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updated: 11/16/2011 4:52 PM

Good luck charms and the international language of angling

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Henri came to the states 20 years ago to broaden his kitchen experience.

"I am one of an ever-growing group of French chefs who refuses to is believe the sun rises and sets on French cuisine," he declared.

Henri also enjoys fishing when he allows himself the time and pleasure to partake. And like others I've encountered, Henri is a bit superstitious, especially when it comes to a day on the water or hours on the shoreline.

Back when our local temps reached levels similar to an African flat plain, Henri met me on a local lake for several hours of bass and panfish.

The boat was already in the water. The tackle was loaded, and the outboard was fueled and ready to go. Everything was set -- except for Henri.

While he was putting on a pair of old track shoes he proceeded to spit on the bottom of each one. He then laced them up. When we got to spot where I knew some big bass hung out, Henri took a salt shaker from his vest and started tossing small handfuls of salt around the boat.

My curiosity pushed me to ask him what was up with the shoe-spitting and salt-tossing?

"Where I come from my friends and I used to perform these little rituals before we started fishing," he explained. I told him I understood, but in reality I didn't put much faith in good luck charms or rituals.

Until Henri outfished me 10 to 1.

Shortly after that experience, I received an e-mail from Norman in Elk Grove, who mentioned how his grandfather and father coached him on outdoors do's and don'ts. The do's pertained to the use of lucky charms, while the don'ts were designed to guide an angler to never forget to use the do's, lest evil and unlucky spirits rule the day.

Norman explained that he always managed to connect with fish when he visited the Fox Chain. In his e-mail he displayed a tiny fish talisman hanging on a thin chain, which also hung around his neck.

On one perch outing to a Chicago harbor for jumbo perch Norman forgot to put on his good luck piece. He came home without a single fish.

On a trip to Sedona, Ariz., I encountered a chap with a roadside table covered in trinkets, Native American ceremonial prayer items, good-luck charms, and other goodies. A line of admirers, all eager to plunk down their dough, stretched from his table down the road about 50 feet.

One chap was wearing a fishing shirt, so I asked him what brought him to the seller. He told me he comes to Sedona twice a year from Phoenix to stock up on items such as those on the table.

And then I admitted to myself that it takes all kinds in this world.

To me this good-luck charm and ritual business sounds a bit far-fetched, but I'll bet a hot dog with the works there are some of you who embrace good luck pieces and allow the spirits within the talisman to guide you through the walkways of life and fishing.

As far as I am concerned I'll just stick with my tried-and-true method of tossing a handful of sand into the water moments before I start the motor.

• Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.

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