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Vigil: After a long day, the fish brought excitement

Vigil: After a long day, the fish brought excitement

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Ice-fishing season keeps getting delayed with warm weather creating unsafe ice.

I couldn’t wait any longer and took a chance on ice I found that was inconsistent but solid enough across most of the pond.

A friend and I went out early in the morning and moved from spot to spot without much success.

We had both committed to an all-day excursion and drilled new holes at different locations through the long day. A couple of small bluegills happened to accidentally run into our hooks, but by about 4 o’clock, we were pretty much out of options.

As I pondered whether to be the first to say “uncle” on the day, I noticed a blip on my fish finder.

The fish came up from the bottom and took a look at the jig and wax worm a half-a-dozen times before finally latching on to it.

I was hoping for a nice crappie or panfish, but when I set the hook, I knew this was something big.

The short ice rod dipped down toward the hole and the line came spinning off the reel. I had set the drag — which allows the fish to pull out line without breaking it — loose enough and the reel whirred as the fish tried to pull away.

My friend saw I was onto something large and he jokingly said, “Should I bring the net?”

The fish would run away with some line and I’d reel him back in a little at a time.

He’d run again, and back and forth we went for several minutes.

During the battle, the rubber reel holders on my fishing rod slipped off and I was holding the reel in my hand. The friend was next to me by that time, and he helped me slip the reel back into place. We laughed as the fish took off again and again.

He must have gotten tired enough for me to get him to the hole. I was correct in that the fish was a very large catfish. I managed to get his head up through the hole and my friend grabbed the fish with his hands and pulled it onto the ice.

It was a great fight and we took several pictures of a 10-pound catfish, the biggest of that species I’ve caught through the ice or open water fishing.

There were some interesting things I thought about as we removed the hook from its mouth.

When we are trying to make positive changes in our lives, we often look for something dramatic that will impact us. Our society has set us up for failure by telling us it requires a miracle of some kind to bring success in any aspect.

All day long I fished with a panfish jig — sometimes changing colors — trying to entice a fish to eat. We were out from 8:30 a.m. until about 4:30 p.m. with barely a nibble or two.

Success in fishing is often measured by how many or how big a fish one catches.

Whatever goals we set for our lives, it is good to set the sights high. I hoped for a bucketful of panfish to fill my freezer.

On Dec. 31, I finished reading through the Bible in one year, cover to cover. It was the second year in a row I accomplished the goal I set at the end of the previous year.

But it didn’t happen in just one day. I didn’t start and finish the same day.

I started on Jan. 1 and each day I read a set number of scriptures. In the morning before I started each day, I drank my coffee and read from God’s Word.

Halfway through the year I wondered if I was ever going to get to the end. I often found a nugget of wisdom to add to my life, but there were also many days when the inspiration I anticipated didn’t happen.

During the fishing excursion, there were a few times when a blip would cross the screen on my fish finder.

At those moments, my heart beat a little faster and I gained some joy and inspiration to keep at it for a little longer.

The same with learning what God wants for our lives — it isn’t poured into us from a fire hose. God gives us what we need in portions that are filling, but not overwhelming.

Once in a while, we garner a lightning bolt that God gives us to inspire us to continue searching.

At the end of my fishing day, I got that burst of excitement that will bring me back another day to try catching fish again.

The most important aspect of life is persistence in striving for the goals we set for ourselves. We can’t wait until life is out of control to work on us and then pray for a miracle to do what we could have done in little bites day by day.

Keep fishing day by day. Don’t give up.

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