Don’t Throw the Buoy Until You See the Whites of their Eyes

by Tad Lindley

On Saturday the fishing period on the Kuskokwim started at 6:00 AM. We threw the buoy into the river about 10 seconds after that. Only one other boat was in the channel and they were a half mile above us. That’s how I like it. We fished like that until the folks that slept in started to show up. Before too long, in spite of there still being lots of room to fish in the channel, a fellow went full Egegik on me and corked me off. It was almost like he told his helper, “Don’t throw the buoy until you see the whites of their eyes.”

Corked off

For my readers unfamiliar with the term, “corked off”, let me explain it. When you are fishing and the fish are traveling in a predictable direction, the first net that they come to will be the one that catches the most fish. Sometimes guys get greedy and set right I front of you so that they can get the fish. Whether you are commercial fishing or subsistence fishing, the effects of getting corked off by someone can be psychologically devastating.In a high volume fishery like Bristol Bay, the consequences can also be financially devastating. Immediately, your brain tells you that what moments before was a very promising opportunity to catch fish, has now been snatched out of your hands by someone else.

Corked at Cape Avinof 1995 AD

During the final opening of the 1995 Cape Avinof herring fishery, we had one moment of excitement when the net began to sink, but it turned out to be a soggy cardboard box half buried in the bottom. Forty-five minutes from the end of the period we had very few fish on board. We made one last set in a place that had no competition. As soon as we set, however, a boat showed up on our left, and then on our right, corking us off. In frustration I gazed out over the net and thought about how we had just had any hope of a decent period stripped out of our hands. But then corks began to disappear under the waves. I looked at the nets on either side of ours, and they appeared to be floating quite well. “Must be more cardboard,” I thought, but when it came time to pull in our gear, the air was full of fish slime and herring scales and an abundance of silver fish flopping over the aluminum bow. The boats on either side caught very little.

Corked at the Pool of Bethesda 28 AD

John 5 records the story of a lame man who went to the Pool of Bethesda hoping to get healed: Afterwards Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish religious holidays.Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was Bethesda Pool, with five covered platforms or porches surrounding it. Crowds of sick folks—lame, blind, or with paralyzed limbs—lay on the platforms (waiting for a certain movement of the water, for an angel of the Lord came from time to time and disturbed the water, and the first person to step down into it afterwards was healed)

One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew how long he had been ill, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

“I can’t,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to help me into the pool at the movement of the water. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me.

Jesus told him, “Stand up, roll up your sleeping mat and go on home!”

Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up the mat and began walking! (John 5:1-9 TLB) Here is this poor guy who gets all lined up for a healing, and then somebody faster gets there ahead of him and receives the miracle. He was getting corked off at the Pool of Bethesda.

The King of Corks

That is until the day that Jesus showed up at the Pool of Bethesda and then the lame man got his eyes off of the corkers and onto the King. It turned out that although his brain had allowed him to be psychologically defeated, that his state of failure was not final. If you have Jesus, then no matter how closely they cork you, you can still eat fish. Government policies might be against you, they might have hired a less deserving person from out of the region for the job you thought you deserved, doors might have slammed in your face, you may have gotten laid off when it looked like you were about to get promoted, but listen to me, if you get corked off in life, turn your eyes to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. With him, all things are possible!

Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.

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