The twelfth time's the charm.
I know it's the twelfth because it wasn't the eleventh. No, it most certainly wasn't the eleventh.
I was trying to remember the right number. I thought, at first, that it's the third time that's the charm, but the third time I only hooked my first White Oak bowfin. It came unbuttoned in a decidedly uncharming tarpon-like cartwheel. So the third time's actually the tease, not the charm. It's the twelfth that's the charm. Yes, now I'm sure of it.
Coincidently, twelve's also lucky. Lucky twelve. Not seven, like many people think. Seven was the second hookup, lost when the beastie folded my 8wt and dove into a tree submerged underneath my kayak. Left me hopelessly hung-up. No, seven's not lucky. Seven's mocking. Mocking Seven. Twelve is the ticket.
All the rest are just numbers. Fruitless days on the water in dogged pursuit. Unable to find fish or unable to make them eat. Musky fishermen know them. Permit and steelhead guys, too. White whale days. It takes an angler with a short memory and a mathematically-challenged, non-quantitative disposition to keep at it. To push through the numbers. To endure those teasing and mocking and empty digits. To summon that long-suffering, analog optimism that defines us as fishermen. Normal folks would just move on to something else, undone by the numbers. For the rest of us there's always tomorrow.
So I'm ready for my Lucky Twelve. My charmed time. It's in the bag. I'm going to get one of those big bowfin the next time out.
Unless I don't. Then maybe it's actually Lucky Thirteen, though somehow that doesn't sound quite right.