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Dedicated Fisherman
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Mike's thread about Social Media and its affect on fisheries brought this old story to mind. I don't do many long posts these days but thought this worthy of a reprint here.


You folks who read the threads and have done so for years might think that every now and then I write something worth while. Sometimes I think I write things that are worth while too :)

A fellow put up a post where he told of catching some really nice trout in a small river where he generally finds only small trout. He named the river and I posted to his thread telling him that although it sounded like a great day he should be wary of divuldging his sources for good fishing. We posted back and forth and then I told him something from my fishing past. The place is one that I still don't really name and I use generalizations when I speak of it but the short story will reveal what happened over 40 years ago.

I once had a creek that had been overlooked by society at large. Even the old men from out in the Valley said all it had were 'little bitty brookies'. The facts were different, I began spending as much time as I could up there in those mountain streams by 1968. I was just a young boy then but I knew a good thing when I saw it and the 'Water Company' was as close to Montana or Alaska as I was going to get for the next 20 years...........

Back in the late 1800's there had been a farm up in the pass owned by a Remington, yes one of those Remington's. Well old Mr. Remington had a small dam to supply water to his livestock and he also got himself some Vom Burr brown trout fry via the railroad and apparently they survived. He had raised trout in in to slough his little dam created and of course some got away during high waters. I had to assume that he must have introduced them purposely to the streams also. I have no idea the other facts about this man or how the land eventually changed hands but it did. During the Great Depression and the days of the CCC Corps there became 'The Municipal Water Authority' and the authority took over a lot of land either by buying it or by imminent domain, I'm not sure of all the details because the history was told to me by a man who was in his 80's and that exchange took place in the 1970's.

My Family owned a significant bit of land which bordered the Water Company as it was known to me and there were Grand Parents as well as 3 sets of Uncles & Aunts living right there in a cluster at the end of the Valley Road. My family home was some 7 miles away but I was drawn to this place because much of this land had once belonged to my Father who sold it after he had returned from WWII. He chose to start his family and have his home away from the flock but he always regretted having parted with his land which was purchased by his parents. By the time I turned 13 years old my Father had succumbed to Hodgkin's Dieses and passed away but he had introduced me to that area where the mountains met the Valley floor and it only got to be a stronger draw after he had died.

I fished the Remington Creek and the 'Main Creek' that it flowed into for the years between 1967 & 1977 almost exclusively and never said much about it to anyone. The 72' season was pretty much lost due to Hurricane Agness which dumped over 14" of rain onto the North East and caused flooding that records were broken and remained that way until just a few years back. The fall fishing demonstrated however that those fish had somehow hung on. How they did that I'd never know, somehow sticking tenaciously to the bottom or tucked into an undercut but there they were just like always. Truth is that I didn't fish the Pass much in 1972. 73' brought a fresh start to my fishing and there were no natural disasters to interrupt my trekking all over the Valley and I discovered many new rivulets and pools as I hiked farther into this virtually unused area. It was that year in June that I caught some giant brown trout as well as a male Brook Trout that defied anything I thought possible at that time. Prior to this day I had never caught a Wild Brown Trout anywhere and never a brown up in those mountain streams. Honestly I didn't really know what they were. I was just a kid who rode a used bicycle to his Grand mother's house and parked on the car port before daylight and walked away until dark, I had very little experience with anything but those streams in the Valley. Yes, I killed 3 fish that day. I had to. Who would ever believe me if I didn't, no camera, no way to show anyone that fish unless I took it with so dead the became. When I went to pick up my bicycle I knew I should ask my Granny for some sort of large plastic bag because these fish were way beyond the size my little shoulder bag creel would hold. I always would stop to say hello and let her know I had came out safe again but this time I had to show her those fish. It was the first time I had ever shown her any fish. Granny Stetts was proud of me for having caught such large fish and she meant no harm when she spilled the beans to Uncles Bob, Dick, and Cleatus. Of course those uncles told their friends and children who would tell every friend they had about the rumor of giant fish coming out of the Pass. So it was to be that the chain reaction which would be yesteryears equivalent of Facebook, Instagram, and an online fishing forum had begun and I didn't even know it.

Me, I still have they trophy I was awarded for catching the biggest brown trout of 1973 and I kept fishing my 'secret spot'. I had the presence of mind when the fish was weighed and measured for certification to tell them it had come from a creek some 20 miles away. I did that partly because I knew that people would go looking for more like that and because I had been fishing on Water Authority lands. I never considered that I had lied. I did what I still do to this day, I embellished the facts regarding the location a little. I had no way of knowing that Granny had shared the tale of my good fortune with my uncles who in turn had spread the word like a wildfire.

Each year I began to see signs that others had been out there. The foot print, the cellophane wrapper from a cigarette pack, the occasional butt. One day while just sitting back in the woods away from the stream I spotted 2 people coming up the creek. One with bait one with a fly rod headed right into the pool I had just fished. I had caught only one small brookie and was curious why I had no better result in a spot I would generally catch a dozen fish of all sizes. But here came the answer to my minds curiosity and guess what? it was Cleatus and some man I didn't know. Sadly by 1977 things were changing in my little private world and that change would be final. The area was full of the signs of fishermen. Empty bait containers, Eagle Claw Hook packs & discarded bottles of Mike's Oil Pac Salmon Eggs, and of course Power Bait bottles littered the ground as you walked the stream. By the 80's there was a trail that was evident along the Main Creek. It seemed that camping there was in vogue and there had to be 20 fire rings along the stream and each was left full of tin cans and other garbage.

Round about 1985 or so a fellow who was hired by the company I worked for one day told me about this place his buddy had told him about...... Weird thing was Louie lived about 40 miles from the valley. You could meet people from the city and it's suburbs 30 miles away and find them talking out loud about the place when you went to a sporting goods store, it was over. Remember mind you, this was 20 years before you ever heard of the Internet.

The mountains are still there, the streams still flow. I'm over 5000 miles away and in the years since those days on Remington's Creek I've fished from remote Newfoundland to my home here in Alaska. I've fished the Rocky Mountain rivers and creeks a lot for a guy who didn't live there and one thing stands out in my mind when I look back over the past 42 years since I caught those big fish. I have never fished in a better place for either the numbers or the size of wild Brook Trout in all my life and considering where I fish every season now, that's saying something. The events of my days on the creeks of The Valley remain bright and clear as though they were just last season but the fish and the wildness are gone forever.

That my friend is why I don't tell where I fish ever again. It's true that I'll mention the Kenai River sometimes but if you ever saw the number of boats and people fishing it you would know that the fate of that fishery doesn't rest on whether the name slipping from my lips happens or not.

This is all that remains of my stream in The Pass



Silence is golden,

Ard​
 

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Hey Ard, hope you and Nancy are keeping well. Great read as usual and how true. Best regards.
 

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Great story Ard. My family has a secret meadow that we hike in to with big brookies. There isn't a trail and you have to bushwhack. Last summer, my 84 year old dad and I made the trek. Before we cleared the timber, we spotted a herd of elk; a big bull, 7 cow elk, and a young one. They knew we were there but didn't move because they couldn't see us. We watched each other for a while. You have to marry in to the family to learn the details of how to find it. Our daughter got married last summer and she mentioned to me that she wants to hike in to remember how to get to it and bring her new husband. Good girl!

Mark
 

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Silence is golden

Right you are Ard.
Thanks for your story. I too am unapologetic about being tight lipped when it comes to fishing locations.
Social media has become a cheap venue for self promotion which is not at all what fly angling is about.
I have a nice bundle of secret spots which I keep to myself and closest and most trusted angling pals. Not that these spots are known only to me, but others have enough respect to keep them secret too.
www. Means World Wide Web... Think about that before posting and cherish the experience yourself rather than advertising it to the globe.

I had a great day on the river yesterday, posting where, when and photos won't make the day any better for me.
Ok... Rant is over.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm always glad to hear that my ramblings don't bore you guys. I read in a reply on Mikes thread where the poster said that some are old enough to remember when very few practiced C&R and that is how we learned to be secretive. Very true, the people who found their way into the Pass killed their fish and some were pretty sloppy about the way they left things.

I don't consider a forum like this to be social media. Yes, it's on the www but this group is the most conscientious I have ever come across. The members post very few pictures of fish and when they do the fish are handled correctly. Like everyone and everything in life I had to learn things. I'm still at it...........


Hey Ard! Is that an old folder camera in the photo? Maybe a Bessa? I still shoot with one. Rob
Hi Rob,

My Dad's old Kodak, I still run a roll of B&W through it now and then. It has the German lens but I forget the maker without looking.
 

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Thanks Ard for the post, great read. I agree, I have a quiet place myself and I am pretty tight lipped about it, but in this day and age, quiet places don't stay quiet forever and with each season I see more folks on "my" quiet haven.

I do post fish pics here now and again, have a blog, and have even been more active on Facebook as of late as I've realized how many fishing friends are also on there.

Whether here or on social media, posting responsibly is the key. I dearly appreciate the good will and generous sharing and camaraderie on this site and I also enjoy the interactions on Facebook and being able to have a blog where I can chronicle my crazy fishing life. I will generally only share info on well known/well used locales and when I do post a fish story, I try to keep myself in check as to whether my purpose is to share in a special event in the life of a fisherman or boost my ego. I do know that I enjoy fishing stories shared by others as much or more than my own.

Blessings,
Todd
 

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Ard that would probably be a Schneider or a Zeiss lens. Great lenses by even todays standards. Rob
I'm always glad to hear that my ramblings don't bore you guys. I read in a reply on Mikes thread where the poster said that some are old enough to remember when very few practiced C&R and that is how we learned to be secretive. Very true, the people who found their way into the Pass killed their fish and some were pretty sloppy about the way they left things.

I don't consider a forum like this to be social media. Yes, it's on the www but this group is the most conscientious I have ever come across. The members post very few pictures of fish and when they do the fish are handled correctly. Like everyone and everything in life I had to learn things. I'm still at it...........




Hi Rob,

My Dad's old Kodak, I still run a roll of B&W through it now and then. It has the German lens but I forget the maker without looking.
 

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One of these days Ard, you'll have to scribble all your ramblings down, and publish it. You mentioned it before when we fished the Rogue last year - now it's time to do something about it!!

Good God man, we, the great unwashed, cry for it!!
 
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Most of my early fishing experiences were in Maine, fishing for brookies in streams so narrow most could easily be jumped. I thought I had learned early from my father, uncles, and cousins (many, native Mainers) the Maine tradition of a tight lip when it comes to sharing secret spots. Later in life, my wife and I fished with a guide in Maine one day, and had exceptional fishing. When we got back to the shop, the owner asked our guide what kind of day he'd had. His reply, "Oh, so-so". Could have been code for "a great day", but I doubt it.

Loose lips sinks ships, and destroy secret spots.

Jim
 

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Good story, Ard.

Reminds me of a hike-in place I took my daughters a few times. I haven't been back there in almost 30 years. Perhaps a better ending here than your story.

It was by Mary's inlet.........
 

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Ard your a class act my friend

I could not agree more. I have a guy a bit of a hard time a couple years ago on another forum. He posted several pics with gps coordinates. Even thought this fella is as in a completely different area then me and I had no intention of hitting those spots, I still think the guy should have been stoned for it...
 

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Ard I love your posts .. I am still young and new to this steelhead chasing I finally had pictures to post and I loved sharing them with the group, fish were handled well. and I must say I also have a hard time with telling where I was fishing people will get there in there own time I know... but I don't want to help it along any quicker if I can avoid it.. some places were just meant to be protected and cherished for what and where they are. I truly hope we all can say we still have our secret places for as long as it can be helped. again i love your posts always causes me to think.. always look forward to them.
 

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Here is a parallel story that you guys might find interesting....certainly pertinent.

About 7 or 8 years ago on a waterfowl hunting forum a guy was posting numerous times per fall about the success he was having. I happened to meet him at a meeting with the F&G that first fall and after that meeting I was talking to him and asked him if he would at least tone back his reports. Told him that there are a lot of guys out there internet scouting and that his posts were going to hurt our hunting opportunities. It was a cordial conversation but in the end his response was that he was hunting private property that he had sole permission on and his family and friends enjoyed seeing his posts and pictures from his hunts (hey dude have you heard of email!). For the next 4 or 5 years he continued to post hunt reports and photos in all his glory. And every fall I would send him PMs almost begging him to stop. Two years ago I was out scouting a field I have permission to hunt. Was watching some birds work the field when here comes a truck from a bordering state. They had the usual waterfowl stickers on the back window so I knew they were likely scouting. They pulled up and we had a nice chat. I told them who owned the field I was watching and that the landowner only allowed two groups of guys permission and I would appreciate it if they didn't go ask. They would be told no and it would just bother the landowner. They actually understood and seemed like good guys. Since I was interested in ducks and they wanted more geese I told them of several fields I had seen geese in that morning. I then asked them how they decided to come up to that area in the first place.

Then get this. They stated that they had followed a guy on an internet hunting site and mentioned the guy in my story by his screen name. They knew from his posts over the last number of years that he had moved to town XYZ and was having a lot of success within 5 miles of his home. Pretty easy to figure out where to go looking. So I asked them what their screen names were on that forum. "Oh we don't post we just read all the reports to see if we can pick up any intel." I saw those guys several more times that fall but thankfully haven't seen them back the last two seasons.

Oh and the guy who kept posting because he had sole private access and wasn't worried? I got a message from him at the start of the 2013 season. He went to the farm to secure permission again and was told NO! The farmer was tired of so many guys stopping. as polite as they were, and asking him permission. So he just decided to post his property to No Hunting Don't Even Ask and not allow anybody at all.

It is human nature to like to share (brag) our successes but be careful is all I can say.
 

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Anyone who started fishing before they could drive has a story or two like this. I learned the hard way twice. Still holding a couple cards for the future though.
 

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Ard,

Thanks for the post and how true it is. I beleive alot of us on this forum have a special place like that and unfortunatley now is gone due to being "found". I to find myself not supporting magazines and film tours due to all the hype and possible secrets they give away. I practice the no tell um principle, half the fun is getting out there and finding new places. Thanks again.
 

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It's been so long since I've posted that threads like this and all the wonderful replies have went without my saying thank you to everyone who posted to it.

Thanks everyone, the fellowship here is what captured me in the first place and I see it lives on.

Ard
 
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