lady luck and the law of averages

I haven’t done a blog post for a while and this has been firmly on my mind for over a year and thus felt perfect for my first feature in Hookpoint magazine. So OK, what’s the title all about I hear you asking; Lady Luck and the law of averages? Let me endeavour to try and put this across to you all and make sense of what has baffled me to the point of obsessing over it.

Two years ago I began a consistent “lucky streak”of catching the targets. This in itself isn’t uncommon as we all have good (what many sports call purple patches) and bad periods of catching and definitely blanking but the strange thing was my fishing companions didn’t share the same successes over the run of good fortune, in fact it got so ridiculous that I started analysing the phenomenon, seeing if I could isolate any differentiators, which could be of benefit  to me and my fishing companions in future endeavours. If there was anything other than luck at play, I needed to know what it was!

Why was it, that I was fishing the same ground, with the same baits and rigs as my buddy but, it seemed to always be me who had the fish? In fact, it got to a point where I started to dread out-performing my buddy, which wasn’t good for my mental state or my fishing buddy either. I’m really not competitive in that respect and I always do my utmost best to encourage and promote whoever I’m fishing with and share in their successes when things don’t go my way, which is inevitable sometimes. When you fish with the same people over and over, make plans together, source bait together, experience failure together, the success too can feel like a team effort and that’s one of the most enjoyable parts of fishing with good friends. It had got to the point that even the misses would give me an evil look and complain about the fact it was me catching again and ask what’s going on out there? I certainly didn’t want anyone thinking I was holding back on some golden nugget of information.

I do not claim to be anything else other than a passionate thinking angler and by the same token I admit I have my weakness’s as have we all. This bizarre run of good luck took more momentum when I started eeling for the winter period. Same bait, same rigs, same ground and every time, boom it was me getting my picture taken with a nice conger eel! It got to a point where we would even question the law of averages, where one person would experience a bit of luck, then the next would and so on. It was a running joke at the time and we debated and discussed it regularly but there was no answer and no logical reason, or was there?

Luck skill or both maybe?

They say you make your own luck in fishing and after an insane amount of thought and self analysis, I made some progress or at least had another avenue of thought that made everything a bit less weird to me and my fishing buddy. 

Subtle differences at the right moments?

I remember the Roland rat incident at devils point conger fishing. We were using identical baits, rigs etc, however we only had a couple of fresh mackerel each to supplement the frozen mackerel, plus frozen cuttlefish. Nothing unusual you may think. My fishing partner had squandered his fresh mackerel early on at a non optimum point of the tide and I had one uber-fresh mackerel sat on the bench, with me taunting him that I was saving it for the right moment for a conger, which in this case was around high tide. Well one of the many large cheeky rats had other ideas and attempted to make off with my last fresh Mackerel! Not a chance I was letting that happen and it was retrieved with my gaff halfway up his escape hole to freedom! The “lucky” mackerel was sent out just before high tide and boom, the one eel of the 6 hour session was mine. Luck or inspired decision to wait until a good window of opportunity before sending out as fresh a bait as possible to up the odds of success? Or nothing more than coincidence maybe? One summer does not make a swallow, but it does demonstrate how such an ever so slight difference in approach through the session contributed to the deciding factor of success. It also leads in to my next point.

Hook-Points (Not the magazine!)

It doesn’t matter how fresh your bait is or how good your game plan and preparation are, if the shiny pointy thing at the end of your chosen rig, the hook, isn’t razor sharp, you’re setting yourself up for failure! It may seem obvious to most but the most important part of your rig/set up is the hook! You can spend (and most of us do) literally thousands on a set up, including the best blanks, reels, accessories etc, all rendered useless if your hook isn’t perfectly sharp every time you send it out! As a matter of coarse I check my hook point every time I put fresh bait on and as a rule of thumb if my hook point doesn’t stick to my skin or catch on a finger nail it gets binned! It has to be razor sharp, not just quite sharp, to give me the confidence to know that I’m giving myself the best chance of a good hook up and less chance of dropping  and losing a potential fish of a lifetime.

I have, along the way through guiding and general social fishing out and about, shocked and slightly embarrassed more than a few seasoned anglers with the dreaded words let’s have a look at your hook mate…Yes, more often than not, the hook hasn’t been fit for purpose and binned off for a new one. It is such a simple thing that takes a minute to remedy and make all the difference to results. The alternative is to sharper the hooks with a pocket sharpener, but unless you are proficient with these you’ll just dull the point further so tying on a new one can be a quicker remedy.

I’m not that anal to use a brand new hook every cast and I’ve even used slightly rusted hooks in the past as long as they are perfectly sharp they will get used. Hook storage can have a detrimental effect, especially when stored loose in compartments of your tackle box, moving around and blunting each other so it is far better to keep them in the original packaging until required.

Obviously location makes a big difference to hook longevity. You’ll get through more hooks fishing snaggy marks but even clean beach fishing can take a toll on your hook-point as after a few casts retrieving through sand the wear can take place. Also, different species can make hook longevity an issue. Gilt head bream being one of the worse offenders! Their crushing boney plates can ruin a hook point in seconds as they decimate your bait in an attack then leave you scratching your head or swearing a lot as the fish destroys your hook. Generally, if a hook has penetrated a fishes jaw, theres a good chance it’s lost some edge on the way in too, particularly in those with bonier jaws, so always give it a good check before re-baiting.

Summing up

So you can make of this feature what you will. Perhaps you can relate to some of the points I have raised, perhaps you will think carefully about which stage of the tide you use those few white rag you acquired whilst digging lug, or that one small cuttle you snagged whilst squidding. Or, perhaps you’ll have a renewed focus on how sharp your hooks truly are and notice the benefit in hook up rate. I just wanted to get this out there and hopefully make you think about what thought processes for into your fishing for maximum and consistent results.

Fishing is more than just a case of bend it and send it just hoping for the best. Take the time to think about those guys who continually hit the targets, the ones that are out there inspiring you to go fishing week in week out because I assure you those guys will consider the two most important aspects of their fishing to be the freshness of their bait and above all else a very sharp hook! These things have certainly made a difference to my fishing over the years.

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