Knowing how hard it is to find fish, entice them with some kind of artificial meal, and then land them, I try to prepare ahead of time and get things right. Before my trip to fish CC Bay yesterday I: went over the boat and gear from top to bottom, carefully set the drags, inspected the line and leader, found that the leader I had used in the prior outing was chafed at the tackle end ... and where the fish's tail had contacted it 6-7' upstream, and replaced it. All systems go. A couple friends (Paul and Kil) accepted a very late invite and drove overnight to make the 4:45 a.m. departure. The winds were higher than forecast and my 22'-er doesn't make great headway in four foot seas so it took 90 minutes to make the fishing-area-du-jour. It took an hour or so to locate a few fish who seemed to be cohabitating with whales and then another half hour or so to get a strike. I was lucky, and it was my rod that got the strike, right beside the boat. As a result, we got an excellent look at what was a good-sized fish--certainly one worth keeping. Kil, ever the optimist, ran for the gaff--still securely stowed, Mistake 1. If the gaff had been more ready, we might have snagged the fish. Paul, quick to help, shouted, "where's your belt"--safe in the bag under the leaning post, Mistake 2. Next there was a first run of about 30 yards while I distracted myself pointing out the gaff and modeling while Paul fixed the belt. Another tug and the fish was gone--pulled hook. It turned out to be one of only a few decent shots at fish--one of those days. At first I chalked it up to the luck of the draw. As I reflected on it, and then looked closely at my lure to see if a hook had bent. I saw a different story. Let me say first that I had already caught a few fish on this lure (photo below). Of the two Owner ST66 treble hooks there were six points--only three had full barbs (photo below), Mistake 3. Just to be clear, this was not a catch-and-release outing. And to add the icing to this cake, this was one of those fish that didn't head for the hills immediately and it wasn't far from the boat for at least 30 seconds. I've asked for, and received, great advice on a harpoon. This would have been the easiest fish in the world to "stick". But have I yet bought one? No--Mistake 4. So the result was that we came back empty handed. If I were to honestly say what happened, we worked hard, cast a lot, and connected with the one fish we were to find on this day. My distraction at unleashing the gaff and putting on the belt probably led to a momentary slack line and the lack of barbs on half the points sealed the deal. I got the result that should be expected given that I left the last 5 percent of preparation to chance. Now I'm wondering what else I haven't learned, the hard way, to prepare for.