The First Cast Curse

February 11, 2009 by  

By PJ Maguire


There are a lot of traditions and fishing superstitions.

There are a lot of traditions and fishing superstitions.

The lake was calm last summer when I took one of my younger cousins, Shawn, out fishing after dinner. In mid-July the wind typically dies down in the evening, making it perfect for casting top-water lures for Largemouth bass. There was a time in my life when top-water was my favorite presentation for catching large bucketmouths.

I motored the boat into a shallow bay and cut the engine so that we coasted to where we could cast lures just to the edge of the Lily pads. I tied up a Rapala Original on each of the two rods I had brought along. Although the Original is not a traditional top-water lure, they float and by making a strong jerk with a rod they dive then pop back to the surface. With this presentation, bass hit the lure on top of the water as well as beneath it with reckless abandon.

With a rod in my hand, I talked my cousin through the basic technique of how we were going to fish. I pointed out good places to cast and explained why the bass would be hanging in 3-5 feet of water at the edge of the lily pads on the shallow side of a drop-off. Then I made my first cast to show him what I had been explaining.

Wham-o! A typical mid-sized Largemouth took the lure and I quickly played the fish to the boat. I didn’t tell my cousin at the time, but I, like many fishermen, see catching a fish on the first cast as a bad sign, or curse.

I am a pretty superstitious person when it comes to hunting and fishing activities. When duck and goose hunting I like odd numbered decoy spreads and I don’t wash the majority of my camouflage clothing during the hunting season.

Fishing is the same way. I have lucky lures, hats, fishing shirts and have been known to ‘accidentally’ leave the net on the dock more than once. I don’t know about you but I always seem to get into the big fish when there is no net in the boat. Truthfully I won’t want it any other way.

There are a few exceptions to the “first cast curse”. One is when trolling. For example, if you catch a fish just after casting to begin your first troll, it bodes bad luck for the rest of the outing. However, if you catch a fish on the original cast of the outing, but it is over fifteen minutes into the troll, you are in the clear.

For me the same rules apply to bobber fishing or dragging Lindy rigs. Once the first cast of the outing has been reeled into the boat without a fish, there is no chance for the “first cast curse”.

I am not saying that every time you catch a fish on your first cast the rest of the outing is a wash. I am simply stating that in my personal experience this seems to be the case. My superstitions really are based on experiences, not just my imagination. Fortunately, I rarely catch anything on the first cast, which I guess could be some form of luck.

The smaller the species of fish, the less “the first cast “curse applies. When fishing for sunnies, crappies or perch, catching one on the first cast may not be a bad sign. However, I believe that if you catch a muskie on your first cast you are surely doomed. Same goes for northern pike and walleye, but not to the extreme of the muskie.

Back to that evening with my cousin. As I unhooked the largemouth I tried to explain to him that fishing usually doesn’t happen that way. I tried to convince him that typically you have to put the time, not minutes, to put fish in the boat. His response was just a laugh and another cast.

I didn’t laugh with him though. Instead I put another cast out and spent the rest of the evening catching nothing.


Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.