The sweet smell of honeysuckle filled the air as I walked along the path between the farm field and the thin riparian wood line. Up ahead of me, two small groundhogs scampered from the open crop rows to the cover of the streamside vegetation. I looked to the right to find a path down to the stream. New growth from the Japanese knotweed filled the edge of the field, but a slight break revealed branches that could be pushed aside to make my way down to the stream. The multiflora rose narrowed the trail and quickly made me aware to watch any exposed skin near the sharp brambles.
Cool air emanates from the water as I approach the stream. To my left, I see three anglers huddled around a small pool with a leaning sycamore, like it is a campfire. They take turns tossing a small bladed lure with their spinning rods. Each of them jingles when they move, as the stringers dangling from their wading belts rattle. I won’t be starting at this pool, so I continue along the trail downstream.
Walking to what appeared to be the end of the trail, I came upon a line of barbed wire with a series of electrified lines hanging down across the stream. A dairy farm marked the downstream limit of the reach. As the cows notice my presence, they begin to make their way toward me. Luckily, a fantastic run and pool are just upstream of the fence and my pending audience. Between the fence and an overhanging tree, the run looks super fishy but relatively hard to fish. I am optimistic that I will be able to land a trout or two from the hole. I tie on a mop fly as the point fly and tie a sexy walt’s worm on the tag.
I wade into a good position, and I think through my strategy of fishing the reach. I pull enough line from my reel to make the cast I want, and then I pause. A feeling comes over me. I’m at a real risk of a first cast fish. What should I do?
I’ve asked several of my fishing buddies and a couple guides. They all give credence to the “First Cast Curse.” Many anglers believe that if you catch a fish on your first cast, then the rest of your day is likely to be a struggle. I figured, since it came into my mind, it may have some power over me. Do I shank it to a bad spot for fish or do I make a good cast?
Counter to the first cast curse is the idea that you have to make the first drift count. The more casts you make to a fish, the more likely you are to spook the fish and not catch anything. I haven’t made a cast and I’m already tangled up, just inside my head instead of with my line.
I decide I’ll make my own fate and make a good cast. The drift is solid and I’m holding my breath. No strikes. Whew! On my third cast, I hook up and land a stocked brown trout. I was fortunate to catch another few fish out of the hole and continued on to have a great rest of the day. I can’t remember ever catching a fish on my first cast, but I have been fishing with folks who have and completely believe in the curse. They swear it is real. Luckily I haven’t had to test it. But it’s definitely on my mind when I walk out to the stream.
I’m not overly superstitious, but I am uncertain about the first catch curse. I hesitated to cast after I waded into a great position on a great run. Are you superstitious? Is the curse real?