Dave's Place: Wild Expectations

When you share a hotspot with a friend, don't get his hopes up too high.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Anglers are, of course, famously prone to overstatement. I'm afraid I've been guilty of this myself recently. I do have a passable excuse, though: As I'm sure all of you understand, whenever you tell a friend about one of your spots with the intention of taking him there, you're obligated to create some excitement about the place. As Mark Twain said, "The poetry is all in anticipation." And as a conscientious angler, it's your duty to provide that for your fishing partner.

Problem is, it's a tricky business. There's a very fine line between providing healthy anticipation and creating wild expectations. And while we should try to avoid the latter, it can be easier said than done.

For example, it's perfectly natural to always think of your best spots as they are at their best. So when I told my friend George about acre-size pods of 24-inch rainbows rising just off his rod tip, with an outside chance at a 30-incher, it wasn't so much an overstatement as it was a mostly accurate description of how the fishing might be if we just happened to hit it on exactly the right day in exactly the right place.

So, despite nothing but good intentions, I might have inadvertently led George into the realm of wild expectations. And now that he's all pumped up about going, I can already hear myself saying: Honestly, George. It's usually much better than this.

Luckily, I stumbled off the hook this past weekend. Over the phone, George made the mistake of telling me about one of his favorite bass fishing spots. So I cleared my calendar as quick as I could, met him, and started pressing him on the drive there.

"Honestly, George, is this place any good?"

"Well ..." He hesitated, wisely. "I don't want to get your hopes up too high."

"Oh, don't worry about that," I pressed on. "Go ahead."

He obliged. "I'm telling you, Dave, this place has got some monster smallies, and they pounce on topwater poppers."

So we spent a cool summer evening casting poppers just off the shoreline of a hidden mountain lake. When we called it quits, our grand total was one 4-inch bass. George was apologetic. "Honestly, Dave, it's usually much better than this." But to my mind, it couldn't have been a more perfect trip. Truth is, I had a fine time, and I have no doubt that his spot is every bit as good as he says it is. But, of course, the bottom line is that I can now can take him to my spot with impunity.