What Luck! or What Luck?
“Everything in life is luck.
“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
We’ve been on a pretty good roll here lately on the High Class Hooker. If you read my July article, you know that we won the Yamaha Dolphin Masters Tournament on June 1 with a group of locals, including four servers from the neighboring Conch Republic Seafood Co. Then, in our next tournament, the Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament, July 18, 19 and 20, we finished second, despite not fishing the first day due to mechanical problems.
Those two successes reminded me again about a recurring theme I’ve mentioned in a lot of my articles, i.e., the big role luck plays in our lives. To whom we were born and where we were born (e.g., the USA) are probably the best examples, but we can all cite our own multiple examples of events in our lives where complete luck determined the result - maybe how you met the one you love, how you got your first good job, etc.
That got me thinking. (Always a dangerous thing!) As noted by the above quotes, there are widely divergent opinions on what luck in life is. Some, for example, see life as just a matter of chance/fate, while others think you create your own luck by your efforts. So, I thought I’d write a brief story about our last several weeks in two versions and let you decide which one fits.
Boy! I gotta be the luckiest captain in the Keys. Been doing this for over 8 years now; never came close to winning any tournament; and, now, we win one and finish second in our next one in consecutive months. Just shows you how fickle the fishing gods can be and how you just gotta put your lines in the water every day and hope for the best. I mean, think about it, I have a relatively new mate working for me during the first tournament - one hired almost by default after two other guys passed on the job; we take a bunch of people with little or no fishing experience and as interested in partying as catching a fish; we never go beyond about 200 feet of water; and we still catch the biggest mahi and the biggest aggregate three mahi. Unbelievable. Talk about dumb luck!!
Then, the very next month, we’re a sponsor’s boat (Bacardi) in the Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament. I have a fill-in free-lance mate working for me because I was in-between regular mates again; we only fish 2 of the 3 days because we have mechanical problems the first day; we, again, have mostly casual fishermen on board; and we still mange to finish second. And, that finish wasn’t because we caught the second highest total of marlin caught. No, it’s just because no one else caught more that one and we just happened to be the second boat to catch one, time of release being the factor that decided any tie. Again - talk about pure luck!! I keep looking for the horeshoe that someone hid on my boat, but haven’t found it yet. It’s gotta be there somewhere!
You know, the last 2 months have finally seen a well-deserved payoff to the hard work I’ve put into the last 8-plus trying to run what I hoped would become the best offshore charter fishing boat in Key West. We just kept putting the lines in the water every day; tried to learn as much as we could about doing things the right way; kept the boat in the best shape possible; always tried to have the best available mate we could find; and always put the customer first. It may have taken awhile, but we’re finally getting some much deserved recognition because of our back-to-back finishes - first and second - in two recent well-known tournaments, the Yamaha Dolphin Masters and the Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament.
We made some right decisions and overcame some big hurdles to pull it off. First, after our 4 year fishing mate departed last September, we were extremely diligent in finding the right replacement, considering multiple people over a period of several weeks. We eventually found the best candidate, and it paid off big-time when he helped us win the Yamaha with a crew of beer-drinking, inexperienced anglers.We were smart in that one, consciously deciding to stay inshore all day, where the bite had been good, rather than running out deep as most of the other competitors had done and as we had done many times in the past. That led to us being in the right spot - 180 feet - to catch a 40 pound dolphin before 8 AM, as well as other big fish before 9 AM. Good call!
Then, when the Drambuie rolled around, circumstances had us looking for a regular mate again. We hadn’t found one yet, so we had to find the right free-lance mate to give our customers the best shot. Because I had developed a good rapport with one of the best - Paul Diggs- he actually got other mates to cover his fishing commitments to other charter boats so that he could fish the tournament with us. We talked strategy beforehand and decided that we were just as likely to find a marlin at 500 feet of depth as 2500, so we decided just to start there, head straight south until the “double zeroes” latitude-wise and then spend some time around the wall on the way home. We also decided to run nothing but big lures without live or dead bait.That strategy paid off when we were on top of the wall at just the right moment and with just the right lure to get a 175 pound blue marlin to eat. Because of Paul’s coaching and some good boat maneuvering, we were able to get the leader, make the catch and release the fish in good shape quickly. Despite the relative dearth of marlin caught - only five in the tournament and nobody caught more than one - our hard word in finding the second one, despite not fishing the first day, and getting it to the boat paid off with a second place finish.
Which version is most accurate. I think it’s the first, but I’ll leave that up to those who know me best to decide. Maybe Seneca was right, and it’s a combination of the two.
Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
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