There have been many occasions when I was fishing with someone who outproduced me. Some of those people had better fishing skills than I did, either in an overall sense or with regard to the particular technique we were using or the kind of fishing we were doing. I’m sure some of those companions thought I was a poor angler.
On the other hand, there have been many times when it was the other way around, and I outproduced the people I was fishing with. Sometimes my fishing skills were better than those of my companions, but mostly there was some fine point about the particular thing we were doing that I had a better handle on.
It may have been that I could cast further, and get my lure closer to the action. Or that I could cast closer (to cover) and get my lure in the right place more often. Or that my lure was getting deeper (think jigs here) and staying in the right zone longer. Or that my rig was maintaining contact with the bottom better and the fish were only hitting something presented right on the bottom. Or that I was able to detect a strike better because of the gear I was using.
There is usually some fine point that makes a difference in effectiveness. In fact, fishing with someone who is more skilled than you are is better than fishing alone, because you can learn more from their success. One area where skill is especially relevant is finding fish and knowing where to go and when. Another is in casting and obtaining accurate lure placement. Most people can get up to speed fairly quickly with the use of spinning and baitcasting gear, but in flycasting, a person’s fly fishing skills take more effort to master.
Being on the short end of the stick can be a frustrating and even humbling experience. And it begs the question “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 the luck. Certainly, some people just are naturally hardwired to figure out where to go and what to do for a particular species. I’ve been with such exceptionally keen anglers, yet most of us have to work harder to come by that ability.
Then, there are some people on whom Lady Luck smiles more often than others. I don’t know why. However, I do know that there’s truth to the adage about making your own luck. For example, let’s say you’re fishing in a particular place and the action is nonexistent or slows. Do you stay at it, or do you move, then find that the place you’ve moved to is full of fish? Was that a smart move or a lucky one? I say smart. What if you stay in the original spot but make a change in type or color of lure, and the fish become receptive? Skill or luck?
Both fishing skills and luck are linked to experience and opportunity. The more you do it, the better you get, and the more you recognize situations you’ve encountered before and/or recognize what to use, where to go, and how to do something particular.
So learn as much as you can, fish as often as you can, and don’t be discouraged by poor outings. Know that even the very best anglers have days when they don’t catch fish, or have poor outings. Obviously that’s not a result of poor skill or bad luck. And, since experience breeds confidence, they know the next outing will be better.