Updated: Jan 14
It's stupid to not research fishing conditions on the internet before a trip, or to scout new water. But it has lead to some incredibly petty opinions about who is allowed to know about certain spots.
So let's start there: You are not allowed to be territorial about favorite fishing spots, especially when they are on public land. It's not yours. Period. (P.S. If it gets called out the worst thing to do is bring more attention to it by shaming the poster for calling it out, shout out to everyone who has fed me intel that way!) And a quick reminder.... public land belongs to everyone. If it was special because only you knew about it then how did you find out in the first place?
If you figured it out yourself, you can either deal with the increased pressure, or you can find something special again. And, if someone told you about it, then it was never your secret spot, and don't be naive in thinking that no-one else knows about the place.
This leads to a broader point and my main reason for writing this post. Stop depending on fly shops to feed you information about what's fishing well and when is a good time... at least if you're tired of the crowds. Fishing pressured water can be rewarding, especially if you fool a fish when others couldn't (WIN!). But it's not fun all the time. Growing up in Colorado, I didn't realize how dependent I had become to the local fly reports. I'd browse and make decisions based on what shops told me. Remember, that is second-hand information! They themselves have their own favorite spots and fishing desires, and that can lead to them filtering the information that is passed onto the general fishing public. Sometimes they don't filter and their tips are dynamite, but other times you can feel that they aren't telling you the whole story. Instead, grab a map, and push further. Check out the creeks off of your favorite river systems. Look for lakes that hold trout and explore the greater watershed: the inlets, and the outlets. Fish can move, they don't have to sit in the same hole all year round.
Sure you'll have to work for it, but you don't have to commit as much as you think. Maybe just drive by a promising piece of intel on your way to a better-known fishing spot to scope it out. Maybe just test it out as you drive between home and an extended trip. Maybe just take a half-day to hop between some options. The fish will be less pressured in places like this and you'll know pretty quick if the water looks good or not. Also, expand your search radius; people are lazy. It doesn't just mean far away, it might mean higher in elevation, or further from an obvious road.
If you don't know where to start on new water, call back onto your prior experience. Put together an exploratory fly box that compiles all your favorite flies with some room for flies that might come in handy on many different types of water systems.
Go explore something new, stay on the cutting edge. Don't be the follower, unless you like chasing for your entire life!