There have been many occasions when I have been fishing with someone who overproduced me. Some of these people had better fishing skills than me, either in a general sense or in terms of the specific technique we used or the type of fishing we did. I am sure some of these companions thought I was a poor fisherman.
On the other hand, there have been many times when it has been the other way around and I’ve overproduced the people I was fishing with. Sometimes my fishing skills were better than those of my companions, but most of the time there was a subtle point about the particular thing we were doing that I was more comfortable with.
It could be that I could keep throwing and bring my bait closer to the action. Or that I could get closer (to cover) and put my bait in place more often. Or that my bait got deeper (think jigs here) and stayed in the correct zone longer. Or that my rig maintained contact with the bottom better and the fish only hit something that was presented directly on the bottom. Or that I could see a hit better because of the equipment I used.
There is usually a subtle point that makes a difference in effectiveness. In fact, fishing with someone more skillful than you is better than fishing alone because you can learn more from their success. One area where skill is especially important is finding fish and knowing where and when to go. Another is to pour and get the bait to be accurately placed. Most people can stay up to date fairly quickly with spinning and bait casting equipment, but when it comes to fly casting, a person’s fly fishing skills require more effort to master.
Being on the short end of the stick can be a frustrating and even humiliating experience. And the question arises, “Is fishing a skill?” Or is there such a thing as “fishing luck”? I think it’s both with more emphasis on fishing skills and less on luck. Surely some people are by nature hardwired to figure out where to go and what to do for a particular species. I’ve been with such exceptionally avid anglers, but most of us have to work harder to use this skill.
Then there are some people who have Lady Luck smile more often than others. I do not know why. However, I know the adage of making your own happiness is true. For example, let’s say you are fishing in a certain location and the action is absent or slows down. Do you stick with it or do you move and then find that the place you moved to is full of fish? Was that a smart move or a godsend? I say wise. What if you stay in the original spot but change the type or color of the bait and the fish becomes receptive? Skill or luck?
Both fishing skills and luck are related to experience and opportunity. The more you do, the better you get and the more you realize situations you have faced before and / or what to use, where to go, and how to do something specific.
So learn as much as you can, fish as often as you can and don’t let bad trips discourage you. Know that even the best anglers have days when they don’t catch fish or make bad trips. Obviously this is not the result of poor skill or bad luck. And since experience creates trust, they know the next outing will be better.