You know all that stuff we teach about knowledge and versatility being keys to fishing success? Well, it's true - as far as it goes. But, there's another ingredient you can't ignore. You need an edge during tournaments when you have all of those skilled fishermen on the water at once. And, it doesn't hurt when you are just fun fishing either. We re talking about luck.
Yep, you heard right. Luck.
We admit it. The power of good fortune cannot be overlooked. Some professional fishermen follow so many rituals for luck that they could put a leprechaun to shame. Think about it. Baseball players are notoriously superstitious. Many insist on crossing themselves three times or taking precisely three practice swings before each pitch.
Or take Michael Jordan, for instance. His pre-game ritual consists of eating the same meal (steak and potatoes), putting on his North Carolina blue shorts, wearing a different pair of shoes, and getting his ankles taped last. From his book Rare Air, "As long as I have these shorts on, and I have them on whether I'm playing a game or wearing a suit, I feel confident."
It's all got to do with concentration and the power of positive thinking. Perry Good, the top money winner on the Professional Walleye Trail insists on turning his right sock inside out. Not his left sock, mind you. His RIGHT. Gotta be the right. When asked why, he mouths the words that serve as the mother for all great superstitions. "I did it once by mistake and I had a great tournament. I've done it ever since."
That's nothing compared to "the rock". Perry's son, Jason, found the stone (unusually shaped like a fish) along a shoreline and gave it to his dad saying it would bring him all the luck he would need. Perry went on to win the next tournament and placed high in the one after that. "I've kept it with me ever since."
Well, it's almost always with him. There was that time he thought he misplaced it when it was time to leave for the next event. He tore the house apart looking for it in a panic. "You'd of thought I lost a $1,000... maybe more." And, then there's more of what we term the "clothing factor". "I do believe in lucky hats," Good said. "It changes from year to year, but if I have a good day, I keep wearing it. If not, it goes to the bottom of the pile."
Bring up the subject of luck to PWT pro, Dale Stroschein, who often shares a room with Perry on the circuit, and he's quick to point the finger at his roommate. "Perry is VERY superstitious." And, you Dale? How about you? "Well, I'm real superstitious."
Guess so. Remember Perry's fetish with the right sock? Stroschein noticed him doing it and starting turning his left sock inside out. Not the right. His LEFT. He had good results, so he keeps it that way. That s not all. Perry has learned to stay downwind when Stroschein is having a great tournament because Dale wears the same clothing day in and day out as long as he does well. That means if he really "socks" (excuse the pun) it to the walleyes on Day One of competition, the underwear he has on is three days old by the final weigh-in. Talk about using scent to catch fish.
Stroschein also admits to being a fervent believer in the most dreaded of all forecasters of bad luck.....the hex. The PWT is a pro/am format where each professional is paired with a different amateur each day. If the amateur happens to make any mention about being "bad luck" or "I'm a jinx" when they meet, that's the end of that. "It happened in South Dakota the last time. We blanked that day."
On the other hand, it was an amateur who introduced Stroschein to the value of tossing coins overboard every so often as an offering to the fish gods. "I saw him doing it and asked why. He said, For good luck! And, I said, hey, let me ante up. I've been doing it ever since."
But like Perry, it was a child in Stroschein's life who gave him the creme de la creme of all superstitions. His daughter, Kayla, found a noisemaker in her Burger King fun meal and gave it to her dad. She said it was a "fish caller." "It makes this goofy sound," Stroschein said, pulling it from his pocket to demonstrate. Is that a wounded duck nearby?
How about walleye pro, Tommy Skarlis, who fishes with partner Chad Kinkade on the Master's Walleye Circuit? His superstitions range from a lucky lure to some cheap trolling rods that have consistently produced big fish. "They're ugly and falling apart, but we use them," Skarlis said.
A friend who taught him how to fish rivers gave Skarlis an antique coin purse. He keeps it filled with crankbait snaps in his pocket whether he is using crankbaits that day or not. His biggest weapon doesn't qualify as superstition. He prays. "Al Linder told me it's OK to pray for bites, but what happens after I get them is up to me. I prayed for the bites that won for us at Big Stone and the ones that got us the Master's Walleye Circuit's Team of the Year last year. I prayed and the rods started going crazy."
The 1997 PWT angler of the year, Chris Gilman, believes in prayer, too. But, there was a time not so many years ago when he fished the Master's Walleye Circuit and he believed in the curse of "the came." He traveled, roomed and shared information with four other teams. When one of them did poorly, they were described as "dry". Somewhere along the line, someone purchased a stuffed camel toy made of real camel hair to be awarded after a bad tournament. Naturally, it became was a thing to avoid. It would show up in rod compartments or tackle boxes at the most in-opportune times. Gilman once went on a deer hunt and found it in his bow case. He blanked. He was afraid to throw it out from fear the curse might become lifelong. So, he sent it to someone else via UPS.
Who are we to cast stones (please, excuse the pun again) and question the power of faith or of luck. Ted Takasaki may top them all. For starters, thanks to daughter, Kristi, he has at least 10 lucky rocks. It would be a real shame if he ever fell overboard.
About three years ago, wife, Lori, got into the act by cutting out the infamous "blue dot" from the pages of the National Enquirer. They are advertised as "psychically energized." He keeps them in his wallet all the time and takes them out to rub them whenever he needs an extra boost. "They work more often than not."
Ted's arsenal of good luck charms hardly stops there. There's a lucky frog lure and a lucky stuffed walleye pillow he takes on the road. And, don't forget the styrofoam "lucky walleye fishing fairy". Kristi made it during the walleye street festival that coincides with the Mercury Nationals, which, by the way, Ted won in 1993 while partnered with Chris Gilman.
Scott Richardson, however, travels light. His only charm rests on a chain around his neck. It's a religious medal of St. Andrew, the first disciple. Andrew, a fisherman, is the patron saint of anglers.
Why do lucky charms and rituals seem to make a difference? Heck, we don't know. Truth is their value probably lies in the fact that they foster positive thinking. They can calm and refocus excited anglers who take the time to rub a energized blue dot or toss a coin into the water or finger a rock in their pocket. What we do know is that lucky charms can work no matter what the reason. If you think they help, they will. It's true. Bet you a four-leaf clover!