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Got Luck?

I have introduced many of the fishing seminars I have done with the question that titles this blog post.  “Got luck?”

That is a rhetorical question that I answer by stating I do not believe in “luck”.  Sure there are random events that we cannot control.  If you spend any time in nature, on the water or in the woods and fields, you know that is very true.

However, you know that angler you consider to be “lucky”, the guy who always catches fish or seems to always catch the biggest fish?  He catches those fish for a reason.  There probably are several reasons he is successful.  I will tell you that “lucky” anglers have mastered the thinking and skills needed to be successful on the waters they fish.

Continuing that line of thought, there are some definitions of “luck” that I believe are appropriate.  You may have heard that “luck” is the residue of hard work.  Likewise, it has been said that “luck” is where opportunity meets preparation.  I believe both of those definitions are very true of our hunting, fishing, and trapping pursuits.  That “lucky” angler has probably worked harder than other anglers, and is probably better prepared to take advantage of those fortuitous random events when they do occur.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there has been scientific research on this very topic!

This was written by a psychologist who has done research on luck.  In fact, he has published several articles and books on this subject.  Follow this link to a short blog post:


Notice the principles that Professor Richard Wiseman lists to become “lucky”:

  1. Maximize Chance Opportunities
  2. Listening to Lucky Hunches
  3. Expect Good Fortune
  4. Turn Bad Luck to Good

Do not just read those four points that Professor Wiseman summarized, read the explanation that goes with them.  In fact, take even more time and read one of the papers suggested at the end of that post, The Luck Factor.


I have often said that a person can learn to become a good angler.  There are certain skills that can be mastered for fishing just like any other sport or pursuit.  However, I would say that so much of the skill that it takes to become a good angler, one that consistently catches fish, consistently catches big fish, is thinking.  The most important skill an angler can develop is a logical approach to finding fish under a variety of conditions, on a variety of waters, and figuring out how to make them bite.  Most of that happens between the ears!  Buck Perry said the most important tool any angler could possess was the one sitting on top of their shoulders.

I could comment on each of Professor Wiseman’s four principles and how they apply to the fishing I do, the fishing you do.  Some of those principles I have blogged about before (e.g. Play Your Hunches, Sheep).  I could tell you lots of stories and give you lots of examples.  Yet, I am not going to.  To keep it simple, keep it short, I will just summarize it by saying, “What he said!”.  His research on “luck” is absolutely true and absolutely applies to fishing.  Try it.  Practice it.  Do it!


About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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