The “Bass Bait Bummer”

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The “Bass Bait Bummer”

James R. Aist

“Things aren’t always as they seem.” – Carl Hurley, Kentucky humorist

This is a true “fish story”, I swear it! By that I mean this really happened, believe me.

I was in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin at the time, and my wife and I decided to take a summer vacation of hiking, canoeing and fishing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area just north of the Wisconsin border. I was an avid fisherman and couldn’t wait to get my “hooks” into a monster muskie up there. With eager anticipation, I brought along a light-weight, collapsible gig (a three-pronged spear, as it were) just in case the muskie was too big to land with my light-weight fishing line. As you will see, that scenario developed alright, just not as I had expected.

We launched our canoe at the first lake and portaged from the end of that lake to the second lake.  There I decided to fish for an hour or so before we pitched our tent and retired for the night. It was a bit windy, so we were going to have to paddle upwind, fish as the wind drove us back, and repeat, repeatedly. It was a small lake with a bluff and weed bed on the far side, and I surmised that, if there were any muskies to be had, they would be lurking in or near the weed bed. So we launched the canoe, and I started fishing as we paddled toward the weed bed. To my surprise, on the second cast I had the most powerful strike ever! This fish fought harder and longer than any other fish I had ever hooked. I could tell that it wasn’t a muskie when it surfaced, and it wasn’t a large-mouth bass either. When I got it landed, I could see that it was a good-sized, small-mouth bass. That’s when I had a vision of frying it for dinner that night! After hooking this fish onto my stringer and lowering it into the water to keep it alive for later, we continued to paddle toward the weed bed.

When we were sufficiently upwind and near the weed bed, I began casting toward the weed bed as we drifted downwind, pulling the bass along in the water as we went. I got 4-5 casts in before we had to paddle upwind again, with no muskie. Each time we drifted downwind to fish, the bass would get tangled up in a few weeds, so we had to pause to free it. After the third pass alongside the weed bed without any sign of a muskie, I noticed that the bass had gotten entangled by a clump of weeds much wider and longer than before. So we paused once more to free up the bass, and that’s when I took a closer look at the clump of weeds. Suddenly, it occurred to me that this was not a clump of weeds at all. It was a huge muskie, about three feet long, that had chomped down on the bass we were dragging in the water! I was shocked, and it took me a few moments to figure out what to do next, without spooking the muskie and causing him to release the bass. I wanted to land both of them, but how could I possibly get the muskie in the boat without spooking him?

Well, that’s when I remembered the gig I had brought with me. Perhaps I could spear him with it and lift him in. So I began to carefully and quietly assemble the pieces of the shaft. Then I leaned carefully over the edge of the canoe, lowered the gig slowly into the water, aligned the business end of the gig over the back fin of the muskie, and, with all my might, I jabbed at him violently. At first I thought I had him, because I saw the gig strike him squarely and shake him. But, alas and alack, it was only a glancing blow. The muskie gently released his grip on the bass, and we slowly drifted away from him until he was too far away for me to try again. “Dagnabbit”, I said to myself, “I almost had him, and that would have made such a great fish story”!

Unfortunately, that was my one and only encounter with a muskie on that trip. But, on the upside, the bass made a delicious dinner for the two of us that night. And, just in case you were wondering…yes, the bass had the tell-tale pattern of muskie tooth marks on both sides. Now that was impressive!

(To read more of my short stories, click HERE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we launched our canoe

The Other Fisherman

The Other Fisherman

James R. Aist

Introduction

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1:17). That sounds like an exciting adventure, doesn’t it? But there is another fisherman, a sinister one, lurking about on the earth, also fishing for people…people like you and me! Maybe you have already had a run-in with him. If you have, what can you do about it? Let’s find out about this “other” fisherman.

Fishing for Fish

Think with me, for a moment, about how we fish for fish. We load a hook with attractive and “delicious” bait. Then, we cast our line into a place where there are, hopefully, hungry fish looking for something to eat. A fish notices the bait, and it looks like it might be good to eat. So, he swims over to it, getting close enough to confirm that it probably would be good to eat. Next, he takes just a little nibble, to get a taste. Finding that it does, indeed, taste good, he opens wide and takes the whole bait, hook and all. As he begins to swim away and prepares to enjoy his bite of food, there is a sudden and violent tug, and a sharp hook becomes inextricably embedded in the flesh of his mouth. It hurts terribly, so he struggles to swim away and shake the hook loose, but to no avail.

At this point, we have complete control of our snagged fish. We can reel him in quickly if he is in the clear, or we can pull him to the right or to the left to prevent him from swimming into the weeds or a submerged brush pile and getting the line tangled up, making it difficult for us to “land” him. He will go wherever we want him to go, and there’s not a thing he can do about it. Maybe, just for sport, we will “play” with him for a while before landing him, just to see him struggle and “break the water.” But, inevitably, we will capture and secure him. He will still struggle to free himself, but he doesn’t have the strength to get away. Eventually, we will kill and devour him.

Fishing for Men

When Jesus said, “I will send you out to fish for people”, He meant that we would seek those who are “lost’, proclaim to them the “Good News”, and help them to receive the gifts of saving faith and eternal life. This is quite a different and much more desirable outcome than what happened to the fish!

But there is another one in our midst who also fishes for men. This fisherman has in mind just the opposite of what Jesus had in mind. He is to us more like we are to the fish. He loads his hook with attractive bait to lure us close enough to get a better look. When we see that the bait looks good to eat, we take a nibble, just like a fish does. Then, when we find that it tastes good, we go for the whole thing, just as a fish does when he is about to get “hooked.” Once this sinister fisherman has jerked the line to set his hook in us, he has control of us. He can pull us in any direction he wants us to go, just like a fish on our line. And, he can force us to go wherever he wants us to go. When he has gotten his jollies by “playing” with us, he reels us all the way in and takes us captive. Try as we may, we cannot, under our own power, free ourselves. Eventually, he will devour us, just like we devour the fish we catch.

Foiling the Other Fisherman

How can we protect ourselves from this sinister fisherman, the devil? First, we can learn about his wily ways by reading the relevant passages in the Bible. This will help us to not be fooled by either the bait (temptations) he casts our way or by the deceitful thoughts [e.g., “Did God really say, ‘You must not…” (Genesis 3:1)] that he puts into our minds. Second, we can make sure that we are submitting ourselves to God; then, we can “resist the devil and he will flee from us.” (James 4:7). Third, like Jesus, we can command him, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). And fourth, if he does manage to get his hooks into us, then we can repent, come to our senses, and escape the “snare” of the devil (2 timothy 2:26)! So, let’s keep our guard up and send this sinister fisherman packing with an empty creel!

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)

 

An Ocean Experience

Coquillages à Fadiouth, SénégalAn Ocean Experience

By Angie Brown, Guest Author

The sight of the ocean slamming against the barrier and licking the sand in its hungry reach was fascinating.  I remember walking along Carolina Beach many years ago and marveling at such a vast body of water. I was so close to it, yet safe on solid ground.

When I looked far out to the horizon, as far as I could see, I could hardly believe that I was seeing only part of it, it was so immense.  Just beyond where the ocean meets the sky, I could see the roundness of the earth, betraying the earth’s spherical shape.   There was nothing to obscure the view of endless sky over endless water.  Both were awe-inspiring and breathtaking.  I would often sit on the large rocks on shore, silently observing the awesome power of the ocean as it crashed into the boulders and bluffs at water’s edge. Suddenly, I saw a school of whales performing their acrobatics far from the shore, leaping out of the water and splashing violently back into it, one after another.  I could only wonder where they came from and where they were going. The whole experience left me spellbound.

The next day, I set about to experience the ocean in other, more interactive ways. First, I decided to try my luck at fishing. With a little help from the pros, I began to cast my line for fish.  They promised me that I would catch some fish, and, sure enough, I did! While I may not have broken any length or weight records, these were my fish, and I was proud of my results! After that, I went hunting for sea shells on the beach. Before long, my plastic bag was bulging with the many shells that I found on the sand after the waves had washed over the shore during high tide. What a beautiful assortment of shapes, sizes and colors I had collected! I thought to myself, “These will make perfect souvenirs to remind me of my visit to the beach.”

My trip to the ocean was an interesting and memorable adventure for me. And, how grateful I was to have had an opportunity to experience, first-hand, some of the natural wonders that my Creator provided for me to enjoy! I couldn’t wait for my next opportunity to go to the beach and enjoy another ocean experience.

(For more articles by Angie Brown, click HERE)