Bass fishing is a scientist's worst nightmare...
When scientist setup their experiment they always have to take into account the different variables. Throughout the experiment scientist only want to have one variable change each time they perform the experiment. This allow them to explain exactly how and why the outcome was effected. Bass fishing doesn't play by these rules!
As we look at the recap of getting my butt whooped at this past week's BFL on Norris, let's look at the parallels to our Christian walk.
..."Our biggest lessons are learned through our struggles, not our successes."
So, lets get back to the whole variable thing...the first day of practice began with air temps in the upper teens and winds blowing 15-25mph. I spent most of the day cleaning ice from my reel and guides. I put in at Anderson County Park and focused my search in the Cove Creek area on the Powell side of Norris. I caught a keeper largemouth early on a 300 series bandit and then the day slowed until about noon. The water temp was hovering around 48 degrees so I moved to some clear water and picked up a hair fly and went in search of smallies. I quickly picked up two keeper smallmouth and then began to build on that pattern. As the day progressed, I caught several more bass on the hair fly and finished out my limit around 3pm. My limit of bass went between 15-16 lbs., so I was feeling good about the start of the week. Now keep in mind those variables. Wednesday's conditions were low of 19 , high of 38, mostly sunny, and winds 15-25mph.
Day 2 of practice began with even colder temps! (which I didn't think was possible after Wednesday) The morning low was a balmy 12 degrees and calm winds. The fog that formed that morning created a film of ice on everything that lay exposed. For day 2 I moved my search the Brogan's area on the Clinch side in hopes of nailing down a largemouth pattern to be a backup to the smallmouth I had found the day before. (largemouth only have to be 14 inches and smallmouth have to be 18 inches on Norris) As the day progressed and slowly warmed I was able to catch some bass on a crankbait and the fly. The only issue was the fact that I was still in a mix of largemouth and smallmouth and not all the largemouth were not long enough to keep, so I headed even further up the river to find dirtier water. I found some great looking pockets with water coming in the backs, but I didn't find many fish. I finished day 2 of practice with three keepers for about 6 lbs.
...here is where my decision making began to fall apart...
On Friday, the final day of practice I was greeted with morning lows above freezing and I made a long run to the "Lost Sea" before day break. As the sun was coming up I caught a short smallmouth on a Keitech and a keeper smallmouth on the hair fly. With the smallmouth bite still looking solid I headed back up into the Clinch River to find some largemouth. (I should have gone back to Cove Creek and located some largemouth areas there) Towards the end of the day I finally found a few largemouth paralleling the bank with a red Shad Rap. Winds were steady around 10mph Friday with mostly overcast skies.
My game plan...
The game plan was to make the 50 minute run to Cove Creek in the morning and fish for Smallmouth and then come back up the Clinch to fish for Largemouth in the afternoon. The mistake I made was when I looked at my phone on Saturday morning and saw that there was going to be no wind until 11am, I didn't adjust my plan. (I needed wind and sun for the smallmouth bite.) So when I made the long run Saturday to Cove Creek there was absolutely no wind and the fog was so thick that you couldn't see from one side of the channel to the other. I caught two smallmouth in one area, but both were 17 3/4 inches. At 10:30am I panicked since there was still dense fog and no wind. I left and headed back up the Clinch River. Over the course of the remaining day, I caught four more bass on the shad rap, but none of them would keep. I ended the tournament with a zero and dug myself a whole in the point standings.
The variables were all changing throughout the week. We went from morning lows in the teens to a low on Saturday of 47 degrees. The high Wednesday was 37 and the high Saturday was 67. We went from high winds to no wind and then on Saturday we went from no wind in the AM to white capping swells in the PM.
...in hindsight, I should have paid attention to those variables more. I should have stayed up in the Clinch and fished for largemouth until the fog lifted and the wind picked up. Then made the long run to Cove Creek. Lesson Learned!!!
But now on the relationship to our Christian walk...
When things are going right for us in life and we are finding success, it is very easy for us to become comfortable with the status quo and we forget to examine ourselves and look at areas we need to improve. We like to focus on what we are doing right and the parts of our Christian life that are strong, but that does not lead to growth. God allows tests and tribulations into our lives that force us to struggle and show us that we cannot control all the "variables". When we realize our need for God and Jesus Christ as our savior, it is only then that we truly grow as individuals. So often we measure ourselves based on rank at the work place, how much we own, results at a bass fishing tournament, or etc.. If the measuring stick that you are using for your life is an earthly one, then YOU HAVE THE WRONG MEASURING STICK. Life is not about trophies on your mantel or the number of zeros on your paycheck. Our lives are meant to glorify a righteous and holy God, and that can only happen when you allow Christ to live through you and lead you into serving others. Please don't miss the big picture! Measure yourself against God's Word and His standards...nothing else. Take in His creation and be appreciative and thankful for every breath you take. The Bible tells us that "life is but a vapor", it s here one moment and gone the next. Allow God to use your life to minister and serve. Find the gifts and passions that God has given you and use those to glorify Him!
While this week didn't turn out the way that I wanted, I had the opportunity to experience God's creation everyday, spend a week with family and friends that are dear to me, and get to know a total stranger in the back of my boat. Those are the blessings of this week. I will learn from this struggle as a fisherman, but I am thankful for every second of this week as a Christian!
See you on the Water,