Wilderness island 2017

Not sure why this never got posted here… But in lieu of heading back there next week…

(Copy and pasted from the yakfishwest forum)

This year was my fifth trip to Wilderness in 6 years.

Once again I hit the water as soon as possible in exmouth, in this case that was Saturday morning, taking a walk from the caravan park up to the marina along the beach throwing a gold slice on 10lb gear. I picked up my first fish around 845am, a queenie of around 60cm just north of the marina.

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It was then kayak loading time and once again having Harry and his boat “Pizzaz” was of great benefit as we could fit all the yaks on and keep Jims boat free for gear and supplies. Trent and I both kept back our lightest spinning combo and a pocket size lure box, lessons learned from other years, maximise fishing time.

I made the supply run across to the island with Jim, Kim, Nick and our backpacker helper Lucy. I have made that trip about 10 times now having done extra runs a couple of the years and still it just takes my breath away every time. It especially helps when you have glassy calm conditions as we once again scored this year.

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It was good fun building the excitement for first timer Nick. It was more humid than any other day that I have been there and we were all soaked with sweat and struggling to keep up water intake as we unloaded the stuff.

Back to town by early arvo and briefly in to mantarays (formerly novotel) grabbed the rods and back out to the marina with Trent for the last couple of hours of sunlight. I boasted to Trent that I would have a fish before he was rigged up but the usually productive north corner was too low on water to produce anything. We headed around to the south wall where we found a point with a bit of water movement in some deeper, though still under a metre, of water. We soon had action and picked up a succession of brassy trevally to a kilo or so and queenies in the 50cm class. I was sure there were golden trevally amongst them to, but we didnt get any. A great fun little session before the official trip had even started with lots of screaming light gear drag, double hookups and flying queenies.

Dinner at barbecue father with the full crew, almost all familiar faces, and many repeat offenders.
I wasnt surprised to be awake by 6am on the sunday and Trent and I again made the most of our spare time with the tide being at about the same as the night before we went back to the same spot. Sandflies aplenty, not as much action as the night before but I did get one nice golden trevally, confirming to me that they would have been there the night before.

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Back to the hotel for final pack up and down to the marina and on our way.
I sat ‘up front’ on the boat with the Vandy’s and it was great to catch up, reminisce on previous years and again build the anticipation for another year. However, what we agreed upon was that the more you go to wilderness, the less the fishing matters. Of course it is always the draw, but the social, natural and psychological benefits of the place suddenly rival the fishing in importance.

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By the time we got to the island, Harry had unloaded all our yaks and daisy chained them together from the mooring. It was a matter of pull in and untether yak, seat, drive, paddle and angler in and send them on their way.

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Soon enough all yaks were pulled up above the tide line in front of camp and we had a quick unpack.

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The ‘arrival briefing’ was particularly brief as most of us were familiar with the rules.
Soon enough a group of us made our way landbased to the south end of the island.

The usual jacks were in force under the end rocks but tempting them was a challenge. I swear they are smarter every year. However with the advice of ‘tighten your drag as far as you can get away with…’ first timer, Dave got a solid hookup on a paddle tail plastic. The fish tore off several metres across the front of the rocks, catching the angler unprepared, ending the battle under a rock slightly further out. It was oddly satisfying to see an angler with that silly grin we all get after getting smoked by a powerful fish.
I landed one in a hollow victory, the fish smashing the lure just below the surface and I lifted it out before it had a chance to fight back.
Brett was now getting fish out the front on a marabou jig even as it rapidly lost feathers. So we all turned our attention that way.
A procession of queenies and trevally fell to each of us using a variety of lures.

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As sunset approached I got a bigger than usual hookup with the fish powering away briefly, pausing for a couple of headshakes and off again heading north along the front of the rock wall. I had backed the drag down to allow the smaller queenies to shine on the light gear, but now found myself palming the rapidly emptying spool. I began following the fish north scampering across the lower section of rocks and back up to the higher ground. I could feel the grating of line on sea weed and just hoped it was floating weed being dragged around. By now the fish had switched and gone back south so I again followed but this time I realised the point where the line entered the water wasn’t changing. A sure sign I was hung up on weed and or reef. Those painful few seconds as the line was still grating as it ran out while I agonisingly tried to decide which way to go to free the it felt like an eternity. Inevitably it broke and I was left to wind in at least 10m of shredded braid and looking at my spool, guessing I lost 20-30m on top of that.
You may have seen the (infamous in my family) 360 video on Facebook where Scotty has immortalised my reaction to ‘How did you go?’

I got F#$(@&G SMOKED!

First night revellery was enjoyable but knowing we had early tides, breaky time was set for 6am for 7am launch, so a relatively early night.

 

I didn’t sleep well as it was hot and humid, but that just meant I was up before my 5am alarm and got stuck in to lunch prep before even cooking breakfast allowing me to hit the water fairly soon after the others.
North was the plan. In the lead up there had been discussion of circumnavigation of tent Island which was the initial plan.
I am told there were some nice fish taken from the north end of the island, including a mangrove jack for Scotty Cog

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and the giant herring shown in the video by Glenn.

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He seems to get one there every year even if no one else else does.
I made my way across the expanse towards where the lead group of yaks were, pulling up and having a chat to each person as I passed them.
Scott Vandy was just landing a fish when I got to him so I got him a photo of his first wolf herring.

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Scotty Cog was battling wind, waves, and current trying to extricate a lure from a bommie he had stuck it to. It was quite amusing as he was the only one on the trip with a 180 drive, yet he was using his paddle to manoeuvre. For fear of damaging the drive I think…
I worked around the inside of that bommie, casting basically onto the shore and working back out to the yak after spooking some bigger fish in the shallow rock filled water.
I got my first GT for the trip and a respectable one, pushing the 50cm mark at a guess and a couple of kilos.

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Hit up a big lump of rock in some deeper water with Wayne that just screamed fish, but apparently the fish couldn’t hear it.
Brett had pulled up out the front of rooster creek and was standing and sight casting the line of dead mangroves out the front. The tide was fairly pushing in, so I used that and made one pass, then allowed it to sweep me in to the creek. I cant remember who it was that was coming out and told me, its sand fly hell in there dont go in. So I reloaded with bushmans, checked my clothing seals and coverage and let the current take me in.
That ended up being a fun little session across the bottom of the tide, I just let the current do all the work, drifted in until it turned and then back out. I kept two jacks in the high 30’s to take back for dinner and also got to photograph Davids first ever jack, and a respectable one of around 40cm at that.

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Even jumped out on a beach and had a little float for a few minutes, very welcome comfort in the humid conditions.
I was last out of the creek and it was very shallow by then, made the short paddle across the sand bar out front interesting with small waves breaking around. Wayne, Brett and Scott V were working in a loose semicircle, a sure sign that something was happening. As I pulled up I was told there were Giant herring around, but also demerit point scoring ‘cuda.
You beauty.
Trusty 15gm gold twisty deployed on the lighter outfit and there was never a long pause before a voice would cry out hookup! Only for it to be downgraded to argh its a bloody ‘cuda.
I hooked a giant herring which stayed attached about as long as it takes to say
‘Yep, this is not a ‘cuda its a HERRI…’
*fish launches into the air and throws lure back at angler*
‘…ng and its gone.’
A few casts later I came up solid. The heckling of ‘bet its a cuda’ died down when the reel screamed for a full 5 thousand count and i responded with never seen a cuda do that!
Then the aerials started as easily my biggest queenie took to the air. I guess the full fight took under 10 minutes but it felt like we were ‘doing the dance’ circling each other in the final stages for a long time. I was very grateful that Brett was there with video and camera on hand to capture the moment, one of my best fish to date, though I did attempt to take some myself of the fish in the kayak.

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I now know that its hard to measure a fish that size on a brag mat in a kayak, but it was comfortably over a metre. Took a bit of swimming to revive but swam off a couple of minutes later.
The rest of that session was a bizzare one for me, with these brown fish that i didnt recognise from profile, following my flat out twistie. When I eventually hooked one, they turned out to be bluebone! Only little ones of less than 30cm, but none the less.

As we all headed back to camp, I felt it was too early and since I had been told Vandy and Trent were down there, I detoured towards the creeks.
As I approached, Trents voice came over the radio
“I think I know who will be wearing the pink dress this year.”
“Who? and what happened?”
“Well I was trolling and got such a hard hit that my rod holder spun around and I missed grabbing the rod as it flew out the back.”

So by the time I passed him, he was in no mood to keep fishing and after a brief chat I pressed on.
I got to Vandy in the first creek and he was having a ball on the ultralight gear with bream and whiting. We slowly made our way back and being the bottom of the tide by the time we got there, I ran extra wide around the reef while he ‘hatch sailed’ across the shallow northern corner.

Tuesday 25th. ANZAC day.
I had been thinking about how to commemorate ANZAC day, as WI always has something special and being there for that date couldn’t be ignored. Well all my ideas paled into insignificance as Glenn wandered up to the main camp early and set himself up with his ukulele.
With all of us there, and the fantastic sunrise beaming across the gulf and lighting up the clouds in front of us, he treated us to “The band played waltzing Matilda”

Absolute

contemplative

silence

filled the air. A special moment.

Trent and I were both late on the water and he proceeded to catch a squid on his trolling lure not far from camp so he turned back to get some live bait rigs.
By that time, half of the group was half way up burnside and the other half were milling around in the southern side of the channel between wilderness and burnside. That was odd, as we normally cut across a fair way north, so worthy of investigation. Turns out Vandy had caught a nice spaniard. Uncommon but not unheard of, and Scott Vandy had spent a while fighting a big shark. It seemed I had missed the action and we pottered up to the end of the island. Water was screaming around the south side of the island and off the point and there was no shortage of fish working it. There was a lot of weed to however. Surface lures were the go, but even they would catch clumps every couple of casts. I persisted in close to the wall and got several trevally, including one that completely engulfed my popper, and queenies, but had to pull my rudder and/or mirage drive every couple of minutes to clear the rafts of weed.

I opted to work slowly up the island as the high tide allowed me to fish the ‘second edge’ of the island, up on what is exposed reef at low tide. Surprisingly few fish wanted to play, but cruising slowly along in glassy clear water without a care in the world was magic. That is not to say that I wasn’t catching fish, just not as many as I might have otherwise.
Trent was working the outer reef edge and got a good spangled emperor on the fresh squid, which went some way to easing the loss of the day before.

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A bit later he got a good cod which gave him a serious workout as it reefed him a couple of times, but with persistence he won out.

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We drifted over big schools of brassy trevally in the outflows and caught a few, but when you saw how many were there, it was clear that they were shut down.

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Very late to the main outflow party, most of the action had slowed by the time I got there, but I think these pics apply to that day…

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Trent and I were last to head home from the outflows and slowly made our way back along the island. I was a few hundred metres in front of Trent by the time I got to the point and I knew that the inner reef wall often fires for cod and jacks as it gets super shallow with the last of the tide. I was working my little rooster around and getting those weirdo bluebone on surface lures again, then I got a squid… strange happenings.
Just after Trent got there I hooked another big queen. In the super shallow water it spent a lot of time airborne until eventually straightening my hook.

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That kept us fishing a bit longer, but the impending sunset and low tide meaning a long kayak drag up the reef/beach had us scampering home, just in time to not get any demerits for being late back.
WI turned on a particularly speccy sunset, which again brought me back to contemplating the cruel reality of war for freedom.

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I dont know why this stupid picture wont rotate… it shows it up the right way everywhere else…

 

A slightly later start on wednesday as there was talk of taking the WAngler boat and Jims boat out for a bit of a photo shoot, that ended up being scheduled for thursday, but Scotty made the most of the anglers on the water heading north to get some drone footage and photos.

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A controversial decision that the remainder of us Scott, David, Nick and myself would head back to burnside was made.
In our defense, we did’t really hit the outflows much at all, but focused on light gear along the mangroves on the western side of the island at high tide. This has become one of my favorite activities at wilderness as there are plenty of little speedsters available to hit anything you want to throw. Hence why I took Nemo (My sons combo, loaded with 4kg test mono and with the drag coated with heavy reel grease) for a spin.
I wanted to land a fish first so although that was rigged up, it had to wait.

That didnt take long. I was fishing an area that has an ‘invisible’ creek, just a slightly lower patch of ground hidden by the mangroves, that last year I saw Kim hook a big golden trevally in. Throwing a small floating stickbait, I just saw about 10cm diameter of open yellow blubber lipped mouth engulf it off the surface my little reel scream into life. Fortunately I had cast away from the mangroves and knew that the flats were pretty safe as long as it stayed out there. I started squealing like a schoolgirl at a Bieber concert for Scotty, or anyone else to hurry up and bring a camera. All the while the fish was swimming an arc and now heading back towards the mangroves. I peddled like a bat outta hell to head it off and successfully did so, only to have it arc back the other way and call for some fancy yak handling to spin around and keep it on the safe side again. My hollering continued as the fish now turned and bolted directly back out onto the flat. The elation was short lived as suddenly it was gone. Another big fish lost on light gear, changed the tone of my shouts. Upon retrieve I found that disaster this time had struck due to the hook, split ring and anchor all having pulled out of the back of the little lure.

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With that, I decided Nemo still had to wait, and I wouldn’t trust those stickbaits anymore.
Next hookup, soon after, was a hoot, as I got my first WI Giant herring. It was then that I realised the amusing fact, I caught several GH in Perth before my first up north. Happily I had David nearby so I got a got photo of myself with it. Thanks David.

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Now Nemo got his chance. I also had a wager on with a mate that I couldn’t catch a GH on this beat up, almost featherless, marabou jig. Ok so the real bet required it to be metro, but better for confidence if I could get one up there first.
Have you ever fished one of those kids rods? With that tiny little spool and stuff all gearing, if you want to make a lure move fast, you have to wind REALLY fast. I worked my ass off and managed three hookups.
The first, a giant herring that threw it just moments into the fight, but I was seriously impressed with not breaking off straight up. The little drag sung and the fish flew. Not only had I hooked one on that munted jig, but i hadn’t broken it off on a kids rod and reel.
By now Scotty had gone past me and was getting plenty of fish, but also seriously harassed by sharks. Anyone who has fished with Coggers will know how vocal he is when fishing. It was absolutely hilarious all the things that came out of his mouth directed at fish and more so at sharks. I shouldn’t mock too much, as I’m sure that my hollering not much earlier was just as girly.
That brings me to my next fish with Nemo. It got sharked. But I got the jig back, and still didn’t break off. Not the combos fault.
By now, Scott had been playing with a school of golden trevaly in the 40cm range and they were now sheltering under his kayak presumably from the onslaught of the packs of sharks. This was by far the most sharks I have ever seen and though most were around the 1.5m mark, there were some bigger ones and being fired up chasing hooked fish it was a little intimidating getting fish out of the water.
In that context, I was still fishing nemo and hooked another golden, by casting at Scott and stopping it about 1m short of hitting his yak. Hooking up was easy enough, but by using that arc style run, I couldnt stop this one getting to a clump of snags and busting off.
With that, the adventures of nemo the emo at wilderness Island were over as one couldn’t be bothered re tying the bimmini twist etc with the fish on the chew so actively and even though I said I would get to it that night, I never did.
Back to the normal light gear and with a slightly better condition marabou, I caught a couple of goldens which was fun playing race the shark and only conceeded one.

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That of course made for interesting times as at least two whalers circled the yak while I unhooked and photographed the fish and chucked that part overboard. The risk of losing a hand outweighed the desire for a close up underwater photo of the rest of that fish being eaten.
I pulled the mirage drive and splashed water up that way to wash the blood off, figuring no shark could fit it’s head in that gap if my splashing drew too much attention to my hand.

We picked up a few more fish but the session was mostly over, so we headed back towards the outflows for the second half of the run out.

When we got there it was clearly not for the faint hearted with plenty of wind blown chop pressing up against the fast moving out flowing water. I was determined to troll up a golden and this time ran out a lure on my charter special which was still rigged up with 6kg mono from Kalbarri classic.
It lasted until I passed the first outflow and the first decent load that got put through the rod… snap…
That will teach me not to retie…
I got myself into a groove doing big laps across the front of the outflows, going with the current line on the last one, back across about 200m out and then back up the first flow and repeat. The other three guys mostly fished the walls for jacks and trevally, though Nick made a few trolling runs with me but the conditions really weren’t pleasant.
A miss communication had me thinking that the other guys were running back up the inside of the wall and would pop out the first outflow on their way home so I made several more laps and called it quits. However when I got to the first outlet and they werent there I was a bit confused. Turns out they went all the way around the island, if I had known I would have joined them, but then had to slog it much further than I did straight up the guts of the wind. Either way, I again found myself slowly making my way up to the beach, nearing sunset and dragging the yak across an extended length of reef.
The first beer went down well that night.

 

Thursday Dawned with a bit of drizzle in the air, not enough to be rain, but just right for a spectacular rainbow that was well over 180 degrees from our elevated view and hit the ground/water just out from camp. There were also lots of fish busting up around the front of camp and we watched as it was slowly broken up into a couple of groups. We were all captivated by Wilderness TV at its best.
My photos were pretty average…

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But this was not taken by me….

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So as I alluded to, Thursday was a boat day for a few of us. David and Dave joined Scott on the WAngler boat, while Nick, Lucy, Kim and I joined Jim on his boat. The plan was to hunt GT’s with plenty of big queenies expected in the same areas.
First stop looked amazing, glassy clear with lots of fast moving water pouring around the end of the island on the rising tide.
First cast was game on with at least 3 big queenies going for my clone stickbait right back to the boat. Unfortunately I couldn’t stick the hooks to any of them and this occurred for several casts until they got a bit gun shy.
Scott hooked one and after a reasonable fight, it was dutifully netted and brought aboard. It had a good photo session before the decision was made to keep it for Jim to make nummis. (pickled queenfish) Meanwhile, we rounded the corner and pulled up on a beach to sort it out so I swapped rods to my lighter gear rigged with a 15gm sea iron which I had brought in case I needed to cast at tuna. I landed a nice brassy after only one or two casts.
Back to the corner and Jim was encouraging us to fish the shallow rocky areas hoping for some big mangrove Jacks. We thought that was what we had when Kimmy hooked up big time. After a tough battle where it went under rocks and was encouraged out, then around some different rocks… she eventually got busted off. Big cod probably.
Soon after she was on again though. After a longer than expected fight we had colour and were expecting a trevally, but were surprised to see a big queenie, hooked in the shoulder being worked to the boat.

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It took Nick a few shots with the net to get it aboard, in his defence, shoulder hooked fish are harder to net, but eventually up she came.

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More photos, and that one was released.
The action had quietened down with the flow slowing considerably so we moved on to the next location.
I grabbed a few pics of the Wangler boat along the way.

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If you know this area you will recognise it, it certainly looks like a big fish hangout.

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The brassys and medium queenies were thick. We had a frenetic half hour or so where it was hard not to catch them. I had now handed my rod to Lucy and was trying to coach her into catching one. She was epically unlucky. I don’t think she was doing anything wrong, but just couldn’t hook the fish even when they were climbing all over the lure.
If memory serves, someone had hooked up on the rocks so while Jim maneuvered to unsnag them, I went to the front of the boat and started casting into the deeper water away from the rocks.
There was an eruption as the fish nailed my lure in one of the best surface hookups that I have seen. We then went in to the aerial display as a big queenie went nuts. Soon enough we went to tug of war, and soon after that the fish was in the boat. My second metre queen for the week. Again plenty of photos and the fish was released.

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We continued catching fish for a while, but just could not temp the big jacks, probably because it was so ridiculously gin clear that they were watching us drop stuff on them. I even tried micro jigs. Lucy jumped over and had a snorkle and spotted some monster squid.
A bust up a couple of hundred metres away caught our attention and both boats shot over as fast as possible. Scott and crew got there first and Scotty called across that he was getting follows from Giant herring. After the fish sounded and re appeared once or twice we had fish swiping at lures jiggled right beside the boat. Not GH, but small school macks. I got a classic polaris mack hit in the distance just after starting to retrieve the lure. The fish easily clearing a metre out of the water. Fun little fight but easily knocked over on the GT gear being only 60cm or so.
After deciding there were no tuna or herring, we moved to our next spot.
(order may be incorrect)
This was an area that Scott had had a great session on previously, but Jim was not so enthusiastic suggesting that was the only good session that he had there. Fish on the sounder, but we couldn’t tempt them. We were probably 50m away when Scott hooked up. After a reasonable fight he boated a good size golden Trevally.
We didn’t persist much longer and the next spot was an abrupt sand spit that just appears out of nowhere for no easily visible reason.
This looked exceptionally fishy with bait milling on the surface and a sweet drop off into the deeper water. We spotted a few big fish, including a black GT that I didn’t see, but Jim and Nick assured me was BIG. I had a follow from something big and broad across the shoulders, but I would have called as tuna shaped. I guess it could have been a longtail, but we will never know because I only got a couple of seconds look before it lost interest.
It was amazing fishing the aquarium as we came around to the rocky side and watched a variety from bream to fingermark, jacks and cod but I think it was just all too glassy and still and we provoked few fish to strike.
That seemed to be the recurring theme of the day and after one more spot and then back to the now fully exposed rock bar from earlier in the day we saw a heck of a lot of fish, but they were not interested.
Finally we worked back along the wall of Simpson Island hoping for Jacks, which we got a couple of, but soon headed for home.
The gulf turned on the full range of non-fishy wildlife on the run home including turtles, dolphins and even a very brief appearance of a dugong.
I had my first go at driving one of the island vehicles to take the fish down to the beach to fillet. Almost made a fool of myself with the touchy throttle and not touchy clutch, but successfully didn’t stall despite over reving a bit. Jim and Kim broke out the big wok for some fantastic Queenfish green curry. Here is another sunset.

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Friday, our final fishing day, I had made my mind up that regardless, I would go up the creeks after regretting not doing it other years.
Unfortunately it was an error. The tide being so huge the fish had disappeared waaaay up into the mangroves and everywhere on the edges of the creeks was just moving so fast that I doubt fish could hold position and even when you found somewhere out of the current, it was a real challenge to manage the yak to be able to fish those little windows.
Trent and I persisted and did catch a few fish.
I found one little corner of clean water and got a couple of hits and when I finally hit something solid, the response was a stream of ink coming at me! The hooks pulled but it was certainlly a surprise.
The next hook up pulled after only a few moments and was engulfed again. A nice cod.
I spotted a big queenie in the entry to the creek at the bottom of the estuary, just patrolling the front. Mild interest didn’t last.
My big plan was to fish ‘Jack creek’ on the top of the tide which was really productive last year. I didnt time it right and was there way too early. With water absolutely flying through I went along it backwards, paddling just to slow the drift and ruddering to point the bow and fish each side. It was unfishable, but on the exit I got monstered by a big queenie. The first pass didnt hook up, but the second cast did. The fish nailed it right next to the kayak and kept going. It pulled the rod down against my arm, which was on the rudder control, so hard that it pinned it against the side of the yak. Before I could sort myself out it had a jump on the other side of the yak and got off. A new way to lose a fish and certainly one of those ones where you give the fish a nod and say ‘Well played!’
My final memorable hookup came after the tide had turned. The fishing had been very quiet for over an hour so I figured, maybe if we try a more expensive lure. Thats how its supposed to work right? Well I tied on the most expensive I had, a Crackerjack. Ok, not expensive by some standards.
Anyway
First cast was on the spot.
Wham!
Hookup was brief and like early in the day disconnected very quickly.
But moments later, wham again.
Again, gone.
When I got the lure back in, the front treble was mangled and the rear was missing two points! In P21’s defence, those hooks were old, but it still made me giggle.
Just as an aside on fish behavior, I think in both cases, the initial fish was a jack. The commotion of it hitting, briefly fighting and getting off then draws the attention of any cod in the area which then nail the lure as soon as it is released.

Tough day at the office, but one outta five I can handle.
Some general comments on the week, The average size of fish was certainly up. All the ‘small’ queenies and trevally were 5-10cm bigger than the average other years. For me, there were more big fish. Brett and Scott both commented the converse, suggesting there were less big fish, but for me, it was a stellar trip.
No matter what I targeted (except boat day) the fish appear to be hunting the same size bait, so use the same size lure. Jacks up the creeks, 10cm hardyheads, metre plus queenies and goldens on the rock bar, 10cm hardyheads. Fish lures to suit. My top lure for the week again, 80mm rooster, though the ol 15gm twistie easily held its own, though less fun than the surface hits.
As always, amazing social trip. Great guys, massive info sharing and just great fun. Thanks to our hosts, Jim and Kim. Even if you don’t get up there with a YFW trip, try to go see them sometime. Brett and Scott also organised some theme nights which were fun, and in some cases disturbing.
Thanks to everyone who came, get on it to everyone else.
Hope to see you up there.

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10 ideas from 10 Years

So today is my tenth wedding anniversary. Well not actually the day I wrote this… I started (and finished) months early. I know, I know, relationship advice is not what this blog is about but… Anyway, for such a momentous occasion I thought I would share some things that we have used, or ideas that have come up during those years, that have helped our relationship go from strength to strength. I’m no relationship guru, I don’t profess to be perfect or even to manage these ten points myself. They are simply things I have learnt and thought I would share.

(I started writing this as gender neutral, but got tired of it. I’m a husband, you can change the terms to suit your situation.)

So without further I-do (hehehe):

1: Sorry to all of you that do not have a faith in the living God of the Bible, but advice number one is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart.”
Sounds counter intuitive to say that the way to increase your love for your spouse is to love God more than them, but it’s not. The love of God is perfect and the love of your spouse is not. The love of God will always be greater than the love of, or for, your spouse. That will firstly ground you in knowing that you are loved regardless of how your relationship is at any given moment, and secondly give you something  to aspire to together. The love of God helps us learn forgiveness, grace, patience, mercy, meekness, humility and the list goes on, with things that we need to invest in our relationship with our spouse. As your relationship with God grows, you will learn the depth of all those traits that He shows to you and you will be inspired to show them to your partner. Furthermore, you will begin to realise that God sees you and your partner in the same way, with that perfect love. This will make it hard to hold anger, bitterness, frustration etc against them. Just as God has forgiven you, you will become aware that He has also forgiven them. So who are you to hold them to higher account than He?

 

2: Pursue God together. (Oh, number two is a God thing to… sorry, maybe you should look at finding out more about Him)

I don’t mean via a formal study either. I mean talking about the issues that come up in your lives every day. Discuss them with reference to your knowledge of God and His ways. If nothing else, it will give you something to do. Something important that you can do together. Something that you will both have days as teacher and days as student doing. You and your spouse are not the same person, and will see most things with a slightly (or completely) different view and so will both have opportunity to help the other. It’ll give you things to disagree on! Woo Hoo! Better not get ahead of myself, disagreements are point 3… but most of all it gives you someone to bounce ideas off, share your victories and failures, and learning together will bind you closer. Of course this applies to pursuing anything/one, but referring to point number one, this has a dual benefit.

3: When you disagree, argue it out.

It’s ok. You will do the wrong thing sometimes and you will be dead certain that you are right. Your spouse will do likewise. If you don’t fight, you will both continue to believe you’re right and they’re wrong and it will divide you. Fight may be too dramatic of a word, though sometimes it’s necessary, but you each need to at least present your case.

Not only that but, there are things that you believe, right now, that you need to be challenged on. Trust me, so many of my beliefs and attitudes have changed because my wife bluntly told me I was being dumb, arrogant, rude, selfish… It is great when your spouse tells you that you’re being a proud, rude, selfish jerk, and they are correct. You may hope that they don’t call you all of those at once, but to be fairly rebuked and proven wrong by your most beloved, hurts a lot less than by a stranger and is better than persisting in it.

 

4: Don’t speak ill of your spouse.

This comes with a small caveat that it doesn’t apply to seeking wise council or even occasional venting to a trusted friend.

No, this is about maintaining pure thoughts. It’s a psychological truth that the more you talk (or think) about something, the more you perceive it. So many people (nearly everyone in my experience) come to work and bitch and moan about what their partner has done that upset them, was stupid or foolish etc etc. It is inappropriate. The same goes for jokes at their expense. If you are laughing together, fine. If you are laughing with your work colleagues, that is mockery and that is wrong.

Just Don’t do it.

The more you talk about their flaws, the more you will think about them and the more you will see them.

The converse applies just as much: talk your spouse up whenever possible and to whomever will listen. Not in a “my wife is better than your wife” kind of way, but get excited and share about the things that they do that you think are amazing, great or even just special to you. Build your spouse up in love, whether they are present or not.

This is my most powerful piece of worldly advice on relationships, so I’ll say it again:

Don’t speak ill of your spouse.

 

5: Be the first to apologise.

Don’t make a competition of it or anything silly like that though.
Arguments/fights are almost never fully one sided. Take some time to thoroughly examine yourself and your position/actions/words in the conflict. What did you do/not do that upset your wife? Or even didn’t proactively seek to reconcile with your wife? Apologise for them. NOW. Send a text if you’re apart.

Some words on apology that my wife has taught me.
a: I’m sorry but…” is not an apology.

There is no ‘but’ in an apology. That’s called an excuse.

Don’t try to rationalise it, play it down or deflect it. If you are going to apologise, then that is all you should do. If you still feel the need to explain your situation, you can do that at a later time, once the conflict is resolved and you can talk together about the whole situation without wild emotions.
b: A blind “I’m sorry” is meaningless.
What are you sorry for? (Bonus points: great for kids to learn as well) At very least try to express that. Added bonus, you may learn that you totally misunderstood what your wife was upset about and then be able to apologise for a whole different situation when she explains it to you!
c: Being sorry requires action to attempt to stop the situation reoccurring. 100% chance of failure in many cases, but if there is no effort to stop it happening again, you weren’t really sorry. The best thing about this though is it will stand you in good stead to having a wonderful long lasting relationship with ever decreasing conflict.

 

6: Random special things.

Kinda self explanatory really. Just keep doing them. Whether it’s a bunch of flowers, a little note, finishing work a bit early to surprise them, or taking them out for coffee, all for no special reason. Just because you love them and to remind them that you are thinking of them when you are apart.

 

7: Change for them.

Our society tells us that you are who you are and no one can make you change. In a way, that is true and it makes this a powerful way of showing your love.

No one can make you change, but you can choose to.

It may be the music you listen to or tv you watch, it could be the way you like the toilet roll to sit or the food that you like, your spending habits, the sport you follow, the exercise you do. The list is endless. Choose to do what your wife likes. Choose her happiness over your own and you may find you have chosen joy for you both. Happy wife, happy life has much more truth to it than you may realise.

As an aside to this, I would also say “don’t ask your wife to change for you.” Counter cultural I know, but I believe that you should encourage them to be who they are, not who you want them to be. Plus, if you have a healthy relationship, they may also be excited to show their love for you by changing of their own accord.

8: Change your plans for them. Only occasionally tell them.

Sometimes, you will realise that what you wanted to do will make life hard for your wife. It could be recreation, work, socialising or anything else that you have planned, consider cancelling it. That is a powerful show of your devotion to her and putting her first. DO NOT MAKE A SHOW OF IT! Just quietly let her know that you’re not doing whatever it was. As with all honest actions of love, this is not about winning points or any such thing, if you find yourself in that mindset, you need to remember it is about her, not about you.

Which then brings up the option of doing this in “secret.” I can tell you for certain that there have been many times that I have made, changed and cancelled plans in my head never having told my wife what I want to do. It seems odd to say that not telling your wife that you have chosen not to do something for her sake will help your relationship, but I guess a lot of the times what I have found is that you enjoy whatever you end up doing instead just as much and your wife enjoys your company so it is double benefit.

This applies to long term plans to. Although you must remain independent people, some of the plans that you had when you were single will no longer be feasible, especially with a family. I’m not saying abandon them all together, but you must accept that some will change how they look.

 

9: Your wife is more important than your kids.

Because if you leave a kid at the shops, your wife can just bake you a new one…. Wait, no that’s not what I meant.

It is actually pretty simple, but incredibly overlooked.

So many relationships break down because the husband and wife get so busy ensuring that the kids are the centre of attention that they forget to ever focus their attention on each other.

Sometimes it’s the simplest thing:
My wife and I have a routine most days that when I get home from work, where we sit down and have a coffee and discuss the day and plans for the next day or whatever comes up. The kids obviously want attention to and they do of course get affection and greetings while we make the coffee, but then they know it’s mum and dad’s time. It only lasts 10-15 minutes but it’s a really good chance for us as a couple to debrief and spend some time together before launching back in to whatever the afternoon has in store. Sometimes it’s a dull list of important tidbits of information, gathered through the day, that we need to tell each other. (As an aside, a while back we deliberately decided not to share everything instantly by sms as it’s better to have these things as kick starters into proper conversations. Remember, sms stands for SHORT message service, but relationships are built through long conversations.) Sometimes its just chilling out in each others presence. Yes, it’s hard when your kid desperately wants you to play right now, to say no. However it is always made clear that mum and dad are having a rest and a chat and we will play soon. Usually that ends with a hovering child peering into your coffee cup to make sure they don’t miss when you finish, but they understand the time frame.

There is also a danger of kids coming between parents. The old idea of divide and conquer or if dad says no ask mum can reach beyond getting your favourite snack. If parents aren’t on the same page, kids can pit them against each other and over time a battle that should be between child and parents becomes one between the parents with a child choosing whichever side benefits them, until it is too late.

You must put more effort into your relationship with your wife than into parenting because your parenting will be better when you work together. To work together, you must be on the same page, to be on the same page you have to discuss the page, to discuss the page you have to spend time together. Ergo, time invested in your relationship is time invested in parenting, even if parenting is not discussed in every deposit. You need to be united in how you raise your kids. If you disagree on something to do with parenting, the time to sort that out is when your kids are not present.

This also applies to planning to have kids. Many relationships have come to grief when expectations about having kids have not lived up to the assumptions of the partners. Whether it be one wants kids and the other doesn’t, timing of when to have them, how many, medical inability to or the simple fact that God does not allow them to be conceived for no discernible human reason. You must first hold tight to your first love and then reconsider your future hopes. After all, you married them for them, not as a means to a baby making end. If you did/do see your partner as a means to an end then you have much deeper problems than I can speak to.

To summarise:

“You were a girlfriend before you were a mother.”

Aunt Voula
My big fat Greek wedding 2

 

Since I’m on the topic, I’ll take the liberty of adding one more point, mainly directed at any men reading this.

When your wife goes out and you are home alone with your kid/s, do not text or call her to say that they are being obnoxious, naughty, difficult, crying, making a mess…. Etc etc. Just deal with it. They (generally speaking!) spend far more time with the kids than you do, let them have a break! A single message could throw off their whole night either with worry or irritation. You don’t need to tell them immediately, feel free to debrief when they get home. By then it will probably have lost it’s sting and you can have a good laugh together about it.

10: The attraction of the unknown, curiosity killed the cat and the grass is always greener problem.

It’s the eternal malaise. Not just for relationships, but in all specters of life. To the point where I preached a sermon on it and then turned that sermon into a blog post… Here

Essentially, when you spend lots of time with someone, you will see flaws. When you look at other people at this point, you will find yourself curious to know if they have the same flaws and because the grass is always greener, will assume that they do not.
I have little doubt that this is where most affairs come from. It is easy to look at the next woman, wonder what it might be like to be with her and then have things go from there. No malice or burning lust, just simple curiosity left unchecked.

But of course, no matter how many women you have been with, there will always be another woman. So where am I going with this…?

Choice.

It’s quite simple really. Relationships last when we choose to make them last. I can’t stand that song “Accidentally in love” because love is not an accident. You don’t fall in love. Attraction, both physical and relational is unavoidable, but from there it is a choice to pursue.
So don’t even consider the faintest possibility of any relationship except the one you are in. Choose your wife every minute of every day. That is what you promised in your wedding vows.
Maintain your relationship. Work for your relationship. Invest in your relationship. Choose your relationship.
You can scrap it and start again, but I bet the next one is no better. It might be different, but it’ll still have the up’s and down’s, pro’s and con’s. To be clear, there are extreme exceptions, domestic violence etc but I am not speaking to that extreme.

An analogy perhaps:

If I want a beautiful garden, I can go out to my local garden store (or big hardware store, complete with fundraising sausage sizzle) and get a whole heap of potted colour. You know, those little pots pots of already flowering pansies, violet… I don’t know any more plant names… I can stick them in my garden all in neat little rows, or completely random, whatever style you like and very quickly have a garden that looks amazing and is full of beautiful blooms of every colour of the rainbow. It will be truly fantastic, pleasing to the eye and satisfying for the work of my hands. However, these are usually seasonal plants and within weeks, months at best, of finishing flowering they die off. So I go out and buy new ones. Over and over again.
Or
I take up gardening. I start from scratch, with tiny little seedlings, or even seeds. I learn about my plants and how to nurture them. What fertiliser they need, how much to water them, what other plants they  go well with. I invest time effort and money into helping them thrive. In the early days, it may not look like much, a couple of leafy but tiny shrubs and a scrawny stick of a sapling tree. As the years go by though, my garden flourishes and season after season it produces flowers and crops. Some times the foliage is all it presents, but I know that the next spring is just around the corner and it will burst forth in all it’s glory again. Not only that, but should my grass start getting a little more brown than the other side of the fence, I will investigate why. I will search for a reason until I can redeem it. I’ll be focusing on fixing my grass, not on how green in is next door.

 

In closing, I just want to say that these concepts come from two sources: Personal experience and observing those around me.
The old saying goes, “If you can’t be a good example, at least be a horrible warning.”
I have seen both. There are several spectacular couples that I know and I could sit and listen to them talk about their relationship for hours and glean every last morsel of how they work together from them and apply it to my own. But at the same time I watch and listen to those around me and how they approach their relationships and so often I can pick up hints of what not to do, things to avoid or even as they look back and debrief with hindsight, learn where things went wrong. Usually things are  going wrong long before anyone realises, so if you can learn warning signs and avoid an issue before even the smallest hint of it enters you relationship, that’s a win and wisdom to learn.

Again to summarise with a catch phrase:
Marriage is not about finding the right partner,
It’s about being the right partner.

I hope you have gained something that you can use to strengthen your relationship and a new way to show your wife how much you love her. Now over to you, don’t just read it, do it!

Why veganism is a logical conclusion.

I’m a bit late on the bandwagon here as I haven’t had time to write down my thoughts. However, that has also given me some time to refine and hash them out a bit further.

Let me start by saying I am impressed and respect the passion and commitment of those who are willing to put their lives on hold, some even breaking the law for the pursuit of the cause. I respect the commitment, even if I disagree with the ultimate reason.

The way I see it, veganism is a very logical conclusion of pursuing the dominant world view in our society. In an evolutionary worldview, we are no “better” than any other animal. Slightly more advanced perhaps than some. Though even that is debatable based on definition of “advanced.” I mean, crocodiles can live for months without eating, octopus’ can fit through just about anything, sea turtles can navigate the oceans with no devices and find the same beach they were born on years later and so on. All very advanced in their own way and yet in typical human fashion, we are the advanced ones because we manipulate our environment rather than adapting ourselves to it. That’s a topic for another day…

So if we are all just animals, springing from the same primordial origin, then we have all had the same amount of time and opportunity to evolve/develop consciousness, conscience and self awareness. How that shows or can be assessed is all but impossible to determine. By observation, we see animals portraying actions that can be interpreted as these things, but without definitive communication we cannot be sure what is happening in their brain. This neither proves, nor disproves a conclusion.

Logically though, if everything is evolving, it is either conscious already or will be at some indeterminate time in the future, near or distant. If that is true, then veganism has a very strong case. How can knowingly killing another being with the same intellectual and spiritual (whatever that means in an evolutionary worldview) potential, be justified?

In only one way: kill or be killed, survival of the fittest, only the strong survive. The problem then becomes, why stop at (other) animals? Why is it not ok to kill people?

If evolution is the backdrop, there is no line. All life is sacred, or none is.

In an amusing twist, this also makes it “right” for evolution believers to do whatever they like to other humans in order to protect lives. If all animals are equal, then farmers are slave traders and slaying them is not murder, it is liberating captives. The same as assassinating a dictator is the job of a peace keeper.

You may have guessed, I am not a vegan. I have no problem with eating meat, or keeping animals to produce other products that we eat or use. By extension, you may guess that I do not hold an evolutionary worldview. No, I believe in direct creation by God as described in the holy scriptures. Why does that matter? Well, it is an alternate view to evolution. In this case, I want to focus on the special creation of humans.
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the ground.”” Genesis 1:26-28
We alone are described as created in the image of God. Furthermore, we are given dominion over the earth; plants, animals and inanimate. By combining these two facts it is clear that this is not the dominion of an overbearing dictator, more the responsibility of a caretaker. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 However, when Adam and Eve eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in disobedience to God, their eyes are opened to that knowledge. One of the first things that they notice is that they are naked and because of that they are ashamed. Now I’m not 100% sure on the theology of naked=evil but I am told that it is representative of being exposed and known, they can see the evil desires and actions in one another and are ashamed of what the other can see in them.
Before: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:25
After: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:7
And: “He answered, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”” Genesis 3:10
The opening of their eyes is a direct result of eating the fruit, however that action in itself is an act of disobedience to God, which has the consequence of being banished from the tree of life. As always, the serpent technically didn’t lie, eating the fruit didn’t result in death, but without access to the tree of life, they will physically die.

Before God banishes then, He responds by killing an animal and taking the skin to cover them with. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 In this case the word “cover” is the same word that can be translated as atonement. The Lord himself takes the life of an animal, to make atonement for the sins of humans, providing for their need to cover their shame. Every animal that dies so that we can eat and be clothed etc should be a reminder that there is a debt to be paid so that we can live.

It is not until after the flood that we receive further directions on the matter. When Noah and his family emerge from the ark, God grants him some new privileges, but also consequences. “The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given in to your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”” Genesis 9:2-6
This is the first time that permission is given to eat meat. Animal sacrifices have been presented to God, but now humans are permitted to kill and eat. Also again reinforcing the difference of man from all other animals

My key points so far are: humans and animals are distinct and there is no theological problem with killing animals to provide for human needs. Initially, there was no distinction among animals, but later God declared some clean/unclean under the old covenant (representing the setting aside of the nation of Israel), however Jesus declares them all clean again in His new covenant.

All of that is to be seen under the ultimate guidance of the original directive: oversee the creation, using it as necessary, under the provision of caring for it.

For me, I don’t believe animals are sentient in the sense of self awareness ie:
“I think, therefore I am”

Just put “define sentience” into Google and it’s pretty clear why I feel the need to be specific. That’s another factor muddying the waters of this conversation, words don’t mean the same to everyone.

I have previously said that part of humans alone being in God’s image is consciousness/self awareness/sentience derived from having a soul. However, my wife pointed out to me that that is an assumption. While consciousness is a good argument for special creation (very hard to explain naturalisticly), special creation does not preclude animals having souls or consciousness.

Sure there is difference in intelligence, but as far as eating potential, my position is “If it’s wild caught or raised for human consumption, I’ll eat it.” The distinction I draw is that I wouldn’t eat, or kill, someone’s pet. That is a division of the specific animal, which I draw because a person has attachment to that animal, which imbues it with additional value. For example, I wouldn’t eat your pet rabbit, but have no problem with eating a farmed one. I would apply the same to dog, but it’s not commercially available in Australia. If I see a cat on the road in suburbia, I will do my utmost to avoid running over it, someone probably loves it, if it was in the country, I wouldn’t hesitate to run it over. Any number of times I have looked at my dog (a west highland white terrier) and thought, “Gee you look like a fox.” Foxes are one of the most hated animals in Australia and I have shot a few of them. People also keep them as pets and I am willing to bet that they see just as much character in their pets as I see in my dog. I don’t think that is because wild and domestic ones are different, just that we see what we consider to be human traits when we look at an animal long enough.

Finally a word on welfare. The importance of stewardship cannot be emphasised enough. I do not know how suffering is defined in an animal of less sentience than a human, but I do know that we should not seek to cause it. In the same way that eating the fruit didn’t cause death, it seems to me that the heart of the person is the determining factor of whether our treatment of animals is right or wrong. If we deliberately seek to cause or uncaringly allow suffering to continue, then we are not caring for creation and not fulfilling our mandate. To make it personal, I will continue to go fishing as I am not there with the intent to cause harm. I will endeavour to treat the fish I catch (or lose) with respect and the utmost care. Not because I believe that they experience pain as we do, but because violence and disrespect are character traits contrary to a caretaker. The onus is on the character and therefore behaviour of the individual, to be more like our King, Jesus, who provides for and administers his kingdom with compassion.

What does that mean when it comes to live exports? Or indeed any mass transport of livestock, factory farms, battery hens etc? Well first and foremost, personal responsibility. Each person in the chain (farmer, truckie, yard hand etc) should be doing due diligence on their own practices to be as compassionate and respectful as possible. Again assessing the heart. If you work with animals, you will have animals die. That is not an excuse to be greedy though. Best practice doesn’t mean each animal has its private lounge with a barista, masseuse and nightly John Butler trio concert but nor is it jamming as many as possible in and hoping for the best. However that must be tempered and followed closely by the fact that humans come first.

Always.

This is what bothers me about the extreme protesters. Imagine if all that energy was put in to saving humans from the slave trade. Helping people escape from neglect and malnutrition. Getting people away from abuse. How much good could we do if we took the energy that is expended on animal ‘rights’ and invested it in human rights?! As I said earlier though, if you are of a worldview that says we are all animals, then prioritising innocent animals over brutal, cruel humans makes perfect sense. My worldview says that every single human being, regardless of what I think of them because of what they have done or not done, is of almost infinitely more value than any animal. It also says that they are culpable for and will be punished for poor treatment of the creation that they are supposed to be stewarding, though that is for God to do not me. For that reason, I do not give to animal related charities, but only to ones dedicated to helping people. That is my choice and I don’t ask or expect anyone else to agree or copy my decision.

To sum up, veganism and complete animal liberation makes sense under the prevailing western world view. However, under a Christian world view, we are permitted to catch, keep, work, kill and eat any animal, under the provision that we do it without malice, violence or greed, as is fitting for a believer in all areas of life. To be clear, that is a permission, not a command. As with everything, we may use what God has given us, but through self reflection and the leading of the spirit, ensure that we are not abusing it. 

It is certainly not a cut and dried subject, and veganism has just as much grounding in logic as any other choice, perhaps more. I hope it has given you some food for thought.

Summer mornings

A parallel to Winter mornings

4am my alarm goes off.

For a moment I don’t recognise it as it’s the first time my new phone has been used as an alarm clock.

I roll out of bed and silence it as quickly as possible. A fraction of a second worth of thought on temperature and I throw on the shorts and thongs option. I never really thought it would be cold enough for long pants and sneakers, but had set them out as well, just in case. Grabbing my water bottle and keys on the way past, I’m in the car in just a minute or two.

The eastern horizon already has a slight glow from the approaching dawn. Bummer, I really should have started earlier, but the thought of setting an alarm starting with a 3 makes me cringe. They say you have to be running your lures by first light to have the best shot. I’m not going to make that, but just maybe before dawn.

The temperature is confirmed by my car as low 20’s. Very pleasant.

The forecast is for strong easterly winds which can make for hard work, but certainly not unfishable. It’s not until I’m about 3/4 of the way to the coast that I notice the flags and trees flapping. Yep, it’s windy, but also definitely easterly so not a worry.

445 I am unloading and my regular companion Brendon pulls in at 450. He can do that, having a trailer saves a lot of set up time. I comment that I’m not going to bother with a headlamp and am considering leaving my beacon light in the car to. The response is that although it’s light, it is technically not dawn so I should still use it. Fair enough. Brendon comments on not having any fresh squid, our usual bait and suggests that since it is light, he may stop on the way out to try to secure a couple. Fine by me, but I am all about trolling this trip. With Spanish Mackerel reports beginning to make their way onto fishing forums I am super keen to add a new species to my list and some tasty fillets to my belly.

The tide is low so its a long drag down to the water. I wait a few minutes for Brendon, but decide to abandon my companion as I begin to feel like I wasted such an early start by not being early enough.
I stow my thongs in the hatch and pull ‘Providence’ out to knee deep before deploying transducer, rudder and mirage drive. Best thing about summer launches: the water is beautifully warm. I briefly imagine how much of a problem getting wet to my waist on a winter morning would be and then get back to enjoying my peddle out.
I potter around for a bit fiddling with my sounder. It’s ‘new’ in that it has been used less than half a dozen times even though I have had it for several months. Change a setting here, change the display there. This mornings victory was setting up the three way split screen to have side scan (sorry: sideVu if you want to use the garmin terminology) taking up the top half of the screen and then traditional sounder and map sharing the bottom half of the screen. I keep the traditional sounder image open to cross reference as I am trying to understand what the side imaging is telling me that is useful information ie, what does a fish look like? What does a school of small fish look like? What does a steep drop off or a rock look like? My sounder does not contain any built in contour maps, nor is it equipped to take external maps. However, it does have a nifty little feature that allows you to draw your own maps in real time and store the information for future use. Essentially, you start with zero information, but can quickly build up a map of areas that you fish regularly in 40m wide swathes as you fish or transit. I must admit, I find it fascinating to watch it draw and spent much of my last session just watching the contour lines appear and figuring out where they would join up.

Anyway, as I don’t want to waste storage space, I hadn’t turned that feature on yet, but decided that I may as well deploy my lure just to check that it was going to swim correctly. 50m later it was clear that it would and I figured, ‘Hey, might as well leave it out’ So I stuck the rod in the holder and relaxed back into a comfy peddling rhythm.

My mind drifted to the possibilities for the morning as I considered how much south was in that easterly and if it was enough for me to worry about as I would be heading north shortly. Though at this point I was heading almost due west and the South westerly swell would spray across the bow occasionally. That warm water is quite pleasant when it hits you in the face, but with the movement still cools you down from the work of peddling.

When line started pulling from my reel I thought I must have passed a shallow section and gotten snagged, but it quickly became apparent that line was disappearing much faster and less consistently than I was travelling.

OH! FISH!

I had a pretty good inkling of what the culprit would be, but given I didn’t expect anything to be crunching my lure that far from any structure I wasn’t jumping to conclusions. It was a solid fight, though probably only a minute or two long, with the fish taking several powerful runs. As it drew to a close I noticed two boats headed my way. I didn’t really want to make a scene, hoping that the passers by, would do just that. I lowered the rod tip being careful to do it slowly, not allowing any slack, to disguise the fact that it was attached to a good fish and hoped that the delay wouldn’t end in disaster. I began peddling forwards to keep tension on, towing the fish and also moving away from the boats. One boat blasted by but the second slowed some 150m south west of me. Oh No! I am discovered! They then began the process of dropping anchor and I realised that their stopping had nothing to do with me, I had just hooked my fish close to ‘their spot.’ None the less, I tried to be inconspicuous about reaching around for my gaff, taking 4 or 5 goes at actually gaffing the fish and gently sliding it aboard.

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To say I was stoked is something of an understatement. To get a solid snapper before even getting to the area I expected to fish was a most welcome surprise. Smartass me quickly snapped a photo of the fish and sent it to Brendon who was still inshore, with the caption “Do you want fish or squid?” And posted on yakfishwest facebook page how nice it is having a good fish on board by 530am.

With the fish dispatched and onto the back deck, I was on my way again. When I discovered a ridge that quickly dropped from around 6m to 8 or 9 I began recording and made several passes to map it for another day. The few arches that showed on the deep side of it also served to hold my attention for a while. By now Brendon had joined me and he dropped a few baits around but also without success. We decided to head off for what we were actually there for and began our troll in earnest.

As we approached the area of interest, we each spooked a couple of flying fish. Cool critters, especially when you’re down at their level. I noted water temperature as 21.5, perhaps a little cold, I’m told that the magic number is 23.

Having been shown a picture in Navionics of the target area and memorised the land based line up points to put us in the ball park, I had a vague idea where I was going. I knew I was looking for a ridge with drop offs either side, but I was running parallel with it and didn’t know the depth at either shallow or deep side. So while I zig zagged hoping to stumble upon the drop off, or rise, Brendon was scrolling through his Navionics trying to find on a map, what I was looking for in real time. We both found it at about the same time, but were far enough apart that although I could understand that he was saying “you have gone past it,” he was up wind and couldn’t hear me responding “no it is still getting deeper.”

I made two runs up and back, crossing back and forth over the drop off before deciding that with the wind not backing off at all, I was going to need all of the 40 minutes I had to get back in. Brendon opted to come with me and we set off.

It was a wet ride pushing back into the swell, but it felt glorious in the morning sunshine. I quite enjoy riding over waves in my Revo, even leaning in to the drop occasionally to drive the bow through the waves and flood water across the deck.

As I watched the final drop off bottoming out on my screen, I wondered how far back did I actually run the lure? When will it be crossing that point?

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!

Oooh! There it is! This fish pulled line much faster and for much longer than the first. I couldn’t believe that just maybe, I was going to get a snapper and a mackerel in the same session. I tried to remain calm as I tightened the drag a bit and turned the kayak back to face the fish. Then that terrifying feeling of the line going slack. I wound like a mad man and the tension came back on as the fish made another short run. Yet again it ran towards me and I struggled to keep up. As I caught up I felt the shudder of a head shake, followed by the rhythmic pulse of the lure swimming back to me. The fish had shaken it free. Interestingly, the wire leader came back as a perfect 180 degree curve. My prediction is that the fish was hooked on the outside of one side of its face and when it turned after the first run, the wire ended up across its mouth. First run, the hook is pulling towards the back of the fish, second run, because of the wire, it would be pulling to the front, hence the dislodged lure.

Brendon confessed that it was his fault, he had just turned his gopro on.

I quickly redeployed the lure and doubled back for another pass over the immediate area, knowing full well that it would make me late home. No further joy so I continued heading in, being sure to pass over where I caught the fish on the way out.

I stopped briefly just before getting back to the beach to get a nicer picture of my fish with a bit more sunlight.

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The sun was a bit too bright and high already unfortunately.

I happily jumped out while still waist deep and had a refreshing little dunk before pulling ‘Providence’ up the beach. Quickly adjusting position for best lighting I rolled out the truth measure, and the fish went just over 70cm. Snapped a nice shot on the brag mat before packing myself up and heading for home, barely 3 hours after arriving.

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It’s always a nice feeling driving home with a solid fish to show for the early start. Being out and back before the day gets hot, you have accomplished something, done some exercise and set the day rolling.

I can’t wait to do it again,

maybe I’ll even get there for first light.

 

Post script: Had another dedicated trolling session this Sunday. Pre-prepared more on Saturday,  got up 10 minutes earlier, was fishing by first light. Just under 3 hours of solid peddling for one under size Sampsonfish caught on return within 10 minutes of the beach. At least my early morning peddling doesn’t involve Lycra.

Westport Taskforce submission

To whom it may concern,

I wish to make a submission to the Westport taskforce in relation to the “What we have found so far report.” My interest in the matter is primarily from the view point of a recreational fisherman. As a fisherman I consider myself very conservation minded as I am well aware that good environmental management ultimately means more fish to catch. I will therefore direct almost all of my comments to the Environmental work stream. I first became interested in the taskforce in early 2018 when the Western Harbour Alliance plans for large scale increase to the Kwinana outer harbour became public. I was extremely concerned as it was presented as a ‘done deal’ and I could see it would be environmentally questionable. Although, I was initially sceptical of how bad it could be, after all, many fish live in and around both of the current inner and outer harbours and in fact they provide good structure and habitat for just that. However, with a bit of further research I came to understand exactly how disastrous it would be as the works required, including dredging and land reclamation for construction alone would probably push the already stressed and fragile nursery area past breaking point.  It was with great relief that I discovered it was just one possibility and that Westport had been set up to investigate and plan for the middle to long term future of ship borne commerce in Western Australia.

I have no qualms being upfront that I have no formal qualifications in any area associated with this but in the spirit of the “working with nature philosophy” I wish to have my voice heard as we pursue win-win solutions for economic development, the environment and social amenity, when the capacity to secure benefits are highest. I have however taken a keen interest and have read much from people who have qualifications and have done the research to back up what they say. So when the statement: “If this Port goes ahead, then potentially the only place that snapper will breed in the West Coast Bioregion, is in a lab.” Comes from Recfishwest, I find that very disturbing.

I will briefly comment that it would appear to me the greatest opportunity for a complete master planned shipping hub in the long term is in Bunbury. I came to this conclusion from what is presented in the report. It has the greatest accessible land area, much of which is currently unused or rural. This gives great opportunity for all forms of industry to claim as much space as they need for their task. It also removes the constraints of existing urban areas which limit road and rail development and access. Although all options are presented as ‘close to capacity’ in their networks, both Kwinana and Fremantle are constrained by existing, limiting, development, whereas Bunbury can be set out from the start as an industrial area with buffers, vast road and rail networks and any other required infrastructure. This will require the greatest amount of development, as it currently has the least, but when planned over the long term it also has the best chance of being ‘done right.’
I also would like to know what the possible term is for maintaining containers at Fremantle inner harbour is if all of the ‘efficiency upgrade’ mentioned in the report come to fruition.

Ie: “Fremantle has the physical capacity within its existing footprint to handle a substantial increase in container trade and to continue in its role as a conventional cargo trades port (e.g. vehicles, livestock and scrap metal). Future growth may be accommodated by adjusting berth allocations, channel dredging, berth strengthening, increasing the number of cranes, automation, improving container handling equipment and improving the container terminal interface with road and rail infrastructure.

  1. Additional container capacity increases are possible at Fremantle by undertaking further

works, including modifying berths.” (P.41)

Will this be sufficient time to get Bunbury up and running as a container port? That seems the best proposal to me. Kwinana is not set up for containers and need never be. Fremantle can become passenger only once Bunbury is set up to take over all container trade.

Latitude 32 is an unfortunate situation as it would appear someone has jumped the gun and promised development before it was endorsed. I feel that this is a consequence that investors will have to absorb. The land could perhaps be used in conjunction with bulk trade out of Kwinana.

My greatest concern is that pure economics and short sightedness will see Kwinana developed at great cost to the ecosystem of Cockburn sound. I wish to be clear that this is not about ‘my fishing spot’ or any similar personal motivation, but an understanding of the unique geology that creates an entirely essential nursery area within the waters of the sound. To quote Tim Barlow of Tim’s Tackle Plus who put it very succinctly: “With the benefit of hindsight and modern thinking we would never have established heavy industry in such a valuable piece of land. We would also have sited it (away from) the population centre so that pollution was minimised. We didn’t however, so the focus must now be on preventing any more damage.”
What makes it so valuable is the geology, found only in three locations in our state, Exmouth gulf, Shark bay and Cockburn sound. That being, a body of water that is exposed only to the north, providing protection from almost all regular prevailing conditions. All three of these locations are recognised as significant nursery areas for many species of fish and also many, many other animals, all because of that protection.
I completely understand and agree with the reports statement “it can be difficult to build new or expand existing infrastructure that is essential for WA’s economic prosperity without having an impact on the environment” (P.60) however, the risk of increasing industry in Cockburn sound is too great and consequences much further reaching than the waters that it immediately affects for any plan involving significant change to the environment to go ahead. You could build an entirely new port on any west facing stretch of WA’s coast and the effect would be only local, build it in Cockburn sound and the effects will be seen right across the west coast bioregion and possibly beyond. I would also like to mention that in my personal experience, the ‘Indicative area of pink snapper spawning” (P.68) should run much closer to the coastline as I have witnessed aggregations of fish outside that indicated area. If I were a more cynical person, I may suggest that line was drawn so it would be outside the footprint of the WHA proposals land reclamation.

 

Finally, I was struck by the statement: “More comprehensive technical investigations, such as flora, fauna and ecological community surveys and mapping, high quality benthic habitat mapping and analysis, sediment fate modelling and detailed geotechnical studies (where required), are currently out of scope. These would generally be undertaken when a preferred option is endorsed by Government in the lead-up to an Environmental Impact Assessment process.” (P.71)

This sounds very much like putting the horse before the cart to me. Surely before a government can endorse a plan, they would need to know its environmental impact? What if they endorse a plan and it is not environmentally viable? Should this not be part of Westport phase 2?

 

In closing I would like to thank you for the work being done by the taskforce. Although many people feel that it may be influenced by politics and lobby groups, I am still willing to carry more faith in the system than most. I know that you will never convince everyone, but I urge you to do everything in your power to truly maintain your independence and to reassure the public of it as well.

Thank you for your time and work.

Sincerely,

Joel Tinetti

With you I am well pleased

Ever feel like you are not fulfilling your destiny? Like you’re just ticking along living a normal life? Are you expecting God to use you for great things?

The pressure to perform. It’s a pressure we all face. But how long does it take? When do you know you are there? Even if you don’t feel it as pressure to perform, per se, I think we all have an inbuilt desire for significance, or to do something special.

As a Christian, that is hopefully a desire to do something special for God. Oops, even that wording is wrong.
As a Christian, that is hopefully a desire to do something special for the world, by Gods power.
That is a good desire. Perhaps you want to be as significant as Noah, Moses, Jonah, Job…etc. Well a thought struck me a while back (this has been in drafts for quite some time!) that lots of the famous names of the bible are famous for a single event in their life. Certainly not all of them, but think about it, some of the most well known people written of in the bible were just normal people for most of their lives.

Noah was 600 years old when he went into the ark!! His sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth were 100! (Genesis 5:32, 7:6) Now we are not told how long it took him to build the ark, but I am willing to suggest that it wasn’t his whole life, I doubt it was even his sons whole life. However, all we are told about Noah before he becomes the star of one of the most well known bible stories is: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.” Genesis 6:9-10
The flood itself took approximately a year, after the flood we are told that Noah plants a vineyard (Genesis 9:20) and in the next verse says “When he drank some of it’s wine…”
Presumably, that took a few years, and then we have a single story in which Noah gets drunk and sleeps naked in his tent and then curses Ham, who was to be the father of the Canaanites, for not covering his nakedness, but rather increasing Noah’s shame by telling his other sons. Finally, we are told in verses 28-29 that Noah lived 350 years after the flood, during which time the whole vineyard grew, wine got made and he drank. So from 950 years of life, we have the story of one year, plus a few days, yet Noah is one of the most widely known names from the bible. Extraordinary.

What about Jonah? Who was he? How old was he? What else did he do? He runs from the Lord, no one knows who he is. Maybe it was a while into the voyage to Nineveh before God sends a storm against his boat. After a discussion, in which the crew try to avoid it, they throw him in. Three days in a fish. Perhaps there was a time between then, chapter 2 v10, and when the word of the Lord comes to him a second time 3:1, but still no one knows who he is. Maybe it took a long time to get to Nineveh from wherever Jonah was, though I’m guessing he traveled it in a rush this time! However when he gets there, we are told “On the first day… “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”… The Ninevites believed God.” (Jonah 3:4-5 abbreviated) Verse 6 says “When the news reached the king…” a decree is issued by proclamation and the people obey it. So that may have taken some time, but clearly less than 40 days. Finally we have the story of the vine that springs up overnight to shelter Jonah and just as quickly is chewed by a worm and withers the next day while he sits waiting to see the destruction that he is hoping will come. How long do you think the entire story of Jonah took? How much of it was just Jonahs story of how ‘his life’ was preparing him for his ministry. His ministry which lasted… maybe 40 days? Yet once again, if you ask most people in our society to name people from the bible, Jonah will almost certainly come up.

The standard measure of ‘greatness’ is publicity and grand acts, which I guess as humans makes sense, since we can only see what is visible. We are however, repeatedly warned in scripture that God sees the heart, that God is interested in what is done in secret, how we behave when nobody is watching. In a recent bible study, looking at the beginning of the gospel of Mark, we were given a very profound statement of what it takes to please God. The third verse of the gospel that speaks about Jesus (1:11) the voice of The Father comes from heaven and says:

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

You know that verse, right? One thing that I have learned since studying the bible under Pastor Russell Holmes , is to look at every verse and take in the context around it. Not only the context of the text, but the context of when, where, how, why and to whom it is said. This is immediately after Jesus baptism, but before He has begun His ministry. Yes, there is the time He stayed at the temple as a kid and the time He turned water into wine, but essentially, Jesus has done NOTHING of worldly significance when God makes that statement.

With you I am well pleased.

Yes, we are talking about Jesus Christ, God the Son, but it is important to note that until this point, on earth, He has lived a life of insignificance. Here is how the people of the town he grew up in refer to him even after he has begun his mission:
“Jesus left there and went to his home town, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him.” Mark 6:1-3

Even though they acknowledge the remarkable teaching, their stubborn hearts still dismiss it because as far as they are concerned Jesus has done nothing of significance. Yet even before this, God has said He is pleased with Jesus. The same applies for us, it is not by our grand actions and amazing ministries that we please God, but by simple obedience.

When coupled with an understanding of Gods role in the work we do in his name, this quite shockingly this puts some things into perspective.

Even our greatest successes are only to be credited as simple obedience.

Even more dramatically:

Our greatest success is simply being faithful to God.

What does this tell us about being faithful? Well the first thing it screams at me is that faithfulness is hard. Look at the nation of Israel: over and over again in the old testament God pleads with them, “If you will only be faithful…”

Yes, sometimes that faithfulness means doing amazing, terrifying, shocking, bizarre things, but for the most part, they go astray of their own accord, in their every day lives. Remaining faithful in the everyday is just as hard, if not harder, than in the testing times and so it pleases God immensely when we do it.

At the most basic level, I would go so far as to say that all anyone, anywhere is ever called to do is be faithful to God.

How that plays out in their life could be very different, as God calls us all to different things. Yet, to circle back to the origin of this post, let’s think about how many Christian’s there are in the world.
Lots right?
Now how many of them are ‘famous?’
Not very many.
Now remove the ones who are famous, but not because of what they are doing for Jesus, and you are left with a handful, IF you are well read. My point is simple:

Very few people are called by God to do anything that makes them famous, important or even well known.

Indeed, almost none have a calling outside of their immediate circle of people that they physically know, yet, with those who are faithful and loyal in the small things, God is well pleased. To do great things for God, just do what God asks of you.
“The mundane matters of life are eternally important. They are the theatre in which we either love God or rebel against him.” (Russell Holmes 2018)
If all you can honestly do is live every day, barely hanging on to your sanity and the scraps of faith that you have just to keep yourself in His care, without an ounce of strength left for others, then so be it. With you He is well pleased.

Micah 6:8

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
 And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

 

In my experience though, God always has exceptional occurrences prepared for us. They may not be fame and fortune related, they may not be frequent, regular or even occasional but perhaps, like Jonah and Noah, we will have a single event in a lifetime. This lesson is twofold:

1: Keep waiting.

If you don’t think you have ‘had your moment’ perhaps God has it planned for tomorrow, the next day, or when you are 600 years old. In the meantime remain faithful to Him. Wait for God, don’t try to be something or someone without Him, that is called self promotion and is about your ego and pride. Even if you slap, god, jesus, mission, gift, plan or any other such tag on it, if it’s about you doing something for god, rather than just doing what God asks you to, then really it’s just about you.

2: Remember.

Over and over God appeals to Israel to remember what He has done for them. In fact, many of the times that God calls them to be faithful, it is in the context of remembering what He has already done. Not only, “we should be faithful because He is faithful” but looking at the acts of God in our lives helps us persevere. Whenever I have doubts about Gods presence, power, love, provision etc I think back to the times in my life where I have seen those things. There are many occurrences in my life that were undeniably acts of God and remembering them helps me wait on Him in the present. How much more should remembering Gods great acts in history ground us! Take heart if they don’t though, even the people who physically walked through the red sea, saw it with their own eyes, were sure that God was going to let them die in the desert just a few weeks later.

If you ever feel like you’re not pleasing God because your faith is feeble and fumbling, all He asks of us is that we hold tight to it. If you feel it slipping, look back at what God has done for you in the past. He is always acting in our lives, He is not always asking us to public actions for Him. Some people will be called to many grand public acts, some to a few or just one, but for the vast majority of people the greatest thing He asks of us is to live disciplined lives under His lordship.

Two terms I am removing from my vocabulary.

Everyone knows that chefs use a lot of colourful language. I am guilty of it. I am working on it.

The reason I allowed myself to get into the habit of swearing, was simple: I told myself that it was only words. If it’s only words, then it doesn’t matter and the ‘offensive’ or ‘bad’ part about it was defined by the people whose company I was in. If I was in the kitchen, or on a fishing trip, it was all just part of every conversation and so it became part of my regular use in those situations.

However, in an entirely unrelated situation, I began to see that words and in particular names and titles, have genuine power, greater than letters on a page or vibrations in the air.

I wont go into what that situation was as that would be an unhelpful sidetrack, but it was key to my realisation that inappropriate words draw a heart away from what is good and right, even when they appear to be entirely arbitrary and not even used in a negative or derogatory way. I have found it true that the more you say something, the more you believe it. In the case of specifics, or simply attitudes. The more you believe it, the more you see it and act accordingly. This is a dangerous perpetual cycle. The above situation is a psychological one, a training of the brain if you will. I have found that words are even more than that. They also have effect, or power in the spiritual realm. Biblically, names are very important and I think that is because they are more than simply something to identify someone with. It’s another paradox of the spirit, but although speaking the ‘right’ name doesn’t necessarily bring the power associated with it, changing or not using a name can strip someone or something of their power.

So aside from the actual swear words, which I have realised are harder to remove from my cultural vocabulary than I expected, here are two that I don’t (or at least try not to) use.

 

Trash (In relation to a person ie white trash, trailer trash etc)

Trash is American for rubbish, just in case you didn’t know. Trash is what we throw away. It is stuff that is of no value, only to be lugged off to somewhere far away from us to rot.

No person is trash. None. No one. Never.

We like to think that we would never think that of a person but… still we call people trash and we don’t care what happens to them when they leave or presence. Now, I’m not saying that we should be trying to look after, or even concern ourselves with what happens to every person, but I am saying that we should never be wishing them harm, nor even uncaring ambivalence. A human life wasted is always a tragedy. Even the lives of those who take the lives of others. It may be just, but it is still tragic.

If we call people trash, whether it’s someone we know, someone on the street or a celebrity that we actually have no idea about, we devalue human life. If we devalue one human life, eventually we will find ourselves devaluing huge chunks of human lives for one reason or another. Human life is priceless, it should not be devalued.

People are never trash.

 

Luck

This is my big one. My current big step in my spiritual growth, is to remove ‘luck’ from my life. I don’t believe in it anyway. There is no luck, only providence, blessing, skill, practice, fallen nature and punishment. That is not an exhaustive list, but the point is this, luck is unguided and uncontrolled,  the world is not. Think you can live without using the term luck? How about lucky? Fortunate or unfortunate? There are a myriad of synonyms and antonyms that I keep finding myself using in what can only be an unconscious effort to undermine God’s control over the events I see. I am learning to give God the credit that He is due, people the justice (or credit) they deserve and sin the respect it deserves.

An interesting application of this that I have run into is when I find myself having to give God the credit for ‘lucky breaks.’

For example, whenever I talk about unexpected good things that happen in my life, I endeavour to use the terms blessed, or the Lord provided. Ie: when talking about the job I now have, which is spectacularly more family friendly that almost every other chef job ever, I will say how much of a blessing it is or that the Lord certainly provided for us rather than how lucky I was to get it. Not only does it remind ME how good the Lord is, but it is testimony to what He has done in the presence of whoever I am talking with.

Let’s say I am ‘lucky’ enough to win lotto. Woo!!

Take out lucky and replace it with blessed.

If it is money that I have randomly acquired, I can therefore do what I like with it. Suddenly when it’s a gift from God, at the very least, it will produce gratitude. However, what I have found, is that it reminds me that I am a steward of what God gives me. Whenever I find myself with an unexpected windfall, I begin looking around for what God has planned for it. In my experience, part or all of it has usually immediately gone to something that came up at the same time. This has led me to believe that ‘luck’ and money especially do not go together.

Another example: earlier this year I caught a large Sampson fish. It was the peak of my year as far as fishing is concerned. An exciting capture, but it was unable to be released so I found myself with a large amount (around 10kg) of fillets. I gave nearly all of it away and in the process heard a couple of stories of people who were really blessed by the unexpected fresh fish.

The same happened with a snapper I caught in September.

My ‘lucky’ captures are part of Gods plan to bless other people.

It would also be remiss not to mention the converse: sudden windfalls (especially money related) can be ‘unlucky.’ How many stories are there of people suddenly finding themselves with money which has produced, directly or indirectly, only bitterness, anger, malice, rage… Etc

Good luck, good fortune, call it what you want, can quickly become misfortune if it is not seen in the light of God’s providence.

Removing ‘bad luck’ from your life is even harder than removing good. What can it be beside ‘bad luck’ when a person gets cancer or eaten by a shark? It may be personal judgement, but what if it’s not? It may be a result of their own foolish actions ie: swimming at dawn at a known shark hot spot, or not wearing sunscreen or getting skin checks, but what if it’s not? The fallen nature of this world is the cause of both disease and predation meaning that both cases are part of the overarching judgement on creation, but why Timmy? Unlucky? My inclination is to say that every day that you don’t die, or find yourself diagnosed with a terrible illness is only because the Lord has protected you. Death and judgement is the purest justice on Adam’s descendants, every day we live is because we are shown mercy and grace.

Finally a very personal story which I debated whether to include…

My mum had the ‘misfortune’ of dying of breast cancer. I was 11 at the time. She was a disciple of Jesus Christ with no doubt that, to paraphrase, “for her to live was Christ and to die was gain.” Physical death is a consequence, but not a punishment. By her attitude and the attitudes of our believing family and friends as her health failed I saw the strength of her faith and that was to eventually become a pillar in my own faith. She may not have taken a bullet, but by her death, she saved me. By which I mean, her physical death, which is ultimately inconsequential for her in light of eternity, had a huge consequence as part of my eternal salvation. I doubt that I am the only one for whom her death had eternal consequence either. Again, if we remove ‘luck’ from the equation, what are we left with? No, I don’t think God gave her cancer to save me (or anyone else) but a necessary consequence of sin was used as providence for eternity. For the record, no I don’t think her death was all about my salvation either. However, unguided, arbitrary luck can evaporate as I give God praise for the marvelous way that He used the fallen nature of this world in my mum, who was already eternally saved, to save me for eternity to. The Lord is good, who can fathom His infinite wisdom?

From huge life changing events, to the little things of the everyday, luck doesn’t even come close.

 

This just scratches the surface of terms that can cause us to brainwash ourselves in the way we think and act. There are plenty that are only a hazard in certain circumstances and plenty that are not single words or even phrases, but attitudes driving whatever the words we use that we need to think about what we are really saying. I started by mentioning the power of names and titles, that is another area to watch closely, especially if you start to change them. Hopefully this will get you thinking about your own choice of vocabulary and we can all learn to speak more love and peace, wisdom and providence. Who knows what effect it might have in the spiritual realm?

The Joker within

My two favourite movie characters of all time are Smaug, the dragon from Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” and The Joker, as portrayed by Heath Ledger in “The dark knight.”

I know. Who has a villain as their favourite character?! Well it’s not like a” hey, he is pretty cool. We need more Jokers in this world. I want to be just like him.” kind of favourite. I love the concept of the characters. The anarchists. We have people in the world who claim to be anarchists, but generally they are just insubordinate and or civil disobedient. These two are slightly different, but both true anarchists. They just do what they want, because they want to. To entertain themselves, no other motivation necessary. Smaug does what he wants because he believes he is above everyone. No one can harm him, not even challenge him for he is so mighty. Where asin the case of The Joker, it is more that the rules are for everyone else, to keep people in line, but he is “enlightened enough” to see that they only need to apply to the majority to achieve their purpose. An individual can flaunt them without consequence.

The Joker has a characteristic that makes him even more sinister I feel than Smaug and indeed, than Satan himself.

He has no motive.

He just does things, because. Even Satan is predicable in that he will try to steal glory from God. Claim for himself what is not his, lead others away from God. A motiveless villain is entirely unpredictable. I love the simply terrifying concept of such a dissociated bad guy.

Guess what? Sometimes I wish I was the Joker. Surely that would be freeing? Sometimes I even think I am to some extent. Perhaps we all have something similar in our character.

From time to time, I do and say things purely to see what response it will draw. Especially when interacting with strangers on the internet. Sometimes purely for my own entertainment at the reaction. Or sometimes, just to be different. To go against the flow.

Ahh… Uh oh Suddenly my uber bad guy attitude is sounding like something we encourage in church circles.

Got it?

We are to be “counter cultural.” I have heard that in many sermons, some of them good and some of them bad.

Counter cultural.

What does that even mean?

Is it acting like the Joker? Or is it acting like Jesus?

The answer is of course: both.

In both cases, the prevailing rules can be thought not to apply. However, when we are being counter cultural as followers of Christ, it is because Jesus is counter to the culture. No, that is not a circular argument.

As a bible believing follower of Jesus Christ, I understand that at present in the world, God has allowed satan to rule. Ergo, the basic culture of the world is following it’s leader. I am not. I am (or at least should be) counter to that culture. The important distinction however, is WHY I am counter to the culture.

If I am doing it for my own amusement, satisfaction, self gratification, pride etc etc then I am The Joker.

If I am doing it because my King is counter to the culture and I want to be obedient to, and become like, Him then I am becoming more like Jesus.

Are you creating your own culture that is divergent from the masses, or are you diverging from the masses in your pursuit of a Holy God whose eventual victory will usher in a culture so far removed from the dominant one of this age?

You can paddle your own canoe against the raging tide of culture, blaze your own trail like the Joker or seclude yourself away with your treasures in your fortress under the mountain if you want. I will endeavor to assimilate with Jesus’ culture and allow Him to let me know when to go against the flow.

How much are you forgiven?

Luke 7:36-48

36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

First up, let me admit that this is a passage that I have personally used to waive away a lack of passion for the Lord.

I was born into an actively Christian family, was raised with biblical morals, never really had any sort of rebellious streak and came to believe in God and Jesus Christ and made my own choice to follow Him in my early teenage years. Ergo, I felt that I had not done that many things I was ashamed of or needed to be forgiven. I have never experienced the wave of forgiveness that many “worse people” (in the eyes of the world) describe. So I explained away my lack of passion as such, “I have only been forgiven a few things, so no wonder my life hasn’t changed as drastically, see its right here in Luke 7.”

However, what I, and I am sure many evangelical Christians overlooked is that just as sin is digital, so is forgiveness.

In the eyes of God, you are either sinful or holy. There are no degrees of sinfulness. The worst sinner is as the best sinner: sinful. There are no degrees of sinfulness. In my experience, that has been taught quite thoroughly, but I feel that the implications of it are not so much.

If we are either sinful or not, then it is not possible for forgiveness to be any less than complete.

It is not possible for forgiveness to be any less than complete. 

You can’t be forgiven one sin without being forgiven of them all. You are forgiven of sin, not forgiven of A sin.

That in itself is a glorious thing to ponder.

But I want to look at how it applies in this passage.

The key fact is that “Neither of them had the money to pay him back” In the same way that it doesn’t matter what the debt is if you can’t pay it, it doesn’t matter how few sins one has committed they are still sinful.

We are all forgiven the same debt.

Our individual ‘value owed’ is irrelevant as we couldn’t pay it anyway.

So now we must be careful of semantics as it’s starting to sound like I’m saying Jesus is wrong/exaggerating/lying and of course I am not. Nor am I saying that this the only interpretation of this passage, but what has been revealed to me.

The implication is that if we are forgiven the same but our responses are different, then the difference must be in us.

I said earlier that we have been taught well the nature of sinfulness as digital, black and white, sinful and righteous, however our actions and attitudes belie the fact that we also think some people are more sinful and others less. The consequence of this belief is the attitude I mentioned earlier: “I have not been forgiven of much, that is why I don’t love much.”

That is of course a cop out.

I  want to be righteous in accepting my unrighteousness, or at least a little less unrighteous than the next person, so that I have an excuse for why I am a little less active in my thanks. At it’s worst, it is the private equivalent of the Pharisee who prays “‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11)

What I now realise, is that it’s not so much ‘how much’ have I been forgiven, with a little column graph of sins disappearing, resulting in a little column of gratitude appearing, but how much do I realise I have been forgiven. It’s a direct relationship of revelation of sins to thankfulness and love.  For some it is a one sin forgiven to one portion of love, for some every sin they know they are forgiven of results in a double, triple or hundred fold increase in love. For the prostitute, there was a sudden realisation of forgiveness of many sins, perhaps she only knew she had committed because society told her she had, and there was an outpouring of love. For Simon (and Joel), there was little love since he believed he had little that needed to be forgiven.

Whatever the case for you, I believe that the faith journey with Jesus is one marked by continual realisation of sinfulness, but also continual realisation of forgiveness and therefore a constant increase in love. Love for the One who forgives and love for those who are no better or worse than us, but sinful and forgivable all the same.

Shrinking your circles

Hands up who has ever used the phrase “There’s just not enough hours in the day.” or something similar.

How about “I can’t afford to donate to everyone.”

Or “I can’t remember to pray for everything.”

There is legitimately only so much that we as humans can do. For example, you can’t maintain a firm friendship with everyone that you are Facebook friends with. They might all be great people, people who you would love to be close with, to catch up more, to share every important detail with, but it literally is not possible.

This took a long time for me to accept, but trust me, it’s very liberating. What the Lord has been teaching me over the last couple of years has been about letting go of stuff. And by stuff I mean the desire to do His job of overseeing the running of the world.
For example: a lot of Christians, myself included, have this idea that we can’t let go of a friendship (even if its actually only an acquaintance) just in case God has it in store for us to be part of them coming to faith in Him. It’s a compelling thought. Maybe someday down the track they will have a crisis and our actions to help them out will show them Gods grace and they’ll go from there. Maybe they will have a question about Jesus raised in their life and we will be the only Christian person they know to ask.

Maybe maybe maybe.

But then, how little credit do we give to God for their salvation? How small of a God will be thwarted by our clicking the ‘unfriend’ button on someone that we haven’t spoken to in 10 years? Surely He has a plan B. Surely the plan B was actually his plan A all along, we just thought that ‘maybe’ story that we came up with was plan A but now He will have to go with His backup.

Although decreasing my FB friend list was where this started for me, and that was also a branch into some other important stuff in my relationship with God, that’s not the main thrust of what I want to get at.

What I want to say to you is to go for quality over quantity in so many more ways than one.

It’s about simplifying life

But not in a cheesy hallmark kinda way and even less so in a buddist/hippie/earth child kinda way.
This is about removing the overwhelm.
The information saturation
The need saturation
The sheer amount of information that we are assaulted with each and every day in every area of life.

I have said before and will say again, no time is harder to live in than any other, but each has its challenges and malaise. The data overload of the internet/social media/instant worldwide communication is the challenge of our time.

Why?

I believe it is because it has cause a shallowing of everything that we do. Relationships are weak because we have so many that we cannot invest in them what we need to. Neighborhoods are week because we are so busy trying to get inside to see what our 875 facebook friends on the other side of the country/world are up to, that we don’t say hi to the person next door who could actually help us when we are in need.

Ok, need to bring this around to a point because this is not a rant against social media…

The solution is to invest in what you have.
For me, it always comes back to investing in people in one way or another. Shrink your circle of friends so that when a genuine need arises, you are free to provide. Invest in a few select relationships. By no means am I saying that you should throw the rest away. I am simply saying don’t expect to be close to everyone. Don’t even try. This comes back to trying to run the world for God. Just because you are not someones best friend, doesn’t mean they are alone. No, believe it or not, they will have another person who will become their best friend. Of course when an acquaintance needs help that you can provide, provide it.
An analogy perhaps… Imagine a bunch of small bubbles on the surface of a large sphere. All of the bubbles are being slowly inflated so each must eventually envelope the whole sphere.
One of the bubble is you, the sphere is the earth. Will you make it?
Of course not!
But with the knowledge of what is going on all over the world available at our fingertips, that is kinda what is expected of us these days. Everyone has to care for everything. So the value of care available is practically zero.
Now imagine a similar scenario, but each of the small bubbles is just holding strong in its little spot, side by side with all the others, perhaps even with a little overlap. Can you see the picture? In both cases, the whole world will be cared for, but not everyone has to care for everything.
Each of us has to let go of some stuff that we can’t control. In the analogy, it appears that we are letting it go to the locals to sort out, well, yes and no, that is why its only an analogy. I am saying that when you let it go, let it go to God. He alone is all knowing, all powerful and sovereign. I’m going to try not to sound callous here, but the problems on the other side of the world are not mine to sort out. I couldn’t anyway. So I use the one powerful tool I have, I go to my hotline to God and say ‘hey this stuff is not cool, could you please sort it out.’

That’s it. Then I move on.

It’s not that I don’t care, just that I realise that is the most powerful thing I can do.

However: when the rubber hits the road and God has something for me to do in my own little bubble… A physical need that I can physically fulfil… I can’t shy away.

Our ability to help is more powerful the less it is stretched.

Ok, so now we are focusing our efforts into cases and causes that are closer to home, but there are still a myriad of things I need and want to do for my own entertainment.

Guess what? My advice is the same.

Start cutting back.

I was a member of a couple of dozen fishing groups on facebook, they alone would over fill my newsfeed. I left nearly all of them. Now I see every post that goes through the groups that I am still in, not just the ones that get lots of hits.

I had several hobbies. If I had some spare time I had to choose, will I go for a ride or take my kayak out? Neither of those is better or worse, but I made the choice that kayaking would be my number one. Not only does that mean that suddenly I was doing a lot more kayaking, but it freed up a bunch of $$ that were being split across different hobbies. I now spend more on kayak/fishing gear, but still spend less overall.

It also flows into that relational aspect from earlier. I now have much more time and energy to input into building relationships in the yakfishing community.

When Amy and I renovated our front yard, a large part of our thought process revolved around making a usable space where we could interact with our neighbors, both immediate and those passing by in the street. We wanted (God wanted us?) to be open to meeting those around us. The people who one day might knock on our door and ask us to meet a need. Now I’m mindful that this sounds like the ‘maybe’ stories that I started with, but the difference is that this is real world, hard and fast, assistance. I don’t want to belittle those of you who do maintain excellent relationships via social media, but far more common is the ‘arms length’ connection. It’s kinda like the bystander effect (bunch of people see an accident but no one helps because they assume that someone else will) but with social media there are literally thousands of ‘bystanders’ at every ‘accident’ and we feel under little or no obligation to assist and no guilt for doing nothing because ‘someone else’ will.

The worst effect of this is on the ‘victim.’

How lonely does it feel to know that you have 875 friends and not one of them came to your aid?

I’m certainly guilty of lacking in social media compassion.

That is why I want to build strong personal relationships with people. That in turn is why I have let some relationships go. That is why I had to remove those who I knew I couldn’t help in a time of need. My ‘presence’ but lack of help would just be another tiny cut to add to their pain. Don’t get me wrong, if you turn up on my doorstep with nothing but the clothes on your back, I’ll still help you, but I don’t want to be a bystander in a world of pain.

Now I, as one person alone, cannot remedy the situation. I hope the people ‘nearby’ those who are suffering will help them, but I cannot be certain of it. However, what I am certain of, is that if I spread myself too thin, I won’t really help anyone.

Ever.

So I pull back and build those places where I can strengthen, encourage and assist.

I implore you to do the same.