Jason was the first. “Don’t take any pictures that will show where you are,” he made me promise. There should be no skylines, no unusual formations that people familiar with the area could identify. He was very serious, and I took it seriously.
We know that there most likely are fish in any waters that will support them; we know they are not everywhere in those waters. Finding the particular places they prefer to be is what makes all the difference in our success. That is why we hire guides and are lucky to have knowledgeable friends.
My guide for the Rangeley trip was next. We fished the Magalloway on our second day, a river I have fished several times. We entered from the highway at The Mailbox, the same spot I, along with hundreds of others, enter to fish that side of the river. But, we did not proceed to the popular site. He told us he was disappointed because he asked his clients not to divulge the path he took, but one of them obviously had, and now the way was marked. I offered to return with him in the early spring and over-plant it.
I don’t know what secrets he shared with Jessica, but he set me up on a stretch of water and told me to cast just beyond the line where the river separated to go around a large boulder. There are a multitude of such lines along the river, and I have fished them in a similar fashion. Tom also told me to immediately get my line back in the water after the drift. In this particular section, after the split there was another big rock with a deep hole just behind it. There was a very good chance there was a trout in that pit. If the fly drifted above, a strike was imminent. And, if there were a missed strike, you wanted to get right back and give him another chance! I took a really nice brookie out of the Magalloway that day. (And put him right back of course!)
The reason for secrecy was explained rather emphatically by Bob Mallard at a TU meeting last winter. He had a magazine with him with a picture of a gigantic wild brook trout that had been caught, photographed with the proud fisherman, and released. Unfortunately, the picture was posed in front of a well-known landmark on the lake.
During the open water season, fishing is catch-and-release. Not so for ice fishing, and when that season opened the spot was surrounded by shacks. The trout was caught, photographed, and eaten.
Digital pictures on all our devices currently pose another threat. Many are equipped with gps, and that information is available to any viewer. Some guides will ask that their clients turn off such cameras, phones, etc. before taking them to those special, private places.
Those ‘secret’ fishing sites took time and effort to locate. People do not divulge them readily, and, when they do trust us, we need to treat them as we would any secret. To do otherwise betrays a human bond. In the case of our guides we are infringing on their livelihood, rather like bootlegging music or movies. With our friends, we can be sure they will not be trusting us with anything in the future.