Certainly, the various happenstances that plague us are not indicators of future success. Luck is manufactured - it's a product of careful planning and perseverance.
I suppose, though, that activities that rely heavily on luck, such as fishing, might have some cause and effect relationship to certain events.
I'm sure that many of you have noticed that simply preparing your boat for a fishing venture can result in the accumulation of black clouds. Not a bad thing, if you can hit your lake of choice quickly. You might hit a bite that was triggered by the decrease in daylight. But, of course, you're not that fast. You'll simply get to the lake at approximately the same time the downpour does.
Here, attempting to fish was the cause, the storm the effect.
Often, the cause is an event, and it has an effect on the fishing trip itself. It's not always easy to decipher either.
In the case of the black clouds, a fairly direct correlation can be established. There is a sense of foreboding as daylight suddenly diminishes. Impending doom is not always so obvious.
My brother, Chris, and some friends had plans to fish last Saturday. Late Friday night, while they were enjoying a night at his friend Tony's family hunting shack, Chris cut his finger open while slicing frozen butter on the palm of his hand with grill tongs, relieving himself of a fairly copious amount of blood. Random foolishness, or an ominous sign?
For them, Saturday's fishing trip played out something like this:
The boat they were to use was not at all ready to go, so they soon decided to use a different boat. They landed the boat they were using and left to retrieve Chris's boat.
When they finally got back to the launch with Chris's boat, the plug for the boat disintegrated in Chris's hands. Forty-five minutes after that, a temporary remedy had them on the water.
At the conclusion of their trip, the boat was lighter by one anchor and one trolling motor prop. It goes without saying that they caught no fish.
Obviously, if you cut your finger with grill tongs, don't go fishing! You have tainted yourself and those in your company. Also, I suggest that temporary remedies for disintegrated boat plugs might be even more unwise than cutting frozen butter with grill tongs.
I had plans of my own for Saturday. My wife, Cheryl, had yet to go fishing this year, and I was to take her on her inaugural adventure. We undermined the cause and effect relationship between boats and clouds by planning on shore fishing.
I was in the basement, laboring over our fishing equipment, when the phone rang. It was Cheryl, ringing me from the upstairs phone.
"Get up here, quick!" she implored.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Just get up here!"
Cheryl's urgent tone left me wondering whether I should grab a camera or a fire extinguisher. It was clear, however, that she did not want me to sit and ponder the choice for long.
Cheryl had just come in from outside, which apparently disturbed a winged critter that had taken up residence in her hair. The critter had taking to flitting about the house, riling both Cheryl and our easily excited black Lab, Griz.
The cause of the ruckus? A fierce, green luna moth. It eventually lighted at the edge of our front living room window. Camera, not fire extinguisher, I figured.
"Grizzly thought it was a bat," Cheryl said. I suppose dogs are color blind.
With the frightful moth still, and apparently giving off no odor suggesting it was food, Griz had now become disinterested.
We let both moth and dog out the front door, where the moth resumed flitting, and Griz sniffed the air for something to bark at.
"How often does that happen?" wondered Cheryl.
Not very often does one transport a luna moth indoors via a ponytail, riling a crazy animal and her dog, I supposed.
Like cutting your finger while slicing frozen butter with grill tongs, this was a relatively uncommon occurrence. It lacked the negativity of blood, so I hoped the moth was a good omen. I noticed the wind picking up.
I eyed the sky as I hurried fishing equipment from basement to truck while carefully avoiding my boat.
Our destination was the Rainbow Flowage, where shore fishing is widely available and often quite effective. Its presently large beaches often sport many tell-tale forked sticks where previous anglers have tried their luck.
As luck would have it, the first spot we looked at we had all to ourselves. Good sign, I thought. Or is it? Why is nobody fishing here? Maybe it's too hot. Yeah, people hate the cooling breeze off of a lake on a hot day.
Down the shore a bit, a couple of forked sticks indicated recent efforts.
Cheryl and I hauled our gear to the lakeshore. The receded lake (well below capacity) left lots of soft sand that made the going rough, especially for Cheryl, who has difficulty walking any distance, even over firm ground. A refreshing but vigorous incoming wind suggested we'd break no distance-casting records.
Nevertheless, we were fishing, and glad to be so. The action was not exactly furious, though. And Cheryl needed to get the skunk off.
Having not yet fished this year, Cheryl had yet to catch a fish, as one might surmise. That first fish is important on any single fishing outing, but it's especially so when you're halfway through the calendar and fishless.
Personally, I hate getting skunked so much that, if nothing's biting, I'd bait a no. 22 hook with a mosquito and fish for baitfish before admitting I'm skunked.
Well, Cheryl was not having much luck getting the whole year skunk off, and I was having no luck with my day skunk for quite a while. About 8:15 p.m. things started to look up.
I caught a walleye, successfully un-skunking myself for the day. I'll not wax poetic about this beautiful, golden fish that I had outwitted with my tactical genius and landed with fine form, because it was only about 12-inches long. Plus, it's not like me to brag. I wished, of course, that Cheryl had caught the fish and ended her skunk. At least she was hopeful, the walleye being proof that a bite was possible.
Mere minutes later, I hauled in another walleye. You've probably heard the term "cigar" used to describe small walleyes. This one was a cigarette. Still, two walleyes in minutes. Apparently, the luna moth had not negatively affected my mojo, I thought. Certainly more walleyes were to come.
Indeed there were more. One more. By the time I dragged the 13-incher ashore, Cheryl was expressing her jealousy. Well, it wasn't my ponytail the moth hitched a ride on. I guessed the luna moth had limited bad luck powers, only able to affect the carrier.
But, as darkness set in, Cheryl's skunk was laid to rest. She landed a small bullhead. Now on a roll, she soon caught another. Like a baseball player breaking a slump with an infield hit, I expect she's ready for the rest of the season. Still, could the luna moth effect be debunked by two little bullheads?
Catching the bullheads caused Cheryl to recall that her dad had a series of nicknames for her over her childhood years. She went from "princess" to "britches" to "bullhead." I'll not comment on the reasoning behind the third nickname, except to say Cheryl enjoyed the recollection.
Really, I doubt the moth had any effect at all. Like I said, I'm not a superstitious person.
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com