Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN-SPR 2018

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 68 of 83 | 69 This is proven by the fact that most of Jesus's disciples were fishermen. If you didn't know that, I will attempt to enlighten you. Scholars may disagree on the exact number, but most believe that at least five of the 12 apostles fished for a living. Other historians raise that number to seven. So, in any case, approximately 50% or more of the inner circle netted fish for a living. That puts you and me in pretty good company. It may be logical to assume that fishing was an extremely popular profession during the time of Jesus and the rule of the Roman empire. In fact, it wasn't. Sure, the folks around the Sea of Galilee did a lot of fishing, but in general, most people of that era were shepherds or farmers. Sheeps and goats were a lot easier to round up than catfish, which were (and still are) common to the Sea of Galilee. Sidenote dear reader: the Sea of Galilee is not really a sea at all. In fact, it's a lake commonly known as Lake Tiberias or Lake Galilee. At 600 feet below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth, and the second lowest lake in the world after the Dead Sea, which is a saltwater lake. With 30 miles of shoreline, Lake Galilee is fairly large, which may be why they called it a sea. It's a total of 64 square miles in area and 13 miles long and about seven miles wide. At any rate, in addition to herding sheep and tending to farm animals, there were many professions to pursue 2,000 years ago, as there are today, even if we don't count IT professionals and social media influencers. There were laborers, craftsmen, politicians, military personnel, musicians, tax collectors, a very large population of slaves, and a small smattering of fishermen. So, is it just an anomaly that Jesus attracted fishermen to follow him? Was it just coincidence that these hard working men put down their nets and decided to dedicate their lives to a new and uncertain future? Maybe it's that fishing itself is an act of faith. We venture out into the wilderness with our rods, reels and consciousness of pure hope—not knowing whether we'll come home empty handed or with a cooler full of keepers. We dig in our tackle box with great care wondering if our choice of lure is correct. We gaze out across the water and try to divine what patch might hold a few fish. Many of us even say a little prayer as we rare back and chuck the lure as far as we can. "Please God, can you please just convince a big ol' speckled trout to bite my hook? Please Lord?" Of course, I must point out here that in those olden days, they didn't have rods and reels and lures and bass boats and fancy marine electronics because, of course, none of that gear had been invented. Fishing was hard labor and performed with nets that had to be mended and cleaned and protected. Fishermen often worked long into the night, using two primary types of nets. Circular cast nets, similar to what we use today, were abundant. They generally stretched about 15 feet in diameter with fine mesh for catching fish in shallow water. Folks would toss cast nets from the shore or from the boat near shore. In deeper water—Lake Galilee is 141 feet deep—they used drag nets, some more than 300 feet long and eight feet wide, similar to today's shrimp trawls. Perhaps the faith and work ethic of fishermen is what drew Jesus to them and them to Jesus. Fishing also provided the prophet with so many perfect analogies, such as "the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind." And, "you should be fishers of men." Also, fishing was a source of some outstanding Biblical stories, the most famous of which is when the disciples weren't catching anything until Jesus appeared and told them to try the other side of the boat. Then they caught so many the net almost ripped apart. So, it could be accurately claimed that Jesus was the first fishing guide. I know a lot of guides, but I'm pretty sure I'd pick Jesus every time. I love the way that story begins, as if it's you and your buddy sitting around on the porch wondering what to do. It goes like this: Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." And they said to him, "We will also come with you." Yep, I've been there. Of course, among me and my fishing disciples, the next sentence would have been: And they asked him, "Who shall be bringing the wine?" Even with all of the love and respect for fishermen, there were challenges for Jesus and his fisher followers. First of all, the Philistines controlled most of the coastal area around the lake, so the Israelites were not able to access fishing as readily as they might have liked. Plus, according to the Law of Moses, the Israelite people were not supposed to eat fish unless they had scales. So the abundant and aggressive catfish in the lake were forbidden to eat. Yet, we know from the story that someone caught at least two fish from Lake Galilee near the city of Bethsaida and then they fed 5,000 people. Surely that was a miracle, or the most amazing fish tale I've ever heard. Historians also report that the fish was a favorite image for Jesus because the Greek word for fish (ichthus) consists of the first letters that describe who Jesus was: Ihsous, CHristos, THeos, Uios, Swthr which means Jesus, Christ, of God, the Son, Savior and adds one more reason why Jesus loved fishermen. In case you're wondering who of the 12 were fishermen, they were Simon, Peter, Andrew, James and John and probably Thomas and Bartholomew. Definitely not Judas. Those of us who have a deep love and passion for fishing really do consider it a religious experience. That sentiment is probably best described by the simple poem known as The Fisherman's Prayer: I pray that I may live to fish Until my dying day. And when it comes to my last cast, I then most humbly pray: When in the Lord's great landing net And peacefully asleep That in His mercy I be judged Big enough to keep. -Author Unknown

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