Lessons Learned from a Deep Sea Fisherman

Of course I admit to being prejudiced, but I have some of the world’s coolest relatives, and among them is my brother-in-law, Frank. (In this photo, he’s part of a floating parade themed on the explorers who discovered the Californian coast, although he doesn’t usually dress in velvet for his fishing trips.  🙂  )

Frank’s been fishing since he was four, back in the days when his dad had a dairy farm close to the Sacramento River. For the past 50+ years, he’s fallen in love with deep sea fishing, and he says there isn’t anything in the world that brings him closer to nature than being miles out in the ocean, breathing pure air and surrounded by nothing but sky and sea.  I’ve never been deep sea fishing, so I decided to ask Frank it he’d share a few of his experiences with us in conjunction with thinking about Jesus’s commands: “Launch out into the deep for a draught” and “Fear not.”Because, I’m convinced that even though we are often afraid to launch out, God usually blesses us with an amazing “catch,” just as he did for the disciples. So, what are some of the lessons I learned from talking to Frank? I’m going to mention what I learned about fishing, but I’ve also been having fun thinking about spiritual parallels between catching “fish” and what it might take to become a “fisher of men.” If you think of anything as you read this list, I’d love to hear your thoughts!*You have to be willing to get up way earlier than normal people need to, even when it’s cold and wet and dark out! (I remember Frank getting up at 4:00 a.m. to take his young son out salmon fishing on Saturdays.) *You have to watch the weather and water conditions constantly and make sure your boat is mechanically sound so it can handle the trip and withstand any unexpected storms. *You always need to have radio communication with the Coast Guard in case you need rescue, which did happen to Frank once when he was 14 miles out. His boat quit unexpectedly in really rough water and had drifted to within a quarter of a mile of some deadly rocks. Frank’s uncle had drowned just the year before, so he was extremely thankful that the Coast Guard was able to rescue him in time!  *It takes a lot of love and work to share your experiences with others, but it’s worth the cost, because that’s what it’s all about! Frank’s scariest adventure was when he had taken a group of 13 friends 27 miles out from the Golden Gate to fish near the Farollones Islands and a vicious storm blew up. (The photo above is not from this trip.) Everybody was so seasick that they couldn’t do anything to help but throw up (which wasn’t really helpful), so he tucked them all inside while he and his (double-lifejacketed) eight-year-old son wrestled to keep the boat upright. Despite their best efforts, the boat rolled over, and he thought she was going down and they’d all drown. Thankfully, the boat righted itself, and although they lost all 13 rods and reels and their 3 tackle boxes, everybody survived to tell about it!*It’s a lot more fun to fish with friends, but it’s also almost impossible alone if you’re doing something complicated, like crabbing.*If you want to catch anything—be it fish or crabs or shrimp—you have to go where they are! Frank’s longest trip was a 5-week cruise up the coast to Alaska and back in search of crabs and shrimp.   *You have to use different types of bait depending on what you want to catch. You can troll for salmon with anchovies or a lure called a “watermelon.” Rock cod like squid, but you  have to use a small, round weight and bounce the weight off the bottom, because rock cod swim near the bottom. *Crabs like any kind of meat that smells bad. Frank saves the guts, heads, and skeletons of his fish for bait, although crabs also like chicken parts and squid. *Crabs live about 200′ deep in the ocean, so after the crab pots are baited, they are lowered with 230′ of line and 2 floats about 8-10′ apart to mark the spot.*Frank uses his GPS to retrieve his pots, and if he doesn’t have enough weight on his traps, they can be caught in currents and carried away so that he never finds them again.*Also, sometimes people find his crab pots and steal the crabs when he’s not there. 😦  *It’s not  unusual for Frank (and his crabbing buddies) to fight 10-12′ waves while trying to pull up the traps. He has a big crab pot retriever and a hook to help lift the pots into his boat.*There will be some unforgettably wonderful experiences if you persevere in fishing. Frank’s all-time favorite memory of deep sea fishing was a trip back in August of 1977 with his friend Bill. It was a perfect day, and when they were 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, he hooked a 58.5 pound yellow fin tuna. It took him 2 hours and 40 minutes to reel in that beautiful baby!*As a last reflection, Frank said that fishing is great, and catching fish is a thrill, but the greatest thrill of all is just going fishing, whether or not you catch anything!*However, just like Jesus blessed his disciples with a huge catch, if we’re willing to follow Jesus, we’ll probably have many wonderful experiences where we are visibly rewarded for all our hard work!                                                  Ready to go fishing?

And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” (Luke 5:10, maybe even some crabby ones!  🙂  )