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When Lady Luck smiles the fish will be biting; if she's scowling stay at home; angling: Even the most skilful still need good fortune.


DO you believe in good luck? I think I do.

Do you believe in bad luck? I certainly do because in the piscatorial world in which I move, I have had my fair share of it - and outstandingly so in 2009.

When any two anglers meet - be they friends or strangers - the opening gambit is always: Any luck? What then follows is a lengthy tale of either good or bad luck.

I wonder if any other sport is quite as dependent on luck? In most other sports skill is paramount to someone's success.

In fishing this is not necessarily so.

In fishing there is that other "invisible" factor - the fish.

No matter how skilful an angler, is he will not succeed unless he comes across a fish that is in a co-operative mood and this is where the luck comes in.

If you can picture two anglers going to fish a lake - one turns right and fishes the west bank the other goes left and fishes the east bank.

Now the fish happen to be feeding along the west bank and he is the lucky angler getting a full bag of fish.

There are no fish on the east bank and the angler blanks. Bad luck!

Luck just happened to coincide with the choice of location.

I will admit to having had my fair share of both good and bad luck but what is surprising is that either the good or the bad seemed to come along in 'blocks'.

I would find that if I had bad luck I then had a run of bad luck experiences and similarly with good luck.

Once I struck it lucky, I would have a string of good luck experiences - and what a wonderful boost to morale they are. I have known anglers who have exper-ienced a whole season of bad luck, followed by another season of sheer good fortune.

Boat fishing is very popular and because of the companionship, it is not unusual to see two friends out fishing in a boat.

Both anglers could be using the same flies and the same technique but while one goes on to catch fish, the other fails to hook even one.

Why is that? It is down to luck - has Lady Luck turned her charms on one angler while ignoring the other? This is a situation often faced by anglers and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it.

It could be that the next time the two friends go out fishing their luck is reversed.

I can still vividly recall my worst ever experience of bad luck.

It was in 1985. The BBC had been invited to present a fishing programme on salmon fishing on the river Tweed in Scotland.

They chose to film the programme on February 14, which was the opening day of the salmon fishing season.

I was to co-present the programme with rugby legend, Gareth Edwards, who happens to be a superb angler.

We had the privilege of filming on the famous Junction Pool of the rivers Tweed and Teviot. This is probably the finest salmon pool in the UK and it would cost a fortune to fish it - especially on the opening day of the season.

The person who was fishing the pool was Flo Miller, wife of Joe Miller, who knew the pool well.

In fact, he too was in a privileged position, being the chairman of the company that owned - or leased - the fishery. The cameramen had their cameras already in place on the bank of the pool by nine o'clock in the morning and right on the dot the boat came downriver towards the pool with Flo Miller sitting on a high stool in the stern and the gillie sitting in the middle holding the oars.

The gillie held the boat steady and Flo cast out her 18 gram Tiger Toby.

On her third cast a salmon hit the Toby and was hooked.

Flo fought the fish while the gillie rowed the boat to the bank some five yards in front of the cameraman.

In great excitement, the cameraman filmed fast and furiously as the salmon was landed in a huge net.

Unfortunately, the gillie had forgotten his priest which proved a little problematic! This sequence of events happened no less than five times in the next hour and only one salmon kicked free.

The producer had allocated four whole days for filming - but now everything that was needed was in the can in just over an hour.

The following year because of the success of the programme, Gareth and I were invited back to join a party of anglers during the opening week of the season.

I was on cloud nine and never before or since have I looked forward to something with such joy and anticipation.

When I arrived at the hotel everything was on high; the water was at an ideal height and I was to have five days of fishing on the best salmon fishery in the UK.

I won't bore you with the details of my fishing exploits. But on my third cast on the Monday, I hooked a beautiful sewin - and that was the sum total of my catches over four days of fishing.

Every member of the party caught salmon with Gareth taking eight in one day!

I doubt if any member of the party worked as hard as I did - but whatever technique I used, I just could not tempt a salmon. On the fourth day, while I was eating my packed lunch, my gillie took hold of my rod and with the first cast hooked a nice salmon. He handed me the rod saying: "Come on Moc! - at least you can now say you have landed a salmon".

As soon as I had the rod in my hands, I tightened the line.

The salmon gave a mighty leap - and goodbye - it was gone.

I felt so demoralised, I didn't know what to do.

I packed my bags and on the pretence that I was needed at home, started on my homeward journey.

There was no point in staying longer because I knew I would not catch anything.

Why? Well you already know the answer to that!


SEALED BY FATE: In fishing, it is all about luck, possibly more than any other sport. Two lads fishing from a boat - one having good luck and the other suffering a spate of bad luck
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 8, 2009
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