The proverbial Honey Hole will give every fisher person goose bumps at the mere thought of finding and fishing one. In this mental treat I will discuss the what, when, where, why, and how of finding your own Honey Holes. So what are you waiting for? Get busy and enjoy!
(All pictures in the article are taken at some of my favorite Honey Holes)
The moniker “Fisherman’s Honey Hole” brings a knowing smile to any fishermen who has one. They are considered by anglers to be worth their weight in gold. We all have them and in most cases different spots for different seasons and species. They bring the ultimate joy to any angler making us look like rockstars when we find them. They can be family heirlooms in some cases handed down from generation to generation. And they are protected just as fiercely as family recipes.
For those who may not understand or have yet to find one lets discuss what a “Honey Hole” is. Do be good lads and lasses here keeping your minds out of the gutter. In its simplest terms it is a place where you catch fish consistently in high numbers or at least big fish or combination there of. Ideally it is a spot that only you know about and no one else fishes. The last part can be particularly hard to find. And being in a remote location I.E. non-civilized terrain is not necessarily going to be the case. My two best all time bass locations are in the middle of very large neighborhoods. Both produce high numbers with consistent catches of fish 5-8 lbs almost every trip. In both cases there are no public launches and no motors allowed. One is in a gated community where a good friend of mine lives. My favorite redfish hole a mosquito impoundment is not about numbers as the most I have ever pulled out of it is six in a very long day. The key to this place is the challenge involved. Super tough to get into, riddled with downed timber with an average depth of ten inches or less and OMG beautiful scenery. Only a kayak can navigate in there and it is all sight fish stalking. LOVE IT.
So how do you find these golden jewels if they aren’t passed down in a last will and testament? There is simply no easy way around this, time on the water is number one. Sometimes blind luck plays into it, but that is damn rare. Next would be research, I can’t stress this enough. Watch the best shows, read the magazines, online blogs, everything you can until you think like the prey you seek. You have to know your target species inside and out. What is it that makes them do what they do and where they do it best. When I look at any body of water I am saying to myself, “If I were the fish why would I be there?”
Kayaks give us a very unique ability to go places no other boat can get to. Those same spots most likely hold fish that have never seen a lure, or at a minimum extremely low fishing pressure. My three biggest tools in finding new honey holes are Google Maps/Earth, YouTube, and Face Book. Google Maps/Earth is fairly self evident as to finding likely spots. It does take a practiced eye to find the best contenders. One of the ways to train yourself for this is to look at the current places you consider to be a honey hole. Then try to find similar places that look like the same type of water I.E. shore structure, how dark the water is is usually an indicator of depth or underwater vegetation etc. Then start looking for a launch point for access. Ideally a public right of way will keep you out of trouble for launching. In the cases of neighborhood lakes try to make sure it is not a gated community before you get all geared up to go. A lot of honey holes are hiding in plain sight just because people ignore them thinking there can’t be any fish in there. This is especially true for Bullseye snakeheads in south Florida. I have literally fished in drainage ditches only a few feet wide with as little 6 inches of water in them and caught 36” snakeheads. While the location may not be pretty the fishing can be phenomenal.
I do scouting trips for places like this. I look for several spots to check then spend a few hours or more checking them out. There are four things I look for while scouting these spots, water quality, current, bait, and birds. Water quality is always critical and will determine if the bait and birds will be there. In fresh water the more variety of aquatic vegetation there is the better it will keep the water clean and filtered. Good current around structure in fresh or salt will always produce fish. If you immediately find minnows on all the shore line (freshwater) then you’re going to find predators. Birds come and go but if they have good feeding they won’t go far or be gone long. The more birds and variety of birds the better the fishing will be. If you manage to put all four together you can pretty much guarantee successful fishing.
Now I will do some pretty extreme stuff to get into places that most people wouldn’t dream of with my Wilderness Systems Kayaks. I have laid flat on my kayak to slip through drainage pipes with spiders and wasp nest inches over my head. Portage over 800 yards of sugar sand and brush to get to a rim canal loaded with monster snakeheads. Launch the kayaks to cross a canal then drag them up a 60 degree incline for 30 ft, followed by a 200 yard portage to the next canal with a shear 6 foot drop to launch from. I have to leave a small danforth anchor at the top of the bank with a drop rope so you can get back out on the return trip. It can be pretty daunting if you are not in good physical condition. To me the lure of untouched water is worth every drop of sweat. So if you’er up for these types of scenarios then it opens up a lot more options and potentials.
You may be asking why YouTube and Face Book? People love to video and photograph there exploits to share with the world. Fishermen in particular are guilty of this especially when it comes to epic catches. We are very proud of our accomplishments. But when it comes to Honey Holes this can be your undoing. I have found spots over and over again from the videos and photos posted. It requires extreme patients to do as I have spent literally weeks pouring over Google Maps to find them but it can be done. Savvy anglers have started blurring out the backgrounds to foil this process. Pictures shot with cell phones have metadata stored and if the location features have not been turned off you can get the exact GPS coordinates off of them. I spent three hours last week figuring out where a particular dock was that two guy’s videotaped repeatedly slamming big snook off of. And I am sorry but if you’re going to post this information I am going to use it. So words to the wise keep video’s short and try to avoid low angle shots that show a lot of background. Stay away from pictures that show any landmarks in them. And don’t say “We are fishing in Ocala Fl today” thinking that was vague enough to not give away your location. For someone like me if you are anywhere near there and show enough background I can find you. If the body of water is named use a letter or number instead to describe it. My favorite lake is lake “X” as I call it. When I do fishing reports on it that is the title I give it. I will go into great detail on how I caught the fish and the current conditions so someone can apply the techniques but that is it.
On that subject the best way to keep it as “your” spot is to not tell anyone. As with lake “X” I only shared that spot with my closest fishing partners that I know I can trust. Even then think twice about it. I learned this lesson the hard way. After spending almost two weeks deciphering a video to locate a new snakehead spot that held world record contenders in it I took someone I thought I could trust. Not naming names but not only did he share the information but he did it on a public blog. That honey hole is dead now from over fishing. I will take someone from out of town (way out of town) to places like this as I know they wont be back to beat it up.
One of the most important keys to keeping a honey hole a honey hole, is don’t over fish it. Having a bunch of honey holes in the rotation is the best way to avoid the temptation to fish the same spot over and over again. I typically only fish a hot spot once every few months or longer. It’s like having a cheat day on a diet and you know it is going to be so good. Another way to try to circumvent giving up a spot is to leave when someone else shows up. This is especially true on open water structure. Try not to anchor on places like this unless it is absolutely necessary. An anchored boat with rods out is a dead give away. Staying and catching fish after fish in front of a stranger is a sure way to lose your spot for good. Doesn’t mean they won’t figure it out but they may not know what they are doing or be using the wrong bait. No point in showing them if you don’t need to. If you see someone pounding on fish don’t pull up and try to horn in on it. Plug the numbers in and keep going. Come back at another time and check it out. Now there is a potential flip side to this situation and one I have employed to great success. Go introduce yourself and see what they are about. I find this works very well on the extremely remote locations because they didn’t land there by accident and probably put in the same effort I did. This has lead to some great friends with insights and other locations shared.
In closing, be the busy bee and get your Honey Do list done for the Queen Bee. Then you can be about the business of being the bee at your own Honey Hole where dreams come true.
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