honey hole: A hole, spot, or area containing big fish or lots of catchable fish. Usually requiring an oath of sworn secrecy before your buddy will take you to it.
Like most fisherman, I have my honey holes. Mine generally conform to the definition. They either give up lots of catchable fish or some big fish. Rare is the gem that does both.
I usually share these gems only with my closest buddies. Guys I have known, and fished with, for years. Guys who, though they may cheat at cards, would never, ever divulge the location of someone else’s honey hole.
All this changed when I recently fished with a young man named Demetrios Tsaptsinos. I was so impressed with Demetrios that I not only took him to one of my favorite locations and showed him how to fish it, I named the place after him.
It was Demetrios’s first time fishing and I was excited for him. I was also a little apprehensive. There can be a lot of pressure on you when you take someone, especially a kid, on their first fishing trip. What if we get skunked, or worse yet, don’t get any bites? A fishless day could ruin both Demetrios’s enthusiasm and my reputation.
If Demetrios was worried about any of this, he didn’t show it. As we were loading the coolers on the boat, he said: “You have a nice house and yard, Mr. Mark.”
I asked myself: why would an eight-year old boy say such a thing, unless he was prompted by his parents? I got my answer right away. Demetrios wasn’t complimenting me because he was told to, he just wanted to be polite. I could tell by the surprise in his dad’s voice when he said: “Wow, Meetch, that was very nice.”
Demetrios was more than just polite. Throughout our day together, he demonstrated a number of qualities you have to like in a boy his age. He was decisive, knowledgeable about fishing, patient and had a great sense of humor.
As we drove to our destination, I gave him and his dad some background.
“There’s good news and bad news about the lake we will be fishing. The good news is that there are big fish in the lake. The bad news is they are sometimes hard to find and catch, especially this time of year. We shouldn’t have any trouble finding smaller fish, and there are lots of them. But they are often in different areas than the big ones. So, it’s better if we have a plan.”
Demetrios did not hesitate. “Why don’t we fish for smaller fish first and after we catch a bunch, try for a big one.”
My kind of guy. I decided to take him to one of the spots where I have been able to catch both lots of fish and some very big ones, but I didn’t tell him that. As we approached the honey hole, all I said was: “Let’s try here first.”
I set up Demetrios’s rod, baited his line and helped him make his first cast. As I turned around to see how his dad was doing in the back of the boat, Demetrios said: “Got one.”
And he did; a nice bluegill. His first ever fish, on his first ever cast.
He caught so many in the next hour or so that, shame on me, I lost count. When asked about it later, he told his dad: “One bass, and, like 20 bluegills. It was awesome.”
Eventually, the bite slowed down a little, and I explained to Demetrios why I liked the spot so much. It had a long line of weeds, with rocks on one side and deeper water on the other.
“Yep,” he said. “Fish like that because they can hide in the weeds and surprise other fish as they swim by.”
“How did you know that? I thought you never fished before.”
“I learned it from my favorite video game. It’s called Fishing Hook and I play it all the time on my i-Pad.”
His favorite video game is a fishing game? Is there anything not to like about this kid?
As I was thinking this, Demetrios went back to catching fish. After he reeled in several more on consecutive casts, I said: “I can’t believe how well you’re doing.” “Trust me, fishing ain’t this easy.”
“I guess I’m a pretty good fisherman in every dimension.”
“Yeah, this one and the video game one.”
Not knowing how to best respond to this, I changed the subject. “You ready to go looking for some bigger fish, Demetrios?”
“Sure,” he answered. “But you don’t have to call me Demetrios. Call me Meetch if you want. It’s easier to say.”
We didn’t have any luck finding big fish. Meetch was patient, but after trying several spots, he said: “Can we go back to the first place? What’s it called?”
“You know, it’s one of my favorite spots, but it doesn’t have a name. Until now. I’m hereby naming it Meetch’s Corner.”
Meetch smiled. A broad and bright smile, one in which I saw both pride and understanding.
I never asked Meetch to keep the location of Meetch’s Corner a secret, but somehow, I know he will.