Finding Secret Fishing Spots
Tired of fighting the crowds to go fishing? Here's how to find solitude and untouched trout.
It's still possible to find a trout lake you can call your own.
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As a group, anglers are a lazy bunch. (I bet that caught your attention).
They (meaning anglers other than you) choose the path of least resistance, opting to drop a line in water
closest to the road, the trail, the campground or parking lot.
Even the more industrious anglers don't walk far enough away from public access points, giving up to the
lure of the water after only 10 minutes of walking. This gives you your first few identifiers for a secret trout
If you want to get away from the crowds and find your own secret spots, all you need to do is combine a bit
of studying with a willingness to do a bit of exploring. It all begins with maps.
So get out a national forest map and a topo map, spread them on the table, and get ready to discover your
own secret trout spot.
Mapping the Water
I can't tell you how many hours I've pored over national forest maps, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
maps, and topographic maps in search of that one stretch of river that most anglers perceive is either too
high up or inaccessible.
That chore is made easier nowadays since topo maps for any section of the United States are now on CD-
When you see a blue line (a river) flowing through a tight group of brown lines, the river is moving through
a canyon. Study closely. Do the lines open up along the way? Do the brown lines go from a straight pattern
to a wavy pattern, leaving a greater distance between the contour lines?
If so, this could mean the river slows up enough to have some good holding water. Oftentimes, even if the
meadow is smallish, the beavers can build some amazing dams.
Blue lines can be running through V-shape brown contour lines, and if the lines are fairly close, be assured
the water is running swiftly down the mountain. So look for where the V's widen out a bit, where the
contour lines are a bit farther apart. That can mean a flatter section.
Looking for Lost Lakes
Many lakes are off the trail, with no established trail leading to them. Look hard at the topo map (or CD-
ROM). Often, glacially formed lakes will be in groupings of several lakes. Often, a hike-in of only 15 or 20
minutes will put you on water that hasn't seen an angler all season. We have found a couple of great spots
near Silver Star, which was the first incorporated town in the state of Montana and a 10 minute drive from
the Fish Creek House.
And many of them will be stocked every so many years. A tiny alpine tarn can hold some nice fish,
especially if the lake is lightly fished. Most anglers would rather toil away at the big-name, bigger lake than
hike a few hundred yards or one mile to a lesser-fished lake.
Even fast-flowing streams have sections that hit level ground where the river slows and widens. Fast-
flowing streams can be slowed by beaver ponds. Beaver ponds can hold big fish even if the impounded
stream is tiny. Even if a tiny stream rushes down the mountain, if the beavers have made their homes, the
water is deep and fast enough to hold some nice fish.
Here at the Fish Creek House, you can find a lake right here on the property since Fish Creek flows thru