In my Paul/Timothy group we were discussing “faith” and in particular its two elements: belief and trust. You may say you believe something to be true, but if that belief lacks trust it may not result in a corresponding action. The analogy used in our discussion was that of a tightrope walker. Assume you had observed him crossing back and forth several times on a tightrope, so when he asked if you believed he could do it again a reasonable answer would be “yes”. But if he then invited you to climb on his shoulders while he walks the tightrope, wouldn’t you likely decline due to a lack of trust? This concept works in the workplace, as without trust employees are unlikely to follow their managers; they may believe their manager knows what he’s doing but if they don’t trust their manager it’s unlikely they’ll follow them when the going gets rough. Biblically, we see this concept as “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17 NIV).
So, what does faith have to do with angling?
Well, I’ve been fishing the reservoirs of Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area (Kirch) for nine years. The “My Pictures” folder on my computer reveals 19 visits to Kirch, averaging about two per year. There are four fishable reservoirs in Kirch. I have read accounts of Dacey Reservoir and overhead conversations in the sporting goods stores about the large trout in Dacey, but it wasn’t until last September that I finally fished it. That first visit produced just three rainbow trout, but they were all the largest trout I’d ever landed in Kirch. I began wondering if that was a fluke incident, so I returned to Dacey twenty-six days later to validate my experience. In October I landed nine trout, five of which exceeded seventeen inches (three were over 20 inches!).
I don’t have to tell you anglers that I was contemplating those two eventful days all winter. I had plans to revisit Dacey with my brother Bruce and others this spring. My mind started to wonder if the last two visits could be replicated again. Could we continue to catch trout in the twenty inch class again, or was the fall of 2013 a freak occurrence?
So, I struck out for Kirch this morning at 6:00am. Yet another attempt to confirm what I thought I believed about Dacey Reservoir. Weather in southern Nevada had turned cold, windy, and wet. Yet the forecast for Kirch was a morning low of 36 degrees and an afternoon high just below 50 degrees. The problem was that winds and rain were also forecast to kick up around 1:00pm. My strategy evolved into start fishing mid-morning, but plan to be done by noon.
I launched the Outlaw Escape, built by North Fork Outdoors, in the primitive launch concealed within the bulrush on the eastern side of the reservoir. Within a few casts I landed my first trout, a plump fourteen incher. Soon after I landed three others measuring twelve-to-fourteen inches. But then the dry spell came. I maneuvered the Escape to the areas that produced the large trout of last fall, but no contact. I was fishing a damsel nymph, but began to wonder if that was the right fly. There was absolutely no surface action, not even a gratuitous leap here or there. Doubt began to creep in.
But then, on a strip of the line I felt a weight. I didn’t feel movement at first so I assumed a snag, but being an experienced angler I was patient, you never know for sure, and I didn’t want to break off a good trout. When it started to move it kept very deep, it was a while before it tired and came to the surface, but even then it was difficult to spot it. At first I wondered if it was a largemouth bass. It wasn’t until a few minutes later when its shape and silvery sides revealed it for what it was. What is was is the largest rainbow trout, by length, that I’ve ever caught in Kirch: a full 23 inches, just one inch shy of the 24 inch scale on my Escape stripping apron. I don’t think it was as thick or heavy as the 22 inch rainbow of last October, but who’d care?
It was about this time while I was playing the large trout that the winds had kicked up and the rain cells where descending from the nearby mountain ranges and finding their way into the White River Valley. The wind had blown me into the bulrush, so after reviving the fish I uncorked the oars and rowed athletically back to the southeastern section of the reservoir to see if I could replicate the event yet again. This time I hooked into a fine looking 18 inch rainbow. He fought much like the other, almost sullen in his behavior. I released him in the protection of the launch area, and his departure from my hand signaled the time for me to extricate from the reservoir, stow away the Escape and gear, and head for home. I was done fishing right at noon. Two and one-half hours of angling produced six trout, the two largest being eighteen and twenty-three inches long. All were released back to the reservoir.
I’m still not sure of the strength of my faith about Dacey reservoir. I’ve experienced it three times in the span of about seven months, and every visit produced a rainbow trout of at least nineteen inches or more. I believe it grows large trout. But I haven’t seemed to develop a trust with it yet. I believe it, but I don’t trust that it will consistently reveal its large trout to me, so I need to test it frequently.
Forget the tightrope walker, Dacey Reservoir seems to be my personal analogy on my faith in Jesus Christ; do I act as if I trust what I believe about him as my Lord and Savior? Where are the behaviors in my life that will convict me of my faith in Christ?