Keeping Secrets...

Tom Scholey ponders why some match anglers are so secretive.
I’m sure we have all heard the often wildly inflated stories before about anglers who are cleaning up at their local water on a new fangled ‘secret’ rig or ‘secret’ bait. And we all probably know somebody who is reluctant to tell you what or how they fish, or about certain aspects of it. Without a doubt, some anglers revel in secrecy, and like to think that they have their own special edges that sneak them a few extra fish here and there.

Personally, I have never bought in to the idea of keeping secrets. Without breaking the confidences of anglers who have asked me to keep things  ‘hush, hush’ I always try to tell everybody everything.

On the simplest level, if I was to make a habit of holding things back, or misleading people, it would do my credibility as an angling journalist no good whatsoever. Afterall, people who pick up a magazine to read one of my features, or log on to the website to read one of my stories expect to be told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And quite rightly so.

By and large, the anglers that I shoot features with respect this – and if you ask the right questions, you can find out exactly what your subject is doing, and why they are doing it.

Even in my own fishing, I will not entertain the idea of keeping secrets, nor will I invest too much attention in trying to find out what other people's ‘secrets’ are. The best anglers prove time and again that there really is nothing complicated about fishing. If you can work out the right feeding pattern, method and bait on a given day, and catch fish more efficiently than those around you, then you will perform better than your opposition. Whether you go on to win or not, will depend on how well you have drawn.

As an improving angler, I believe my time is best spent experimenting with the above variables, and finding out what works for me. Speaking to other anglers is undoubtedly one of the best ways to learn, and generally if you are open and honest with other anglers, then they will extend you the same courtesy. But if you find yourself asking an angler questions that it is clear they don’t want to give you the answer to, I advise you to stop – it simply isn’t worth the agro. You soon work out who your friends are.

It is no coincidence that the most open anglers are invariably the most successful. They concentrate on their fishing, rather than trying to keep their precious secrets hidden from prying eyes. They also have lots of friends, with whom they can talk tactics, and bounce ideas around. More secretive anglers don’t tend to enjoy the same privilege, as people are quite rightly reluctant to share information if they don’t feel they are getting the same back in return.

The more I see of secretive anglers, the more I become convinced that it is a dangerous and destructive outlook. It breeds a kind of arrogance, as said anglers are so convinced that their secret way is the right one, that they close their mind to other ways of doing things. They concentrate so hard on keeping their precious secrets, that they lose their focus on the things that matter. And then there is the paranoia, that makes them believe that other people are as obsessed with holding things back as they are. All of the above creates bad karma, takes the focus and enjoyment away from what we all actually go fishing to do – and that is catch fish.