Even the most professional and experienced of anglers must admit to there being a large degree of luck involved in the sport.
Perhaps luck isn't the right word, it's more 'unpredictability'. I'm sure most have caught a species or size of fish which was completely unexpected at the time. This has to be one of the attractions of the sport. The anticipation when watching the float dip, hearing the buzzer blip, feeling the fly line tighten, whatever the method of detection you can never be sure what's on the other end.
An occasion springs to mind last February when I took Josh and Alf (two sons aged 11 and 9) to local coarse water Elmfield Fisheries. Just going in February was, unexpected to start with. It's normally very cold but we were having a spell of unusually mild weather and it was a bit of a spur of the moment thing.
The boys both fished with whips and pole rigs (saves me a lot of time undoing tangles) and I used a 11ft match rod and waggler set up. For the fist 3 hours they out fished me completely. Maggot was the bait and they were catching small roach, rudd and perch. The wind changed direction at about 10am and we moved to new swims to keep the wind behind us. The boys continued to land fish with a couple of bream now amongst the catch. I'd been helping the boys, showing them how to unhook the fish and use a disgorger but decided it was time to sit down and fish properly for an hour.
I just loose fed with maggots, little and often, and caught a perch of about 10oz followed by a bream of a pound or so but the next time the float dipped I struck and nothing moved. Then line began to run off the reel as something large started off across the lake. I was using 4lb line straight through so knew I stood a good chance of landing the fish as long as the hook held and I had the patience to tire the fish on an underpowered rod. The other problem was the pathetic landing net I'd brought. I have perfectly good landing nets, large and small but couldn't find them this morning and the only one I could find had a 5ft handle and a head about 1 ft across.
The boys were pretty excited and we hadn't even seen the fish as it swam up and down in front of us, hugging the bottom. Inevitably the fish did begin to tire and broke surface for the first time. There was a chorus of 'Wow!' from behind me as we got our first glimpse of a carp, and a double at that. The owner of the fishery happened to turn up at this moment and did a great job of getting the fish in the net. A beautiful common estimated at 14lb (no scales to weigh it!) was quickly photographed and returned.
A classic case of me being lucky? Certainly was, it took a degree of experience to play and land the fish but, as Alfie proved later by losing a good fish on the whip when the hook pulled out, the fish could have just as easily have picked up someone else's bait. This style of fishing must be the most commonly practised, loose feeding with bits of hookbait, fishing with a float and catching whatever comes along. Really enjoyable, especially when you get 'lucky'.