From the beginning, luck and fishing were intertwined. It became part of our anglers’ lore. And while good luck has surely saved countless fishing trips, bad luck continues to doom the best laid plans of a fisherman.
Some say you make your own luck, but that’s not true. Pure fortune lies outside of our influence. However, it’s also inseparable from results, and there is some measure of luck involved anytime a fish flexes a fishing rod.
Regardless, luck is beyond our control. Instead, we manufacture our circumstances around it. With preparation and forethought, with curiosity and grit, we get the most of a good bite, turning opportunity into memories by capitalizing on the willingness of a fish. And when luck runs sour, we find a path through the difficulty and see it through, gaining the simple satisfaction of effort against the odds, growing stronger as an angler, every time we press through the adversity of bad luck.
Great trout fishing is rarely the result of good luck. And if the experience was up to the fish and to fate, I’d hardly pick up a fishing rod. Success on the water is not a slot machine. It’s more like a game of poker, where you play the hand you’re given and try to fool your adversary. Sometimes the cards you’re holding guarantee success. But the next day Mother Nature deals you a situation where pulling a couple fish is a grand achievement.
Skeptics sometimes question the strategies of dedicated anglers. They accuse us of complicating the game, of making a simple pastime unnecessarily complex.
“It’s just fishing,” they say. “Put your bait in the water and see if the fish eats it.”
But that’s waiting on luck. It’s hoping to get lucky. And when it doesn’t happen, all you’re left with are wants and wishes that your luck will turn around.
Our rapture with fishing stems from doing, not from waiting. We fool the next trout because we adjust, because we fail and then follow up with modifications, casting at new angles with an emerging dry fly or forcing a nymph deeper into the water column.
The willingness to meet luck wherever it stands, to accept what comes and fish regardless, is the fundamental attribute of die hard anglers, regardless of their region or the species they chase. We fish because we can, because we’re alive, willing and able, and because we mean to beat bad luck just as we did the last time it showed up. Our greatest fishing memories are a mix of conditions and circumstances. We remember not just the sunny skies, trophy fish and screaming drags. It’s the flat tires, wet clothes, shaking hands, sprained limbs and broken rods too.
Our failures might easily be excused for bad luck. The fish wouldn’t eat. The water was cold. The skies were too bright. But these thoughts weaken our will to solve the intangible mystery. And for as long as I’ve cast a line into a river, it’s that mystery which calls me back.
I have no doubt it always will. Because long ago I realized one truth in trout fishing. It’s not luck.
Fish hard, friends.
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Enjoy the day.
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