Walk a well-fished stretch of river and the popular swims are soon evident. Bare, muddy banks along with a noticeable lack of marginal vegetation. It is rare that the water itself will not hold a clue or two, while the proximity of the car park is also a factor, but generally, anglers are happier retreading their own paths, or those of others, than pioneer for themselves.
It is understandable. Time is short and for many of us fishing opportunities are limited by work, money and family. Seeking out new swims is a risky business – there are potential rewards, but more often than not we return home fishless and wishing we’d stuck to what we know.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as finding your own piece of heaven though. Deep in that overgrown corner where no-one else can cast to. The fish will be less flighty in such a spot, and providing your footsteps are silent and leave little in the way of disturbance, other anglers will continue to walk past completely unaware.
A friend of Fishpool once knew a secret swim on the Kennet. He caught barbel, chub, carp, perch and tench from that spot and nobody else ever fished it. In time, it vanished to the ever changing river, and though he was disappointed he also felt it rather apt that the secret swim should simply disappear…