward if I am the only one having any fun.

But do I want to prove to someone that’s not sharing the shore I know where to go and what to use?

They are the two most pondered questions, other than where and when, and apparently I’m not even that clear on how I’d answer them.

Maybe pastor just caught me on a good day, and he’s only halfway to actually catching the fish.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail