By Bob Hood
If you want to add a little mystery to your fishing and have a great time with family, a fishing buddy or simply in solitude, hit the road for the unknown. Head to a lake neither you nor anyone else you know has ever seen before.
Sound a little on the absurd side? Not really. Fishing unknown waters is a great way to expand your knowledge of how to fish different types of water, from lure selection and presentation to changing habitats and water depths.
It should not be surprising to many that there are an unusually large number of lakes the average angler knows little to nothing about. Just look at a state highway map or atlas and you'll discover for yourself just how many lakes, from big to small, are out there that you've never seen.
If you own only a bass rig, you won't have as many lakes that you can access, but that doesn't mean you won't have plenty of places to go. There are lots of them to choose from, including many small city-owned reservoirs that typically draw little fishing pressure.
If you own a jon boat, small plastic boat, kick boat or float tube, everything is virtually wide open to you. Small city water-supply lakes, community ponds and lakes as well as many large reservoirs are so numerous it would astound you. For example, in the Fort Worth-Dallas and surrounding area, there are more than 80 community lakes ranging in size from one acre to more than 55 acres, just to give you a clue. Imagine how many similar waters are in other areas, both metropolitan and rural.
Personally, I prefer the rural route. At least once a year, I shove either a kick boat or flat-bottom aluminum boat into the back of my pickup truck and head for a lake I've only recently discovered on a map or through conversations with a farmer, rancher or store owner at a country town during the previous deer or turkey hunting season.
But I don't just head straight to this newly-learned mystery lake. I check the route I'm going to take ahead of time for other small lakes which may be just a few miles off the road. Sometimes I make it to the destination lake. Other times, it'll just have to wait until I'm through fishing another newly-found lake.
A couple of years ago, I made a long half-circle road trip just checking out a few of these oldies. In all, I visited eight small lakes. I fished the ones that looked the most inviting, scouted a few for future reference, and shook my head in pity at one that had completely dried up during a drought.
While the trip may sound like I had a lot of spare time on my hands, the truth of the matter is that I actually was saving myself some time in the future. By actually visiting those eight lakes on one trip, I was able to narrow the list down to the ones I would target on future trips and not waste time heading to one that lacked enough water to float even my kick boat.
If you like to camp out as I do, some of these rural lakes can provide you the wide-open spaces you are looking for in an outing with family or friends. But even if you don't camp overnight, picnicking and fishing at an uncrowded location is a hard combination to beat.
As I mentioned earlier, locating these small lakes can be as simple as looking over a state map or atlas. Many of the larger ones are very evident, and their names are listed. Others are shown simply as very small blotches of blue, perhaps no larger than the head of a pin.
Under most circumstances, you should be able to find these little jewels on your own simply by driving the roads and looking for them. But if that fails and you want to save yourself some time, give a call to or visit a lo-al chamber of commerce, game warden, sheriff's department or feed store.
In fact, asking questions of the local game warden always is a good idea because many of the lakes you may plan to visit are not listed in the wildlife department's hunting-fishing regulations booklet, and they may have certain fishing regulations you should be aware of.
Mysteries are there for you to discover, and the fishing is there just waiting for you to make it happen.
What are you waiting for?