The fishing community is comprised of a diversity of tactical approaches, species preferences, and beliefs and superstitions that run the gamut from plausible to unbelievable.
Rooted deeply in the fiber of many who fish is a belief in luck as a factor in the outcome of their success on the water. “Lucky catch!” is not an uncommon expression.
Truth is, luck does play into the equation out on the water, but one thing I have observed is the best anglers leave little to luck when they launch their boats and rig their rods.
The best anglers I know are the ones who work the hardest, make informed decisions, and leave nothing to chance. They are the people whose good days always outnumber the bad. They always catch more and bigger fish.
What’s more, they usually are the first at the boat ramp in the morning and the last to a trailer home in the evening. Spring, summer, autumn, and even winter are their favorite seasons, and they go fishing on days when most of us stay home.
They are the folks who make their own “luck” by investing way more time and effort than the average angler in learning and refining their approach to teasing and catching their favorite species.
Who are these super anglers?
Consider four who I’ve come to recognize as head-and-shoulders ahead of the rest of their class: John Breedlove, Sammy Cappelli, Michael Durkalec, and Chris DePaola.
Their names may be familiar to you. I have reported on all of them in past columns. Their talents and insights are considerable. They are super achievers by any measure.
They also are diverse in their tactical approaches and in the species they target. But they do share one important attribute: They are fishing now, at the end of November in Northern Ohio, while most anglers are home watching football on television.
Breedlove, Cappelli, Durkalec and DePaola very likely are fishing even right now as you read this column with your morning coffee. They probably are on Lake Erie or are on a tributary within a mile or two of the big lake.
Cappelli, a Springfield Township walleye pro, landed dozens of super-sized walleyes last week out on Erie and declared he had another trip or two to do before freezing weather shuts things down.
Breedlove, the steelhead aficionado from Girard, celebrated Thanksgiving in Conneaut Harbor where he reeled in a bunch of steelhead that hit his spoons off the breakwaters.
DePaola, an Austintown resident who specializes in muskies and steelheads, extends his fishing year by flyfishing the pools and runs of Ohio’s Ashtabula River and Conneaut Creek.
Durkalec, Cleveland MetroParks fisheries biologist, continues to box Erie’s jumbo yellow perch with the Cleveland skyline as his backdrop.
Their investment in time beyond the “normal” Ohio fishing season really shows in their catches. Likewise for Ohioans Grant and Gregg Gallagher, who two weeks ago ventured out across the international boundary on Erie for a bumper crop of late-fall smallmouth bass that included a 10.15-pounder. Gregg’s history-making catch is the largest smallie ever caught in Canadian waters.
Cold-weather fishing is not for everybody. But those who do extend their days on the water certainly are setting the bar high for the rest of us.
Jack Wollitz’s book, “The Common Angler,” explores the fun stuff that makes fishing a passion for so many people. He appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.