Earl A. Jones, Ed.D.

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The One That Did Not Get Away

This is a Long Form Blog Post that I will Publish in Four Parts.

Part 1

A True Fish Tale

I am going to tell you a True Fish Tale. This one, unlike all of the other fishermen who tell these tales is … one hundred percent (100%) true! No really! Now, who can account for memory? After all, it was a few years ago …

It started when I went on my first Tuna Charter Fishing Trip. It was a great trip. All of my fishing brothers got sea sick, as usual with this group. Although they swear they never get sea sick … except for every time. The Atlantic Ocean was very rough that morning, in their defense. 

So, by the time the first bites began to come in I was the only one who was upright and not below in the cabin with his head hanging over a bucket. I caught one Mahi Mahi. The First Mate and I had to drag the other guys out of bed to catch some other fish including a huge Mackerel. 

The One That Should Have Never Gotten Away

But this story is about The One That Should Never Have Gotten Away. During that trip I had another, much larger Mahi Mahi on the line. This was ocean fishing and without getting into the intricacies of fishing, we were not fishing “wrecks.” Thus we were not just dragging the fish up off of the bottom of the ocean, while they were feeding near the sunken debris which provides cover for the fish that we were trying to catch. 

This was “back trolling” for larger ocean fish who feed on passing schools of smaller fish. Relative to the type of fishing that we were doing, I was supposed to “keep this fish down”, as opposed to just setting the hook and reeling the fish up from the bottom, as is done when wreck fishing.

When you are trying to “keep a fish down”, you are essentially trying to ensure that you reel in enough slack in the line, while the fish, of course, tries to get away or get off of your hook. The fish does this by either swimming really quickly toward the boat and occasionally jumping in the air. Or they try to swim away from the boat, which makes it easier to keep the line tight, ensuring no slack develops in the fishing line. When there is slack in the line, it is easier for a jumping fish to “throw the hook.” This is where the fish instinctively attempts to dislodge the hook from its mouth and swim away. It is actually a game of precision.

When reeling the fish in, you are trying not to “horse” the fish, by reeling too hard because you can just pull the hook from the fish. However, you are also trying not to give the fish too much leeway or “drag” so the fish can create slack and “throw the hook.” You accomplish this by reeling just hard enough to ensure that the fish remains underwater as much as possible, while it tires itself out. Then you can easily reel it in to the boat. You use the water as counter pressure in order to tire the fish out. If it jumps, it has a greater chance of “throwing the hook” and getting away.

This one got away … 

But it was not supposed to get away …

The First Mate kept telling me to “keep it down”, “keep the slack out”, “don’t let it run on you”, and “don’t let it jump.” But “if it jumps, cut the slack and keep the line tight.”

Prior to that Tuna Fishing trip, most recently I had fished wrecks. As such, I could just set the hook and reel them in. This made it a lot easier to keep the line tight. And when the fish jumped it was because I had brought it up from the bottom and was bringing it into the boat. However, those are typically much smaller fish. These are large fish and they fight like crazy, as well they should, not to get caught.

Again, this one got away …

But it should not have gotten away …

At least not according to me. I caught a nice sized Mahi Mahi, but I lost a much larger one. I let the proverbial “one that got away”, run at the boat … and then jump … and then throw the hook. I was not able to keep the fish down under the water and use the water to create counter pressure on the fish. I tried to reel the fish, too often, as if I was just trying to drag it in from the bottom of the ocean. 

Different situations … 

Call for different tactics …

Elisha & The Shunemite Woman

I told that little 100% True Fish Tale because it reminded me of a situation that I have recently encountered and a Bible Story that became quite instructive for me as it pertained to me finding my way out of a confusing situation and into a positive conclusion. Now if that above fish tale was not true, I would have caught the larger fish and at worse I would have missed the smaller Mahi Mahi. Then again, this story is actually about The One That Did Not Get Away …

In the Bible Book of Second Kings Chapter four, it tells a story of a woman that Elisha the Prophet met when he passed through the town of Shunem which was located in the territory allotted to the Children of Issachar (2 Kings 4:8-37, NLT). When the itinerate Prophet Elisha passed through Shunem, this wealthy woman urged him to come to her home and have something to eat. She must have been an excellent cook and a gracious hostess, because every subsequent trip through Shunem, Elisha and his servant Gehazi would stop at her home to have something to eat.

The lady said to her husband that she knew that this man was a Holy Man of God or a Prophet of God. She suggested to her husband that they should build him a room on the roof of their home, which was a “thing” back in that day. They built the spare bedroom on the roof of the house. She also suggested putting a lamp, table, and bed in the room for him to be able to not only eat at their home but also so the Man of God could have a place to rest when he passed through town. A home away from home. The husband agreed and so they did.