Recently we one of our favourite lakeside walks. There are lots of trees and bushes of all different sorts; swans, geese and ducks swim on the lake as well of plenty of evidence around the banks of animal activity although we have not seen the animals. At intervals the whole way round are clearings – some with small decks – that are used by fishermen. It is members only, no day tickets, so each as their own allocated numbered fishing station.
As we were nearing the end of our circuit, there was a fisherman in an open spot who was beginning to pack up for the morning. Seeing that we would not be disturbing vital work we decided to amble over to speak with him. I was curious to know what sort of fish were in the lake as we had never seen any fish although that is possibly because we have never been close to the water’s edge for long enough. This was a man passionate about his hobby and he told us he fished three or four mornings a week mostly. I had expected him to tell us that it was mainly trout. Oh no, nothing so common as that.
There followed at least a 15 minute discussion, by the time we managed to take our leave to get our lunch it had been as interesting as an hour of Spring Watch or some of the other fascinating nature programmes. Just that morning this man had caught two quite large carp and he had the photographs to prove it! He had other photographs with large barbel caught at other times. Each photograph was labelled with the date and other details. He told us that there were also pike in the lake; one particularly large one stayed away from the fishing side in a kind of side stream and it was rather partial to eating ducks – I never knew that pike would eat ducks, and I don’t think I have that sheltered a life! We learned that if you were there early in the morning you might see deer, stoats, otters and on one occasion about three years ago one of his friends had seen a puma. He had only known of it’s existence because it had been a really cold night with ice covered puddles and he had heard the sound of racking ice nearby, There, about six feet away from him was a black puma apparently, he had clapped his hands and it had quickly disappeared.
We left feeling that we had entered a small part of our locality that we had known almost nothing about. I have mixed feelings about angling, I can understand the appeal of whiling away the time by the water’s edge and the excitement of the catch but when told it had taken about 15 minutes to land a large carp I was not sure that the fish had enjoyed it quite as much. We were told it takes much patience to be a successful fisher and I thought the of Jesus and his command that we should be fishers of men. Now that I am enthusiastic about and that too takes patience, just because an outreach attempt does not bring forth disciples within six months does not mean it should be abandoned. It takes time to establish a presence, time to build up trust, time to demonstrate love care and commitment; this requires plenty of patience and just as much prayer. The angler talked of the bait he had used and we have bait as well and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ and nothing is better than that.