Every dedicated angler has a few secret fishing spots. I definitely have mine. These are the places you won’t find on blogs or forums. Nobody at your local fishing shop is going to point them out on a map. And there’s usually a good story about how the secret was revealed.
Last year I spent hours and miles searching for public access to a small river that supposedly hides big trout. The river is guarded by private property and steep canyons.
After another failed attempt to find access, I spotted a man walking towards me along the opposite side of the road as I packed up my gear. He had a bounce in his step and a smile on his face. I flagged him down and he introduced himself as Adam.
We spent the next 30 minutes comparing fishing notes. Adam would later tell me about a family who owns 40 acres along the river I was after. The property is along a lazy stretch of water with deep pools, he said. By the end of that roadside chat, Adam revealed that, in fact, he owned the 40 acres. I passed his test. Thanks to Adam, I can tell you that the rumors about big fish on that river are true.
But as the temperatures drop and the rivers close for the season, I usually settle in for a winter of kayak fishing for salmon and sea-run cutthroat trout.
During the winter months on Puget Sound, wind howls and weather conditions can be dramatically different just a handful of miles away. Big tidal swings lead to day-long battles with shifting currents. Cold rains can make for long days without a single bite.
Winter fishing is tough. The right rod, line, and reel for the environment, comfortable waders, and layers are all important pieces of gear. But a versatile and durable inflatable fishing kayak means I can cover more water and carry more gear for the day.
Aquaglide’s Blackfoot Angler 130 is one of the best tools I have in my fishing kit. It’s incredibly stable and has plenty of room for coolers and extra gear. Universal mounts for rod holders, fish finders, and anchors are everywhere I want them to be.
The metal framed seat is comfortable all day long and provides plenty of lift to cast while sitting. The drop-stitch floor is so rigid that I can easily go from a sitting position to casting while standing.
Having an inflatable fishing kayak is great for transport and storage, but I also love that I can keep it on standby without the hassle of hauling a trailer. It’s quick to set up when I need it and packs down small enough to store in my trunk when I don’t.
Recently I spotted a small Puget Sound bay on a map. At first glance, it looks like a lot of the inlets and coves along the shores in northwestern Washington. But after researching the freshwater that dumps into this particular bay, I thought I might have a shot at finding sea-run cutthroat trout.
I called a few of my local fly shops for advice about the bay. I was surprised when I didn’t get much from the guides I talked to. Puget Sound has a lot of water to explore and sometimes taking a drive is the best way to research a new location. I grabbed my gear and the Blackfoot and headed out.
I had the entire place to myself, or so I thought. Sunlight glimmered across the water and mountains burst from the horizon. The tide was outgoing and the mud was thick. Fishing from the beach was not an option. I inflated the Blackfoot and spent the afternoon negotiating with trout to take my fly.
A fish and wildlife officer arrived as I pulled the Blackfoot onto shore at the end of the day. He explained that he had seen the kayak on the water and wanted to know what I was fishing for. As he checked my license, I asked if he knew of any spots that are off the beaten path. He told me about a few of the popular spots in the area that I already knew about. I eventually gave up trying to pry his secret spots loose and thanked him for the info.
Not long after the officer was out of sight, a muscle car with fading and chipped cream colored paint stopped to admire the Blackfoot as I was packing up. The driver said he lived close by and was in the market for an inflatable fishing kayak. We talked about the various fishing gear I had stashed throughout the Blackfoot. He was particularly interested in the types of drinks I kept in my cooler.
I asked him if my hunch about finding cutthroat in the Bay was right. I wanted to know why I had this beautiful spot all to myself. He smiled and told me that I could be right about the trout. He said that maybe I was the only person fishing because it’s just not a good place to catch fish. Or, he continued, maybe I found a really special spot that’s hidden in plain sight and I would be wise to keep it quiet. Not as warm and fuzzy as Adam, but I got the message loud and clear.
I didn’t catch any trout in the Bay. But I think I will. What I did get was a boot full of mud, an afternoon paddle in the shadows of mountains, and a new story about a secret hidden in plain sight.
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