Spot burning

For those of you who don’t know my history, I started fly fishing over 20 years ago. I had a hard time finding any information on fly fishing. There wasn’t a fly shop that welcomed me as a new fly fisherman and the internet had just started to take off. So I created a website called I was basically blogging and not knowing it. I would go fish somewhere and then post my location, the water flow, weather and flies that worked. After a year or so I renamed the site and created a forum. I wanted a place where new fly fishermen and experienced fishermen alike could come together and share information. I created maps of each river with pools and access points along with flies that work. It didn’t take long to learn that wasn’t the best decision so I ended up removing the maps.  After 20ish years and many changes, Maine Fly Fish is still going strong with over 6000 members.

Monkey Pond

The never-ending battle for information has led to many discussions in the forum and many controversies. A couple years ago there was a book published about the best places to fish in Maine. I was asked to be a part of that but declined. In doing so I was looked down upon by several guides in my area and even had one want to fight me because of it. I personally felt this book was a form of spot burning and wanted no part of it.  There needs to be a balance between information given and information kept quiet. There are certain things that people need to find out for themselves. Something they earn by putting their time in. Which is part of the adventure, if you ask me. Some places need to be protected and not put in books, magazines or the world wide web!

Monkey River

So how do we balance what is put out there and prevent spot burning? Who has the right to determine what should be kept a secret? I believe we as group need to protect our wild places. Most, like me, want to preserve our natural resources with the idea that they will be there long after we’re gone. But it is hard when everywhere you turn people are posting their locations on Facebook, writing books to make themselves famous, publishing in magazines and new papers and now there are even apps to list locations. I myself am guilty of this in the past. It was the lack of knowledge and the desire to help others that led me to do so. I wanted to share everything about my experience in order to help others in the sport without realizing what I was actually doing. I’ve since learned to be a little more vague in my reports and articles. Instead of stating what pool or boat ramp, I stick to what body of water it is. I try to take my photos with no real distinguishing features in the background as well as waiting a week or even a month before posting the pics to protect my location. Myself along with my clients enjoy fishing alone. There’s nothing worse than hoping into your favorite spot, your best kept secret location to find someone already there. 


Another trick I taught my kids and friend early on, every location I fish is Monkey Pond, Monkey River or Monkey Lake. A funny story… when the boys were little we would do small shows and tie flies. I had pictures of them with big fish, someone was asking them where they caught each fish and they would say Monkey. When he got to Jax with a 32” striper and they said Monkey pond, he knew he had been had! 

Monkey pond

I still want to help people and will continue do that on different platforms but I also want to protect locations and even flies I use. We all need an edge, that secret location or favorite spot. So maybe the next time you catch a huge fish and want to share it with the world, maybe you will hide that location or just simply call it Monkey Pond!

Monkey River