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The Magic of the Gray Lady

Her luck was here then gone

            My second cast was intercepted, and the small rod arced hard over. Through the thin line I could feel the shakes of a fish with some definite weight, several ounces at least. The big perch were finally back in residence along the rocky shallows.

            Having forgotten my net in my haste to get an early start, I steeled myself for a pulled hook as I eased the fish up. It looked to be a good one, and I was relieved when it finally flopped down on the deck.

            A hair under 11 inches is a good size to start with, I thought, as I deposited the fish in my aerated live bucket. If it proved the only keeper, I wanted to be able to release it none the worse for wear. A single perch, even a big one, doesn’t make much of a meal, and I’d been disappointed a number of times this season.

            I needn’t have worried. Within short order, two more black-backs were in the bucket keeping the first company.

            Then the bite went cold. Moving on to the next jetty I got a few more throwbacks. Then it went cold again.

            I had been fishing my always dependable silver-bladed bright yellow-and-orange Mepps spinner bait. When I switched outfits for one rigged with a chartreuse model, I got a couple more junior releases, then again, nothing. Weird, I thought, conditions are beautiful.

            Reaching for the last of my outfits pre-rigged with yet another model spin bait, I noticed the lure was damaged. All of the finish had been chipped off the body, leaving only the dull gray metal exposed. Its brass spinner blade was tarnished as well.

            I had rarely found any lures superior to the ones I had just used. But was Lady Luck toying with me? Tempting me now with this used and abused dull-gray lure?

            It won’t hurt anything to try it for a few casts, I thought. I plucked the outfit from the rack and sent the bait flying over the water. Two turns of the reel’s handle was all it took for an answer. My rod lunged over. Another battle was on.

            A fish on every cast is an overused phrase, but on that dull beauty I got at least three fish to every four or five casts, with a generous percentage of big keepers. For me, a keeper white perch is anything over nine-and-a-half inches. It makes a nice thick frying fillet, and the fact that only one out a dozen or more perch is of that size makes the day interesting.

            Within another hour I had 12 perch up to 12 inches finning about in the live bucket.

            Always suspicious when it comes to luck, I put away the suddenly deadly outfit and retrieved my earlier rig with the old standby lure. The bite went back to nothing. Throwing the newly dubbed Gray Lady again resulted in unabated fish attacks. Uncanny.

            The following morning, fishing another location, I bagged a thick 10-inch white perch on the first cast. Then I promptly lost the Gray Lady to a submerged rock pile.

            Lady Luck is ever fickle.