All You Need Is Luck

February 4, 2009 by  

Our Outdoors
Nick Simonson

 

Chris Hustad got his first open water fish of 2007 on the Missouri River on accident. He was letting out line with a floating Rapala at the top of the water at 22 feet when it struck. They were only prepping for a hole 50 yards ahead.

Chris Hustad got his first open water fish of 2007 on the Missouri River on accident. He was letting out line with a floating Rapala at the top of the water at 22 feet when it struck. They were only prepping for a hole 50 yards ahead.

It has been said that luck is just an excuse for bad fishing. That’s mostly true. If one knows the seasons, the species and the patterns that result when the two cross, fishing success, or at least a couple fish here and there, isn’t tough to come by. Nevertheless, there are items of luck that many anglers won’t go without in hopes of aligning the metaphysical intangibles which provide that kicker walleye or monster bass in a tourney or slew of panfish for supper.

Hooked

Lucky fish hooks are so common, they have become their own business. Every store, from Wal-Mart to Bob’s Better Bait and Bobbers, has a box of oversize plastic-wrapped fish hooks with a price of $1.99 or so sitting at the checkout counter. Grab a box on eBay for bulk luck at a discount. Select the shiniest one from the group and tell the fish to beware.

In order for the hook to work, it should be clipped onto another lucky item, preferably a well-worn battle-scarred hat. Expect better results if the fabric on the brim is frayed, the stitching hangs in little threads and the sweat stain is over two inches thick – no doubt from some intense battle with a trophy fish. Combining these two items will double your karma, for certain.

Lucky Lures

Oftentimes, there’s one lure that does it all and it usually isn’t cheap. An angler’s favorite tale usually starts with him holding aloft a bait from his tacklebox like the holy grail surrounded in divine sunlight as he recounts a story of epic proportions.

“You see this bait here? With this bait, in just two hours, I landed 37 crappie 19 white bass, five keeper walleyes and the state record northern. You can still see the pike’s teeth marks right here.”

This lucky crankbait met its match and was mangled by this pike, but it was glued together and put back in action the same day.

This "lucky crankbait" met it's match and was mangled by this pike, but it was glued together and put back in action the same day.

Lures are different than lucky trinkets or hats, they do the dirty work and there’s always a chance they might not come back. They bounce off rocks and bang into deadfalls, triggering strikes. They produce more fish than any other lure in the tacklebox, even more than the same color scheme and model that might also be stowed there. Is it luck? Probably not.

Just as every crankbait runs slightly different from the others in its production batch, some requiring extra tuning to get the desired result, some just run perfect. There’s a special wiggle or flash that somehow causes fish to bite more so than any other lure. Stories of anglers marking their blessed baits run rampant. The one with the red spot painted on the bill or with black marker on the tail is usually the lucky one. If you’re going to borrow a lure from a friend, those are the crankbaits they won’t let you use.

As with all good lucky streaks, the golden lure’s magic ends when the bait is lost to the elements or a big fish. The latter usually makes for a better story than the bait ending up as a shore side tree ornament, but both make an angler question how charmed their crank was in the first place.

Rituals

As with any sport, fishing is not without its share of superstitious behavior. Many acts, from reciting Rapala’s Fisherman’s Prayer, to doing a fish dance have been recorded. A few years ago, it was reported that Father Mariusz Zajak, holder of the world ice-fishing walleye record, read the Bible each time he went to the shack and had his rosary beads in his reeling hand while waiting for the big one to strike. Faith and divine intervention provide a type of luck no fish should mess with.

Those who smoke or chew tobacco know that firing up a fresh coffin nail, or plugging in a “lucky chaw” is an action that brings the fish to life, more so if the action is taken with the line in the water. I’ve witnessed first hand struggling anglers fall off the wagon and fire up a smoke, just to change their fishing fortune. Like a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan, such small actions can trigger cosmic storms of good luck.

Whether any of these items work to influence the mystical plane of angling auspices is anyone’s guess. It is apparent from my experience and interactions with most anglers, that many believe it doesn’t hurt to carry something special – beyond the tackle, the tactics and the time on the water – that helps them land those lunkers…in our outdoors.


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