Finding Fish - Why will no-one tell me where to fish?
Derek's Fishing Pages
Memorable Fishing Trips
Returning to Fishing
Bait & Groundbait
Presents for Anglers
It's a common complaint that experienced anglers won't pass on their 'secret' venues. In fact they aren't really secret, just not to be advertised. Often they are happy to give general directions rather than precise locations.
As you will have gathered, locating fish is the fundamental requirement. If they're not there you will not catch any no matter how hard you try. Unfortunately a great many people are either unable to find fish, or, more likely, are unwilling to put in the effort required. Which is all very well but those who have put in the effort are understandably annoyed if they cannot fish the venue they have found because it's too crowded...
Example number 1
Less than ten miles from my home in Dorset is an excellent saltwater flyfishing venue. I first caught a bass on the fly there in the 60's but it only became a banker venue after the channels moved. From 1991 we could reliably take 30lb of fish each on a tide but the precise methods changed according to the season. Naturally we couldn't keep the venue totally secret and several other skilled anglers became regular visitors.
So far so good. Then someone wrote about the venue on a www page. Every now and then we would find strangers fishing there but as they hadn't been told how to fish the water they mostly went at the wrong times and used inappropriate methods. All we had to do was wait and most of them would leave, fishless. A very few, watchful, anglers worked out the venue and joined the regulars. We would even help some of them get started, give them suitable flies and show them how to fish the water.
Sometimes it got a little crowded but generally it was possible to work out a way for everyone to fish — The venue is tight and dangerous. There's not a lot of room you see. Four careful anglers, six in extremely rare circumstances with the wind in the right direction, fill the fish taking places. Two unskilled anglers cannot fish safely together or with anyone else not used to dodging ill-cast fly-lines.
Then someone (who shall be nameless but I'll have words with him next time I see him.) made a video fishing the venue. I haven't seen the video but I can tell what time of year he made it by the methods the hordes of visitors use. Tempers are lost, I don't think there have been any fights yet but I wouldn't be surprised to hear of them. One day I went down with a friend at the fish-taking time and found four people from Liverpool, three from Norwich and a couple of others standing around and grumbling because there was no room for them to fish alongside a group from Bristol. The Bristol anglers were catching nothing despite there being at least three shoals of fish taking in front of them. Why? Because they were using the method from the video — the chaps from Norwich assured us it was the 'right' method. Of course it was the wrong method because the anglers were slavishly copying what they had seen without understanding what was happening. Apparently they finished with about four fish between them when we would have regarded forty as a below average result if we fished according to the conditions on the day.
So now I can no longer fish my local venue. To get to the nearest two uncrowded, equivalent, venues I have to travel roughly 30 miles (one east, the other west) and make someone else's local water a little less secluded.
The irony is that to get to that venue the group from Liverpool must have bypassed several, possibly dozens, of similar venues. I know that often when I've looked in similar places I've found fish, catchable fish, sometimes a great many of them. I've found them in several places along the south coast, in the west country, Wales and in Ireland. It usually takes a couple of days, watching the tides round the clock, to find the best time and place (OK, I once found a venue by looking out of a train window but that's an exception.) and no. I'm not going to tell you where those places are. I've earned those fish.
Example number 2
A chap sold a house in Chelsea and bought a smallholding a little way along the coast. He was going to live the country idyll but hadn't bargained with the hard work involved. After a while he gave up farming and rented his fields to a neighbour. He decided he would supplement his income with a little commercial inshore fishing. He hadn't realised how much work that would be either and he certainly hadn't realised that location is vital in commercial fishing as well as angling. Well, he did finally realise it when he saw us returning with decent bass taken from the shore.
It was pure luck that on the saturday he decided to stalk us we had planned a recce. We fished a section of shore we usually bypassed in order to check whether we were missing any decent fishing. At first we ignored the boat a quarter mile offshore but it followed us around the coast and did nothing. He wasn't fishing, just watching us through binoculars as we plugged and span the inshore reefs.
The next day we went back intending to fish our usual section and saw that along the entire coast we had fished the day before were rows of orange gill-net floats. The nets were set wrongly for the tide and would have caught few fish (yes I have done a little inshore netting myself in the past) but we decided to go elsewhere.
The farmhouse and land were sold again last year in two separate lots. Be aware, the soft focus, sepia tinted, rural idyll as shown on TV misses out the hard work.
Unless stated otherwise: Everything in this site refers to fishing in the British Isles and similar northern European waters.