Am I a fishing spot snob because I don’t disclose the details of where I fish when someone asks? I have definitive evidence that I am not.
I have learned from experience that there is a good reason to be evasive about good fishing holes. But let me start with a simple mathematical demonstration first.
In 2001, I take a friend, “person B”, to a good spot to fish, one that was shown to me five years before and that I haven’t told anyone else about. Assuming that I was the ONLY person that was told by the person that told me, and assuming that the person who told me found the spot himself, that’s only three of us who know about this great hole.
In 2002, person B takes his best friends, persons C and D, to the spot, telling them to please keep it to themselves as it is special. There are now five of us that know about the hole.
For the next three years, three of us tell no one. But one of us takes a close friend there, and another takes his dad who lives in town. By 2009, the seven of us have each told one additional person. Fourteen of us know about the hole and are pleased to have such a pristine place to fish. In the next two years, only three of the fourteen takes a single buddy there.
When 2011 comes around, it has taken ten years for that one person sharing a fishing spot to have unwittingly let seventeen others in on the special hole. And that is a conservative number.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE #1: the WATERFALL
Now that the math is out of the way, and in case you are thinking that what I’m describing is an unrealistic scenario, let me share two personal stories with you.
Shortly before I married my second husband, we followed a creek upstream in search of a waterfall that a close friend had told me existed. I was given the general vicinity and went exploring with the man who was my boyfriend at the time.
We found the waterfall and it was spectacular. After finding the falls by sound, then realizing the cascading water had made a large, deep pool in the lush shade of the cliffs and trees above us, we climbed the short but slippery slope and were rewarded with not only a waterfall that was something you’d see in a photo of the tropics, but also with a crisp, clean and chillingly cold pool that took our breath away when we stripped down to underwear and each took a plunge.
After we had stopped shivering from the swim and had dried in the sun, we decided together that this would be our special spot – a secret waterfall in the forest. It was a good feeling to know that we found something that was our own.
My boyfriend, however, had not only a good feeling, he had the urge to share his excitement with his close friend. He told this friend exactly where the waterfall was and explained how to get there. I remember telling him that I was disappointed that he told this guy about this spot we have found only hours earlier and claimed as our own.
He shooshed me and said I was being selfish.
Just one week later, at a friend’s barbeque, I listened in dismay as a woman I barely knew told the large group about a cool hike she did that weekend with SEVEN OTHERS. They went on an adventure, she explained, to find the waterfall that our friend had told them about. I was crushed, and felt sick to my stomach. Although the man became my husband, we never went there again together, and it wasn’t until several years after the divorce that I got up the nerve to go explore the spot again.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE #2: FLY-FISHING FOR CUTTHROAT
I have been pretty darn frugal about who I take to what fishing spots, and there was one place that in fifteen years I had only been to with one other boyfriend, and that was only because we were in the midst of a serious, five-year relationship and he had shown me several of his own secret spots.
When I started dating Woody (that’s a made-up name so as not to embarrass the real culprit), one of the things he loved was learning to fly fish. Not only was he a quick learner, he fished my style, meaning he could enjoy a slow day on a high mountain creek with no fish as much as catching big fish, left and right, all day long. He didn’t mind hiking to find good water, and he liked to fish in pairs, with one of us fishing and the other watching, rather than hole-hopping where two people fish at the same time in separate holes and leapfrog each other upstream.
So if anyone was worthy of learning about my very special spot, it was him. This spot was unique because it was just 30 minutes from my front door, with less than half a mile on dirt roads. Although it was near a main road, very few people knew that this creek was fishable, and that there were good-size, wild cutthroat in every pool. From the car to stepping in the creek was just a ten minute hike. We went there many times in one summer, and he verified his understanding that this was a special spot and not to be shared.
Woody and I amicably went our separate ways the following winter and when our paths crossed after that, we sometimes talked about trips up to the creek and compared stories. It wasn’t until it was too late and fifty-thousand copies of a publication were distributed in the community that I realized what he had done.
In an interview about his business for a local summer visitor’s guide, this man who I had shared something special with, something that was almost as sacred as sex to me, had said in the publication that in his spare time he liked to go to this great location because it was excellent fly-fishing and close by. Although he didn’t specifically identify the spot, just by naming the vicinity allowed anyone to look at a map and easily narrow down the options.
I was crushed, deflated, disillusioned, and definitely burned bad enough to know that I wouldn’t make that same mistake again.
HOW LONG IS LONG ENOUGH?
Is there a length of time, then, that a dating relationship should be established before one should share their sacred fishing holes? Since I haven’t gone back to the cutthroat spot in the years since it was printed in 50,000 magazines, I have only a few other secret locations left to share. I wonder what my criteria will be before I take a special someone to those spots. Will it be based on a gut feeling, or on how many new spots they have showed me first?
For now, if I meet someone who wants to go fishing, they will have to prove themselves not only worthy of knowing where the good spots are, but of knowing well the unspoken rule of being very prudent with who they choose to share the information with.
I’m not a snob by being vague about where I fish. I’ve just learned from experience that telling even one friend can grow to many in a very short time.