JACK WOLLITZ What's luck got to do with it?
Some anglers use the word "luck" in describing their on-the-water experiences, but the difference between success and failure really has little to do with being lucky.
One might curse bad luck after falling out of the boat or thank his lucky stars that he was able to grab a seat before toppling overboard. OK, those might be "luck" - or lack of it.
But real fishermen know that catching a big fish or a limit are not matters of luck. Both cases are results of good decisions made by knowledgeable people.
In control: Good anglers know they are in control of their destiny out on the water.
They appreciate the difference between "fishing" and "catching," and they base their decisions on factors that maximize their opportunities to be in the vicinity of lots of fishing.
Understanding the variables that one faces on the water is the most important step in removing mere luck from the fishing equation. Once the variables are recognized and understood, good anglers work to control their performance so that it has the opportunity to succeed.
So if your line breaks while fighting a lunker, is that bad luck? Certainly not. It's a performance issue.
A few tips: Here are a few tips that anglers can use to kick their performance up a notch and catch more fish.
Learn where your favorite species lives in a particular season and on any given day. Understand why the fish are in those places and figure out additional places with the same or similar conditions to hold fish.
Make sure your equipment is in excellent working order. Check rods for cracked eyes and worn wraps. Lube your reels properly and set the drags appropriately.
Tie perfect knots and check your line frequently for evidence of abrasion.
Bad knots and scuffed lines are the reasons lines - and hearts - break.
Gain confidence in a core group of lures and fish them properly. Don't be tempted to change lures all day, but learn to understand when a change is necessary. Remember the lure is just a tool to generate a fish's interest.
Anglers who change lures too frequently would be shocked to see what the wasted time adds up to.
Learn which colors work best on certain lures in the water color you are fishing. You don't have to carry every color under the rainbow if understand which ones are most likely to get bit.
Play the weather and sunlight. Learn to harness the wind and use it to literally point you toward the fish, then fine tune your location by positioning yourself so you can tease the fish from the shadows.
Holding and folding: Borrow a page from poker players‚ handbook and know when to hold and when to fold. In other words, don't be too quick to run to a new spot, but don't be too stubborn to move either.
Become a presentation perfectionist. A dear old golf friend once lamented that he was teased about his incredible "luck" when he got a hole-in-one.
"Hey," he said, "I was aiming for the hole, after all." Anglers who make great presentations also can get an ace.
And finally, don't be content to sit back and wait for luck to smile on your day.
It could be a long and frustrating wait. Take luck into your own hands and you'll have a lot more fun on the water.