It’s the end of June. The steelhead have followed the alewives into the fifty foot water about a half mile from shore. I am sitting on a bluff at 5:30 in the morning overlooking the Port Sheldon harbor between Holland and Grand Haven on Michigan’s west coast. I have been counting the boats that have gone out fishing. I can see fifteen to twenty out in the lake already, with several more pulling out of the harbor.
Yesterday, I heard the fishing report from the local radio station telling us that they are getting nice catches of steelhead on the “Big Lake.” In response to that report or some inborn radar that avid fishermen seem to have, the boats are really coming out. It seems that a new one pulls out of the harbor every two to three minutes. The lights are on. The engines are revved up to full throttle in the race to get out to a good spot. I can hear the delayed sound of the waves slapping hard against the hulls. I also hear some thunder in the distance—I hope it doesn’t spell trouble.
The fish master on the radio also said the walleyes were hitting on Lake Macatawa in Holland Harbor. Also, the bluegill and the bass are “hot” on many of the inland lakes.
I am amazed at how busy it is in this small harbor this early in the morning.
I have had the privilege of fishing the “Big Lake” many times through the years as a guest of friends and relatives in their boats. I have often been amazed that it seems you enter into a different world or culture with a life and language of its own. Men (and women, I hasten to add) who moan about getting out of bed to start a factory job at 7:00am will leap up at 4:00am, eat a hearty breakfast, tow their boat to the launch site, and be fishing before the sun is up. For the whole day they are focused on weather, water temperature, graphing fish, baits, equipment, boat radio chatter, and hopefully, catching fish. The senses are overloaded with all smells, sounds, and other sensations belonging to a boat that is bobbing up and down in the water as it is trolling for a catch. Everyone is focused, waiting for the “first hit.” Talk is of past and future trips, the merit of different poles and reels, downriggers, boats and engines. Eating from the bottomless bag of goodies and snacks washed down with a steaming cup of coffee ranks very high on the list, too. The food is strictly for medicinal purposes, of course, to help prevent seasickness.
After everyone has had a chance to doze a bit in the heat of the afternoon it is time to head into shore, pack up the gear, load the boat, head for home, store the boat, clean the fish. (In my case, I normally didn’t have to spend much time cleaning fish.) Most people can’t handle eating the fish they just caught, so, at a later date, they have a fish fry with their fishing buddies, where each time, they relive all the experiences of past fishing trips and plan future fishing trips.
It is now 6:30am. There are now more than forty boats on the Lake, with more heading out of the harbor. This recreational industry is really an amazing thing. Just think how many thousands of people there are on the lake at any one time.
I wonder how many of those people thank their Creator for the wonderful creation they are enjoying; for keeping them safe; for the food that, hopefully, they will be given? I wonder how many stand in awe before this great God and realize that it is their calling to serve Him with all their talents and acknowledge Him as their King? Man can and does learn many things about his Creator from the handiwork of God in the creation around him. So often all these things are ignored or buried in our minds.
The Bible says that we either thank Him as our God and Savior walking in humility and repentance before Him or we curse Him and rebel. There is no middle of the channel here. What do you do as you enjoy His beautiful creation? Do you bless Him or curse Him? What is your answer?