Do you like surprises?
Have you ever planned things out and then found out God had other plans for your day? Today I caught the second largest catfish of my life-time, but, it was not the way I had planned it! We often plan things out based on our past experiences.
About a month ago I caught a twenty-two pounder, (the largest fish I have caught here at Oak Lake , so far). A week ago I landed a nine pounder. Over the years I have lived here in Tennessee I have caught about a dozen large catfish. These big fish are really fun to catch as they take quite awhile to get to shore.
Each time I go down to the lake I wonder what will take the bait I offer. There are always surprises! Some days it is only bluegill. Other days I catch shellcrackers and bass. I almost always catch turtles that seem to like the same bait as the fish. The turtles and most of the fish go back in the lake to catch again. I keep a few of the bluegill for cut bait to augment the worms I bring with me. I most commonly catch the big fish on the pieces of bluegill, but on this day I was surprised to see my small “bluegill pole” and reel whizzing as a huge fish almost pulled it into the lake. Once I grabbed the pole I knew it wasn’t a little bluegill or even a large turtle by how the line went zipping off while the drag setting was stripping off line. I knew I had to be careful since I only had ten pound test line on this reel. I usually target the catfish with my larger casting rigs baited up with bluegill. Today the monster decided a night crawler was to its taste.
My mind reminded me from past experiences to keep the tip up and bring in line whenever it went slack. When possible I reeled in as much line as I could, but I had to let the fish use up its energy before attempting a landing. As the fish came closer to shore it made another run. I just had to be patient and keep redirecting the tip of the pole in the direction I wanted the fish to go to keep it away from the many hazards that might break the line. Eventually the fish tired and I brought it near the shore where I could attempt to scoop it up in my large fishing net. It decided it didn’t want to give up the fight yet and again it ran away from shore. Finally I got the net far enough under the fish for it to drop below the rim and I was able to hall it to shore. Next, I took my fish gripper and inserted it into its mouth so I could remove the hook and walk back away from the shore to measure and weigh it. I didn’t want to keep it out of the water too long so I quickly pulled out the tape measure and found it to be 32 inches long. I next used my electronic scale to find it weighed in at twenty pounds. I took a couple pictures with my phone and then hurried back to the lake where I held it in the water while I stroked its sides and pulled it back and forth to get the oxygen flowing through its gills to stimulate movement. When it finally showed life I released it directing it to deeper water watching it slowly move off into the middle of the lake.
As I returned to my fishing chair I put away my weighing scale and other items. I sat back and breathed in the air and thanked God’s for a great day of fishing. I pondered all the fish that I had caught that day and the fun of feeding my friend Snappy, the large snapping turtle that often pops up near the shore looking for a chunk of bluegill. He had eaten close to three fish so far. I remembered how he had grabbed a water snake just last week that was trying to steal the pieces of fish I was feeding him. Talk about surprises! I was amazed at how quickly he had snapped out and grabbed the snake just behind its head. I had watched in wonder as the snake coiled around the turtle’s body in a vain attempt to escape. It took about twenty minutes for the turtle to eat the whole snake, snapping off pieces and swallowing them down his throat. It’s amazing how much a turtle can consume in a day. I guess they take advantage of every opportunity.
“Live and Let Live”.
I also watched as a muskrat swam by with reeds in its mouth apparently building a nest in the bank under a cottonwood tree on the shore. What an amazing pleasure to get to see all the wildlife around our small lake here in our neighborhood. So many kinds of birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects and other creatures thriving in this ecosystem so near my house. I often see a kingfisher flapping its wings while hovering over the water, then sweeping its wings back as it dives into the water to emerge with a fish in its mouth. It then flies to a limb of a nearby tree to enjoy its catch or returns to its nest to feed its young. There are also the egrets and great blue herons that stand on their long stilt-like legs waiting for passing fish to stab with their long sharp bills. Once stabbed their necks sweep up and their beaks open to catch and swallow the fish whole. I’m not the only one fishing here. We also have a resident bald eagle and a couple osprey around the lake. I occasionally see the smaller green herons fly by, but more often just hear their raspy squawking sounds as they communicate with others of their kind. If you just sit quietly and listen you can hear bullfrogs and their smaller neighbors, tree frogs, peepers and even a frog that sounds almost like a sheep bleating. Dragonflies and damselflies come by often landing on the end of my fishing poles. Beautiful butterflies flutter around often landing on the moist ground near the water’s edge to absorb the water and minerals from the soil. Some even land on your arms to suck up the salt from your sweat. Watch out for the mosquitoes and gnats that want more than salt! Though the females want your blood to nourish their eggs they also become food for the dragonflies, fish and many other creatures that live around the lake. I don’t mind swatting a few in that they also are potential vectors of disease. For the most part, it is “live and let live”, a good mind set for those of us that love the outdoors.
THE MOST SURPRISING TRUTH!
If you take some time to sit and ponder what is around you it doesn’t take long for you to find something surprising. If you think you have things all figured out you will soon see that you really don’t. The only One who does is God in heaven. He is not only the Creator but also the Sustainer. He definitely has a plan for your life as He does mine. He enjoys bringing surprises to us that demonstrate His greatness and love.
I Corinthians 2:9
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for those who love him.”