We’ve all heard about Murphy’s Law — anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And, in our day-to-day living, we have all probably found that, to some degree, this is true.
Fishermen, however, have discovered that a similar phenomenon exists for their world in the great outdoors and lake country of wild northwestern Wisconsin.
Certain rules of the universe apply to fishermen, a fact I have discovered since I have started to enjoy fishing a bit more often.
As a kid I used to spend endless hours on the lakes with my grandfather. The man was a “fishaholic” for sure, and today he would probably have his own fishing show on the Outdoor Channel. He always knew those great “secret” spots that you hear about, and could he ever whip up a fantastic shore lunch. Dad taught me hunting, but I have to say Grandpa was the fisherman in the family.
But even back then I noticed that those certain “Murphyesque” rules kept popping up. If there was a branch within half a mile, I’d hook it. If the motor could sputter and die just when we were in a hurry, it would. Once, Grandpa even hooked a massive snapping turtle that he initially thought was a monster musky. And I, of course, mastered the practice of having a big fish flip out of my hands back into the lake, just before we could take a picture of it … hey, I was only about 8-years old!
But there are other Murphy-type things that happen to fishermen. Some of you might recognize them:
• If you are on one side of the river, the fisherman on the other side of the river will be catching all the fish.
• If you have a favorite lure, that will be the one that gets snagged on the 72-pound log at the bottom of the lake.
• There is no such thing as waders that don’t leak … especially the pair you have on.
• The weather gods hate you. If you dress warm, the temperature will soar. If you wear just a t-shirt, the temps will plunge and rain is sure to fall.
• The biggest and hungriest mosquitoes will always be attracted to your boat.
• If you find a “secret spot” and really have a great time, a dozen people will be there the next time you visit.
• The more remote the fishing spot, the greater the need for the toilet paper you forgot to bring along.
• Walleyes will always bite, except when you are fishing for them.
• Trout will always bite, especially when you failed to buy a trout stamp.
• Conservation wardens seldom warm up to, “Hey, I’m only two fish over the limit! Gimme a break!”
• That mouth-watering walleye shore lunch and campfire you were planning for mid-day will magically transform itself into a choke-it-down meal of dried out American cheese on four-day-old bread, soggy chips, and a lukewarm 7-Up when the walleyes fail to cooperate, the drizzle comes in, and you discover you forgot the matches.
• It is really, really embarrassing to check in to the emergency room suffering from a chipmunk bite inflicted when you tried to give the little monster a peanut during shore lunch.
• No matter how well you clean up, your truck will still smell like a fish-gutting station for roughly three days following your trip.
• The hungrier you are, the better that half bag of stale Doritos from last weekend looks. Ditto for the hot can of Pepsi you find behind the seat.
• Your fishing boat motor will only conk out at the remote spot which is the farthest point away from your truck — Murphy’s Law applies to fishermen too usually when a thunder storm is threatening to drench you.
• A least once on every outing, the guy fishing next to you will declare, “Man, you should have been here yesterday!”
• If you happen to catch a monster lunker, bigger than anything you’ve ever dreamed of, the loud tourist or annoying neighbor next to you will land one three ounces heavier and an inch longer.
• The guide who says he “knows the lake like the back of my hand” will act completely bewildered when he runs you up on the sandbar.
• And finally, a dry peanut butter and jelly sandwich and warm soda shared with your fishing buddies on a rainy day when the fish aren’t really biting well but the mosquitoes are, will taste better than any meal you’ve ever had … and the memory of that special time spent together, outside on a beautiful lake, will be priceless.
Like deer hunting, where pulling the trigger is not the most important part, actually catching your limit while fishing is well down the list. It is getting up well before daylight, hitting the icy still water and disappearing into the fog hanging over the lake. It is the mist thrown up hitting your face as your boat cuts across the lake, the site of a loon popping up so close you can see his red eyes, the awe-inspiring beauty of a blazing sunrise, and the countless “tall fish tales” told at the little country diner when the fishing is slow and everybody is in the mood for eggs and bacon.
And it is memories of a Grandpa who took you fishing and taught you which of his favorite lures always catches “the big one.” Murphy’s Law for fishermen? Sure. But really, that is part of the fun, I suppose. Happy fishing!