I hunt for spots, as much as I hunt for fish. My spots are all different, yet they all have specific components that make them productive under some set of parameters. Some are vast, open shorelines, where even if 30 guys showed up I’d probably be able to sneak in and out without being noticed. Others are extremely small, able to accommodate only a few anglers, or even less: I have two spots that I can’t even fish with my fishing partner. These places rely on a specific rock, or just the right casting lane. Without it, you might as well be fishing in a desert.
I am a hoarder of spots. I get anxious thinking about losing them. I don’t want to share them. I want them all to myself, and to hell with the rest of you. It’s not fair, it’s not logical in many cases, and the fact of the matter is it’s against the law: I do not own these places. Doesn’t change the way I feel though. I feel like I own them. I have been known to throw an awful tantrum after finding even a single angler in one of my spots; even if I hadn’t seen any for a month or more. It’s almost pathological, and if you don’t have the disease, you just can’t understand where I’m coming from.
So this is why I hid in the dunes last night; why I sprinted up and over them to throw myself flat into the grass. Shambling up the bank, gear banging and rattling on my belt, I slipped and fell towards the top. Instead of getting to my feet, I just stayed down on my hands and bear crawled the last few yards.
I had been creeping along the edges of the sandbank with my light off, careful to hide myself in the silhouette thrown by the Full Moon. I knew once I rounded the bend I could see if anyone was on the stretch I wanted to target. I slowed down and cautiously crept around the corner and out of the shadow line. Sure enough, there they were: a couple anglers in one of my favorite spots, lights on, broadcasting their position and intent to the world. I’m not sure I would have seen them without their lights; they were in a slight depression along the shoreline. An amateur move on their part; a signal to me I couldn’t trust them.
I quickly fell back into the shadows, debating my next move.
Then, as if they knew I was there trying to think, they turned, lights on all the time, and started walking towards me. Their headlamps surely had to be nuclear powered, given how bright they were. Why anyone needs a light like that for fishing, I will never understand.
But it was their downfall. It’s why I ran.
As I lay flat, panting, I prayed they wouldn’t swing those portable lighthouses into the dunes. How awkward would it be, them standing there, shinning their lights into my face as I lay peeping-Tom style looking down on them?
This triggered the 11-year old in me to start to giggle. I could picture it in my mind.
“Uh, hey there, are you spying on us?” they’d call to me, as I laid there in my wetsuit.
“Ummm…no?” I’d beg them not to ask again with my mind.
The thought, the image, made me laugh, and I had to clamp my hand over my mouth as they walked by.
And there I lay, in the dune grass, holding in my laughter, literally hands over my mouth, and blinking back tears.
A grown man, hiding from other men, so that I could catch some fish.
And yes. I did catch some fish.