Nothing is better, in the fishing world, than a secret fishing spot you can call your own. Unless you can find one that actually has some fish in it.

Secret places can be anywhere as long as they’re secret. They say nothing is more fleeting than a military secret. Well, I’m here to tell ya, Pilgrim: The military has nothing on the angling crowd in this neck of the woods.

If a bobber goes down somewhere within 50 miles of here, somebody’s head pops out of the woods.

Actually, I was going to write about brown trout, but  I just finished two plates of pork sirloin with green beans in ginger sauce and I’m now too fattened and lazy to retrieve the backup harddrive with the proper photos. So you’re stuck with smallmouths, again.

See how decisions are made at this level?

The world overran one great bass-fishing spot after another around here over the past 20 years. It’s ok. I have spots in reserve, far from the maddening crowd. That’s why Minnesota, with its 13,000 lakes, is a fairly logical life choice for an outdoor writer.

We can always find a 4-pound smallmouth around here, if we really need one. And I really needed one. Another bastion overrun, I retreated into the woods. With my small boat backed into the water on a primitive access, I could see bottom clearly, three feet below the prop. Nobody around to hurry me, I removed the metal-flake grub on my green, 1/16-ounce jig and replaced it with a green pumpkin Trigger X Grub. Later I ran out of those and went with a green-pumpkin Lunker City Hydro-Tail Grub, which seemed to work equally well (especially if I doused the Hydro Tail with Kick’n Bass or Dr. Juice crawdad scent). So the fishing was pretty good, measured by bags of plastics destroyed.

A 1/16-ounce jig-grub combo. Somewhere, somebody scratches their head. With good reason. Fall is time for 10- to 14-pound lines, football heads, and big craws or spider grubs. Can I get an amen? Heavy bites on heavy lines and they’re comin’ to the boat. Dig it.

Dug it ten years ago. I zig when everybody zags. I’ve been throwing lighter jigs on 4-pound braid, getting down just as quick but fishing slower, lighter, the drops less precipitous, the movements less threatening, the speed just right, and when you find that secret place you know it because they’re biting on every cast.

They only bite on every cast when nobody else has been there with the right program for some significant amount of time. (I guess a secret spot can be a lot less than secret and still be productive in some social settings.)

I live for those bites so I listen carefully to what the fish are telling me when I find them. In clear water, no matter how secret the spot, subtle colors shine and always have.

But I couldn’t get bit at all yesterday until I rediscovered a simple fact about smallmouths in clear water. Stay tuned.










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