I’ve seen it happen many times. You know, when a good angler is going through a rough patch and all of his efforts are producing less than the usual results he has come to expect.
In the beginning, these anglers tend to suck it up, but eventually many will begin to quietly vent their frustrations to their buddies – sometimes hoping for a little sympathy.
That’s when you’ve got to be extra careful, because I’ve found that “fishing karma” can be a funny thing.
I first noticed this phenomenon as a kid when we fished with one of my dad’s buddies. This guy was an excellent angler, but at times he would go into a funk. We would be catching fish like crazy and he couldn’t buy one. That’s when he would start in on his low-intensity, but irritating, moaning about how bad his luck was, saying the fish wouldn’t bite his lure even if it was gold-plated, or, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all!” – one of his favorite lines. We didn’t feel sorry for him, because we knew the other shoe would fall soon enough.
It seemed just as he would reach the apex of his epic woe-is-me rant, it was inevitable that he would produce a monster catch. We had to put up with it; he was a good fishing buddy.
The funny thing is he would always have this silly little grin, one that told me the act was going just as it should. Once he caught the big one, he would always say, as straight-faced as he could, that he had given up hope and was so surprised by the big catch. Right. We knew it was his mojo-generating dance, and when he began doing it we would harass him about it, but it never stopped the inevitable. Kinda maddening. When he started whining – watch out. He was famous for catching big fish out of nowhere.
On another occasion, I had a friend tell me how tough the fishing had been for him. I could tell he was frustrated, and he’s a pretty well-versed angler. I could feel his pain when he shared his feelings that his catching and techniques weren’t working like he thought they should. Yes, he was upset and I tried to help.
Even though this little voice in my head kept warning me, I wrote him a nice email telling him I was quite sure he would get past this. Then, putting on my empathetic fishing cap, I went all out and assured him he was going to catch a monster soon. Big mistake because less than 24 hours later he sent me a picture of a leviathan.
I calmly told (chastised) myself that’s what happens when you give someone unsolicited advice and support. The worst part is, afterward, they always nonchalantly tell me, “I wasn’t really concerned.” What? As I talked to myself about my stupidity, it hit me that maybe I needed to get some uplifting now. Who could I call and unload on? Whaahh!
I’ve come to the conclusion that when someone tells me they’re on the fishing skids and carries on about how all luck and hope has abandoned them, I better run for the hills – fast. After thinking hard about the phenomenon, there must be something cosmic about complaining about your lack of luck lately that potentially triggers reverse karma. The sadder the story and the deeper the faux despair, the greater the victory ... or something like that. I find some anglers do this very naturally; others have to learn when to use this counterintuitive technique.
Yes, I tried it once, but my buddies said they would throw me out of the boat if I kept it up. On second thought, I need to tell you that my lucky horseshoe stopped working, and I can’t even catch a cold lately. Help! ( I feel better already.) Never give up!