I remember the Summer of 1982 because that’s when I first learned how to fish. I had saved up money and purchased a Cardinal reel and an Ugly Stick rod. We lived in Northern Kentucky at the time and I would go down to the river nearly every day and fish. One day I went down to the river-fed creek and followed it back into the woods. I thought I had seen a large fish and was on the hunt. I began to cast and was not having much luck. My dad had told me that fishing took a lot of patience…a LOT. So I just kept casting and coming up empty.
About the time I was ready to give up a man showed up and asked what I was doing. At first, I was nervous because I didn’t have a license but thought I didn’t have to at my age. He wasn’t there to check my license. Instead, he asked where I had learned to fish. I knew, then, that I was doing something wrong.
YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT BAIT. He came up alongside me with his rods, reels, nets, and tackle box. I thought I was in the presence of greatness! He wanted to see what bait I had at the end of the line. I showed him. I was using my newest bait and it was beautiful….to me. The problem was, he explained, was that what was beautiful to me wasn;t to that large mouth bass I was looking for. In fact, if I wanted to catch crappie it would be great. But, if I wanted to catch bass I had to use different bait. He pulled a lure out and showed it to me. He exchanged my lure for his on my line. This was the right bait for the particular fish I wanted to catch.
YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT TECHNIQUE. He encouraged me to cast out again. So I cast the best I could and began to reel in when he stopped me. He showed me a smoother way to cast. He also told me that I was reeling in too fast. Even though fish swim fast, the bait needs to move at a natural speed. I was reeling in so fast that it was useless. So I cast out again and began to reel in slower.
Then it happened.
There was a bite on the other end. I pulled back hard and fast. The man behind me began to laugh as the lure soared over my head and landed on a branch above my head.
YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT TEMPO. I was pulling too fast. If the fish was just nibbling I scared him and me both. If the fish was actually gulping the bait I likely ripped the hook through his mouth. Again, not effective. The man told me that I want to set the hook instead of yanking it back so hard. I need to just pop my wrist a little and then wait. During the reeling in process, I needed to take it slow. It was a dance. I would reel in and let out. All the while, the fish was getting closer to me.
Jesus told Peter to follow Him and he would make him a fisher of men. He is making us fishers of men too. We must learn what I did years ago. We need the right bait to catch a particular fish. Bass, crappie, cat all like different things. I needed to bait my hook with what would attract them. How we present truth does depend on our audience. The way I speak to a 6-year-old is different from a 16-year-old and is different still for a 46-year-old. In the same way, our bait will be different based on to whom you speak. Casting and reeling take practice. So does sharing the Gospel.
Casting and reeling take practice. So does sharing the Gospel. We have to work at the process to find the smooth approach. We want the bait to slip, rather than splashes, in the water. One is inviting and the other is not.
Be patient. People will come and go. Others will nibble. Others will bite. In every instance, be patient.
I went home that day with an 8-lb bass. I have caught many fish since then, but none that big! Keep fishing my friends.