Praise the Lord, O my soul...
who satisfies your desires
with good things
so that your youth is renewed
like the eagle's.
Oh the winter doldrums! Cabin fever had set in bad. The Holidays were nice but this year they were absent of any outdoor activity. I hadn't made it outside for any fishing or hunting or even a walk through our rural neighborhood. After New Years it was back to work and the rain started up and kept our river systems blown out for three weeks.
I was starting to get really peeved. Steelhead season is passing me by and I hadn't even had the chance to get out and make a cast. Resignation set in,
This sucks. I guess I won't get out much this year. Last year was horrible too. I wonder why God is letting this happen? I mean I know that he knows how much I love to get out there. I'm so tired of work and being home. I should have egg goo under my nails and callouses from rowing the driftboat but instead I have dishpan hands.....soft and smooth.....like a woman. Argh!
Then it happened. We had a string of dry days and the rivers came back into shape. Dad and I took a day off of work and floated one of our favorite rivers on the north coast. It was an amazing day....just what I had been needing.
We dropped the driftboat off a steep bank and lowered it down by rope to the waters edge in the early morning light. Only two other boats were putting in which meant we would have good access to our favorite holes. The water was still a little high and slightly off color but very fishable. The morning anticipation kicked in, the smell of fresh coastal air, the brisk breeze on my face...It was all so familiar and had been so missed.
I didn't have to wait long either. In the first hole we anchored up to make a few casts while we waited for the boat ahead of us to work a ways down river. The guys behind us were still putting in so we had a few minutes to let the boats get spread out. About my 3rd or 4th cast upstream at a 45 degree angle I feel my line drift its way downstream, tap.....tap......tap.....my pencil lead bounces about every 6 feet on the river bottom. As my drift nears the end, now a 45 degree angle downstream I feel a familiar but suprising nibble....tug....nibble. BAM! I set the hook and what happened next could be described as an explosion from beneath the surface as a chrome torpedo blasts out of the water, twists and turns for a split second and then crashes back down into the previously calm tailout.
"Woa!" dad says, "Take your time with that one, its a big fish." As those words exit his mouth I am already thumbing my drag a bit, afraid the big steelhead is going to leave the hole and head down the next set of rapids. I'm able to stop him and get him turned sideways in the current. But he is big and wants to hang out right on the bottom of the river. Over the next 10 minutes I slowly work him to the surface and gain a little bit on him. Then he makes a run and we have to start all over. For the next 5 minutes it is a back and forth battle which I am slowly gaining on. However, I am worried. Because my experience with big steelhead is that there seems to be a time limit and if you give a big steelhead long enough he will find a way to get off the hook. But this one is different and dad keeps reminding me to just take it easy, he'll get tired. Dad is right of course but 10 lb leader and my best knots get tired too! Eventually he did get tired and with some good teamwork dad slid the net under him, I pulled the hook out, hoisted him for a few quick pictures and then returned the brute to the river to continue his journey.
Gasp! Thank you Lord for the beautiful morning and for the spectacular fish. Thank you for caring enough about me to re-energize me with this kind of blessing. The kind of blessing that really nurtures my soul.
Dad went on to catch 3 more steelhead that day and we had a few that got away as well. Not a bad way to start the 2010 season.
You know it is kind of funny as I reflect on how God uses the outdoors to nurture and speak to me, it is amazing that God always knows just what I need and He provides. I was reflecting back on my journals from about 4 years ago on a conversation my buddies and I were having about what makes us come alive. We had been going through a "Band of Brothers" DVD series from Ransomed Heart and the discussion was about how our place or our calling in Gods kingdom is written in on our hearts in the form of desire. So the question, "What makes you come alive?" can lead you into the arena of your calling.
What I had written down in my journal under "What makes me come alive?" and what I shared with my friends was, "Helping and encouraging men and boys. And being outdoors, fishing, hunting and camping." Four years later hear we are with Faith in the Field and it feels like God is giving me the desires of my heart. I'm not totally sure where He is leading this, but I know He is in this. So I plan to enjoy the ride and hope you'll come along with us on this adventure.