Landing a Fish


LESSON TEXT: Isaiah 28:24-28; Matthew 16:24-25; Proverbs 18:24.

“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

LESSON AIM: To find the method of getting people into the Church.

Teaching Material: Magni-Vu Picture Y; words “Cast,” “Retrieve,” “Strike,” “Fight” and “Net.”


Up to this point we have discussed the qualifications of a good fisherman, his fishing gear, tacklebox, boat and motor, various kinds of fish and how to go about finding them. Now we come to the core of catching a fish. All else is prelude. Now we approach the mechanics of bringing a free fish into our possession. Let’s look at them in order.


(Place Magni-Vu word “Cast” on board).

We will not deal with the techniques of casting, but rather the application of this skill. Your cast should be planned to drop the lure beyond the spot where you think the bass should be. The object is to get the lure into the water without frightening the bass and to work it back past the fish.

(Place Magni-Vu Picture Y on board).

If you hit the bass on the head with the lure while it is in shallow water, naturally it will be frightened away. Cast it beyond the fish’s lair and retrieve the lure past it. If the fish are deep, they aren’t likely to be frightened by your lure hitting the water.

However, the lure should land far enough beyond the bass so that it will attain the depth at which the fish is lying by the time it passes the spot.

Impatience causes many fishermen to spoil a good spot by tasting before they are in proper position. Don’t try to cast until you get close enough to where you think a fish may be lying. You must know when to stick with short to medium casts-which will be most of the time-and when to resort to long-range tactics. If you have anchored near a schooling spot, you will catch more bass if you keep your boat a substantial distance away from the centration of fish.

A cast can be soft or harsh. You can make a lot of noise by firing the lure into the water, or you can cast your lure down until it enters the water almost gently. Which is best? Most of the time the gentle approach, but the other should be tried from time to time. On occasions, a big topwater lure splashed into the water attracts strikes rather than frightening the fish.


(Place “Retrieve” on board).

Except with surface lures, the retrieve should begin before the lure hits the water. Near the end of the cast, snub the lure down gently until it has almost lost its forward momentum and begins its fall to the water. End the forward progress of the lure by thumbing the spool or pushing the button, according to the type of reel you are using. Start it back toward you by raising the rod tip before the lure ever hits the water.

This technique is best because it starts the lure back toward you in the direction it was designed to move and the lure doesn’t splash into the water backward and then reverse directions. By entering the water head first and continuing to “swim” in that direction, it presents a more natural appearance. The water is less disturbed and the fish will not be frightened.

The manner in which you retrieve the lure is the most important mechanical aspect of bass fishing. The speed of the retrieve can be slow, medium or fast. It does not have to be constant. Experiment with many kinds of retrieves, such as slow, ultra-fast, steady and erratic. By giving the rod handle a quick jerk every few feet, it is possible a bass sees this lure as a choice morsel which has an ailment of some sort. This could be compared to a lion crouching as a herd of impalas pass by. If one of the impalas should stumble and fall behind the herd, the lion would attack this weaker one.

Some fishermen get much more results out of a particular lure than others because they have learned to impart a different action to the lure that makes it more attractive to the fish.


(Place “Strike” on board).

Now we come to the technique of setting the hook-striking back when the bass hits. Do it with enthusiasm! Put some muscle into it. The mouth and jaws of a bass are tough and to penetrate the hook into it, some strong action on the part of the fisherman is needed. All fish do not have a tough mouth, so the fisherman should act accordingly.

Many times the fish will hook himself, however the fisherman must be alert and ready to give a quick jerk immediately when the bass hits. Often you can feel the presence of a fish before it even strikes. But anytime you see a bass hit, your muscles must react with reflex action to set that hook.

When you feel the bass has been hooked, don’t try to set the hook again and again during the fight that follows. Once the hook is in past the barb, further jerks and heaves on your part can open a sizeable hole around the hook which makes it easier for the fish to unhook himself, particularly when he jumps.


(Place “Fight” on board).

Bass do not make long runs when hooked. To free themselves they rely on head shaking, surges and jerks, aerial acrobatics and trying to foul line and lure on any obstruction which is convenient. The type battle you wage depends largely upon which of these tactics the fish is using at the time.

The sense of feel is most important in determining how to play a bass. It tells you how much pressure to put on the fish to bring him in, and this comes only with experience. It’s best to keep the line tight and the bass coming toward you except when you feel he is resisting too strongly. Then you should either hold steady or give line. If your reel has a slip clutch, this removes some of the possibility of errors in knowing how to “horse him” and when to give him line. If the drag is set properly, it will usually compensate for many of the fisherman’s mistakes.

The reel is very important at this stage of the game to slow or stop the flight of a bass from running toward cover.

Be especially sensitive to the lunges of a heavy bass when it is near the boat. This is when most big fish are lost. This is where you ability to give several feet of line quickly by manipulating your arms and rod is extremely important.

If you think the bass is fixing to head toward a big leap, you can do one of two things. You can relax and enjoy it, since there are few sights as stirring as a good bass climbing for altitude. During that jump, however, a bass has his best opportunity to rid himself of the lure, and many times he does.

The fight of a hooked bass is short and violent. His runs are not long and neither is the duration of the battle. Most bass are still lively when they are brought to the boat. If you will play the fish for another minute or two he will usually roll over in complete exhaustion, making the landing procedure simple.


(Place “Net” on board).

Most bass are small-less than two pounds. With this size fish, it is preferable to swing them over the side and into the boat. After it has been reeled within one or two feet of the end of the rod, move him along side the boat and ease him up over the edge.

On big bass, by far the most efficient way to boat him is with a landing net. To be sure of getting your fish, dip up the bass with the net and you will have him safe and sound in the boat.


Now let’s go back and compare all we have learned about landing a bass to bringing a soul to God. I’m sure you have seen countless applications in the previous paragraphs. No doubt you can think of better comparisons than we have. Here are a few to help get you going.

How many people have we run off because we dropped our lure right on their head? As soon as we move into a new neighborhood we immediately go from door to door introducing ourselves and inviting everyone to church with us. It’s easy to understand how a sinner would want to avoid us to keep from being asked embarrassing questions or having to make up excuses to keep away from church. This same thing is also done when some people begin working at a new job.

If we gently drop our lure on the other side and work it past them, they might never suspect what we are doing. Do something nice for them. Don’t mention anything about their sinful condition and that they are headed straight for hell. Instead, make friends. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Show them that you want to be helpful and kind-but don’t overdo it. Make that lure seem as natural and nonchalant as possible. When neighbors or acquaintances begin to suspect your true motives, they may be frightened away.

Occasionally, a big lure splashed down into a school of fish will attract them. The leading of the Holy Ghost might direct you to announce to a group of fellow-workers on the job or a group of ladies in the neighborhood what God did in the service last night at church. Did you know that a man who has been blind all his life was instantly healed? And a woman afflicted with crippling arthritis got up out of a wheel chair and walked?

Can you imagine the effect a lure like this would have on a community? Oh God, please help us to buy this lure! Please help us to be willing to pay the price that it could be used effectively to win souls! How we need this lure in our tacklebox!

Impatience could certainly cause us to ruin a good spot by casting too soon. Some folks require a long-range plan. Perhaps they have become bitter toward Pentecost by a careless fisherman in the past. It could require lots of prayer and wisdom to place the bait in the exact spot to attract their attention. Most casts are medium or short. Someone who knows nothing about the gospel could be attracted much easier than one who has been scared away.

If you are anchored close to a schooling spot where you know there are many hungry prospects, it is best to keep your church a substantial distance away. Just the mention of the word “church” frightens some folds. They automatically class you with a bunch of fanatics who are not too intelligent. Let them see the love of God in action before you mention bringing them to church. Many people will be won to God by using a gentle approach.


The more natural you make your cast, the less frightened your prospect will be. Never make it obvious what you are doing. In other words, if you are using the lure of sympathy upon a woman who has just lost a son in the armed forces, don’t go to her home once or twice a day to tell her how sorry you are about her loss. She will immediately suspect you are up to something if you shower her with too much attention.

There are many kinds of retrieves and it would be good to experiment with all of them. One that could be very beneficial is to use a negative approach. “I’m not so sure whether you could live for the Lord or not. After all, it takes some backbone and courage to stand for Him.” If they think you doubt their fortitude and ability to take a few hard knocks, something rises up within them. If they can be challenged just right, they will be determined to get the Holy Ghost or die trying. Of course, this bait would not work with everyone. But there is something in our human nature that makes us want something we can’t have, or shouldn’t have. The forbidden looks so much better than the acceptable.

Jesus never dressed up the hook. He offered the cure to their ills; but He also said, “….If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). He made it very clear that a cross was a prerequisite for gaining a crown. We must never evade the cross or we will do more damage than good. It’s better to never know the ways of the Lord than to know and then depart.

We don’t slap people in the face with the threat of going to hell at first. But some time or other, they must realize this. There are all kinds of fish and the fisherman must have discretion in what kind of lures to use and how to retrieve them.

Listen to the words of Isaiah: “Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place? For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him. For the fitches are not treshed with a treshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin with a rod. Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen” (Isaiah 28:24-28.)

You’d don’t take a treshing instrument to reap the cummin and fitches, but you never get through bruising the breadcorn. Some people must be dealt with gently; some must have the oxen turned in on them. Crying and telling the story of Calvary and every other sad story you can think of won’t phase some people. They’re too big and tough. But if you tell them they don’t have the guts to come to God and they’re not man enough to give up a little old cigarette and go to the altar, this might do the trick. But all folks couldn’t be handled that way. The Lord teaches discreation in winning souls.

Some soul-winners are crude and blunt in their witnessing to people, but they are very accurate in knowing where to go and when and what to say. One Pentecostal man went into a realty office and heard a woman complain of a sickness and that she was hardly able to work. He asked to pray for her, and right there in front of all her fellow employees, she was subjected to a Pentecostal praying for the healing of her body-and her church didn’t even believe in healing or miracles! The next morning she came to work smiling. She hadn’t felt so good in years! She knew God had touched her through this man’s prayers. But what if he had been timid? That victory would never have been won. Sometimes we think we’re using wisdom when we’re actually not allowing God the privilege to glorify Himself. Much of our so-called “wisdom” is really fear and timidity.

If we can learn to give the right kind of action to our lure, it will be much more attractive to the fish.


Many people will swallow the hook by themselves. Before they hardly know what has happened, God has penetrated their tough jaw and the gospel hook is drawing them toward the Church.

At other times we must help. It might be that we must “go beyond the call of duty” to perform some kindness. Or perhaps we must show them a Scripture they never dreamed existed. When confronted with this unmistakable proof from God’s Word, they are on the hook. This is the time to be sure the hook is in, but don’t overdo it. Be sure they know enough about the Word so they cannot deny what they must do to be saved; but don’t pound it into their heads so repeatedly that they become disgusted.

Once a person realizes they are hooked, the fight begins! Many of them will do strange things. Everything in their power will be done to foul up your testimony (the line).

The leading of the Spirit is so helpful at this time. The reel, which is prayer, must go into action. Your fish is fighting to get away, so much of the work must be done through prayer now. When the drag is set properly, it will make up for many of your mistakes. God must take over now to help bring them in.

At times you must give them more line. It might take several weeks before they are brought to the boat; but as long as that hook is still in their jaw, they usually can’t get away unless the fisherman makes a bad mistake. Prayer can slow down the flight of a soul from running toward cover. Your faith in God (the rod) must also go in action. You must put that soul in the hands of God and be assured that He is working with you to help bring in your fish.

When you feel they are almost to the boat, be especially careful. This is when many fish are lost. Don’t let that person feel that you are confident of landing them. Remember that they are still in the water. Don’t slack up on your prayer. Some folks fight to the bitter end, so keep your faith strong and depend completely upon the Lord for His cooperation. That last leap might tire them out sufficiently to completely exhaust them so they can be brought into the boat.

If you are having difficulties in landing your prospect, try fasting. This is your landing net and may be the very thing you need to make your catch safe and sound in the boat. Don’t let them know you are fasting. Keep it as quiet and “motionless” as possible because this could aggravate the situation. The smart fisherman always has his net of fasting handy and knows how to use it.

Our fish are not actually in the boat until they have repented of their sins, been baptized in Jesus’ Name and filled with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. If we should suppose they are caught before all three steps of salvation have been completed, we stand a good chance of losing them. Your rod (faith), reel (prayer), line (preaching or testimony) and net (fasting) are essential in bringing a soul to the knowledge of the truth and the new birth experience.


Encourage your students to invite a family to their home for dinner this week. This should be someone whom they are “fishing” for and would like to bring to God. It could be someone they work with; a neighbor; an acquaintance-or anyone they would love to see saved. Sometimes it is rather awkward to witness to people at work, but the situation could be ideal in your home.

The thing to remember is that you want to make a friend first. If God opens a door to discuss salvation, respond to the leading of the Spirit. But if no opportunity presents itself, don’t worry about it. Remember that you are casting your bait. Let the fish make the move toward it instead of the bait going after the fish. Always keep a prayer in your heart so that you can give the right action to your lure to attract fish. God is waiting to help you land them in the boat!

(The above material appeared in Fearless Fishermen, Search for Truth Publications, Houston, TX.)

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