Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

"Protecting" the where and when (secret spots)

Imagine if the various fishing resources out there were full of fantastically detailed "location revealing", or the divulging of precisely where to find the best spots and when/how to fish them. Can you imagine a magazine like Sea Angler (which I happen to think does a great job) being full of pages and pages of infinitely detailed descriptions of the best anglers' best fishing spots ? What is the thing that most anglers want to know ? You and I both know - where are the good ("secret") spots and exactly when should you fish them ?

But we live in the real world, and for a multitude of reasons many of the best fishing spots remain closely guarded secrets among the anglers who know about them. I can think of a few places I might go fishing around where I live for example that I would be extremely surprised to see another angler outside of the people who I know happen to know the place already. In a perfect world though spots like these would not be remotely "secret" and I would be telling other anglers exactly where they are and how/when to fish them. So why do so many anglers strive to keep a number of fishing marks up their sleeves ?

For a number of different reasons don't you think ? Number one has to be the simple fact that it's great to be able to go fishing and know that you will most likely see nobody else around. You can fish certain places without having to worry about another angler fishing exactly where you want to when you want to. Some anglers for various reasons may want all the fish for themselves, but for me it's nothing to do with that. I don't feel remotely proprietary about the fish if that makes sense, but a big part of fishing to me is to be where lots of other people are not.

Many of you I am sure have been told about or even taken to various "secret" fishing spots over the years and then been asked/sworn to secrecy about them. I can't tell you how many miles I used to walk and explore when I first moved down here especially, indeed I have a vivid memory of going for a walk with my girlfriend (now wife) and "by mistake" taking a long rope, spike and a club hammer with me because my ulterior motive was to check out a potential new fishing spot way, way down some steep cliffs. Well it turned out to be a cracker of a mark, but as much as for a while I thought that I might have discovered it all by myself, over the years I found out that a few other anglers did in fact know about it as well.

I have been and continue to be privy to a lot of incredibly kind levels of help and information from a number of anglers as regards fishing spots that are often very unknown about. I take this kind of trust very seriously and as much as a part of my working life revolves around writing and photographing magazine articles, I do my utmost when required to carefully photograph certain places so that you can't tell where they are - unless that is you fish there yourself of course. People know what I do and I explain my intentions from the off, and as a result I understand perfectly if some anglers don't want anything to do with me. On my numerous hard drives here in my home office I have plenty of photographs that I really like which will never see the light of day in a magazine or book etc. because they are just that bit too "revealing" of the locations.

It's no more than a trust thing really. Various people are very kind to me and put their trust in me to do the right thing, and I in return I do all I can to repay that trust by not revealing these "secret" spots. I can remember a mullet fishing TV programme we made many years ago when a good friend took us somewhere pretty special on the proviso that we would not reveal where it was on camera. I distinctly remember having a "discussion" with the assistant director that we either did not film certain landmarks etc. or else we would have to pack up and stop filming. As regards that particular spot, I have had plenty of people come up to me telling me that they knew exactly where we were etc. and that the cat was out of the bag..............

Nobody outside of the few anglers who I know fish this spot though have got it right, to the point where one guy once said to me that he knew exactly where it was because he himself fished it regularly - only problem was that he was on about a different river system entirely, in a different county as well !! Why the secrecy ? Because I was asked to keep it quiet. My friend trusted me and I did all I could to honour that trust.

This whole secrecy thing is a double-edged sword really. I understand completely that anglers want to try and protect a lot of the places they fish (as do I), but on the flipside and very understandably, anglers want to know about decent fishing spots. What can you do ? A major reason of course is that many anglers don't want to see less scrupulous anglers killing and removing decent fish from "their" marks.

Many people I suppose are sheep and a much smaller percentage are shepherds, just as they saying goes that 5% of anglers catch 95% of the fish - and I am sure that some of you reading this have seen it happen time and time again. A good fish is caught, the location is revealed for whatever reason and a number of anglers flock to the exact spot - even though the fish has or have been caught already. The next time you try and fish it it's crawling with other anglers. It's a tough one, it really is. For all the shiny fishing tackle that is written about, for all the advice that is shared about watercraft, casting, rigs, bait collecting etc., at the end of the day anglers want to know where to fish and when, because they (you and I) want to catch more or bigger fish - but of course the exact where and when on some of the best and most out of the way spots is always going to be protected as much as possible.

And talking of "secret spots", in under a month I will be out here photographing tarpon fishing on the flats - Location X. Am I ridiculously overexcited ? I will let you work that one out.............