Snarled by Randy Rowley 7/4/19 ©


On a hot and muggy morning in late June, Ryan, my son, and I launched at the Marker 37 Marina in Corpus Christi and headed to the Packery Channel’s south jetty.  We found a spot devoid of jetty fishermen, activated my Minn Kota Terrova Riptide’s anchor lock, and started to offer live shrimp, cut bait, and artificial lures.

We caught a few croakers and perch but no game fish.  After about 30 minutes, we grew tired of losing our shrimp for no tasty rewards and headed to the large hole just west of the 361 bridge, where the water drops around 27 feet.  I positioned my boat equally between the shore fishermen, activated my Riptide’s anchor lock, and we resumed fishing.

We fished for about 30 minutes and again caught non-game fish but mostly lost shrimp.  We were about to leave and try another spot when a couple of bay boats pulled about 25 yards in front of us and started fishing.  A fisherman in the first boat almost immediately had a fish on, and a fisherman in the second boat quickly followed suit.  They both soon landed their fish.

For the next 30 minutes, we watched them catch fish after fish.  The boats didn’t stay at one spot for long and weaved around each other in what looked like a drunken dance while we continued catching non-game fish.

Eventually, the crew of one of the boats either grew tired or ran out of bait, and their boat started to head north.  As they neared us, I asked the boat’s captain what they caught and what they caught them on.  He replied that they caught black drum with live shrimp on jigheads and suggested that I move my boat closer to the bridge.

Following his advice, I moved my boat forward about 25 yards.  I’d never fished a shrimp on a jighead before and wasn’t sure how to bait the hook.  After trying a couple of riggings, I settled on pushing the jighead’s hook in below the shrimp’s brain, working it along with the natural curve of its body, and then exiting near the tail.  Ryan baited his shrimp the same way, and we resumed fishing.  Instead of letting the jigheads sit, we slowly rolled them back to my boat.

In a few seconds, Ryan said, “Here we go!” as line started stripping off his reel.  I reeled in my shrimp quickly and then got the landing net.  Ryan fought the fish midship, but it ran for the stern when it saw my boat.  Ryan also had put out a double hook rig with cut baits and a live perch on another rig that the fish promptly wrapped his line around.  That was a blessing, as the other lines hindered its ability to run.

It finally came to the top, and I netted it – a 24-inch-long black drum.  It was Ryan’s biggest bay fish to date.  We took a couple of pictures and put the drum in my boat’s fish box.

I resumed fishing while Ryan worked on sorting out his tangled lines.  Soon I felt the pull of a game fish and reeled in a 15-inch-long black drum (an inch beyond the minimal length).  After putting it in the fish box, I rebaited with a fresh shrimp and resumed fishing.

I had a big hit and a fish on within a few seconds.   I knew it was a big fish, so I set the hook twice while calling for Ryan to get the net.  I got the fish up to the surface at my boat’s bow, but it dove back down as soon as it saw my boat.  Eventually, I got a good look at it – a black drum equal to Ryan’s fish, or better.

I got it up four more times midship, where Ryan waited with the net.  But each time it saw my boat, it’d make another run.  Ryan tried to net it a couple of times, but the black drum wouldn’t stay still long enough to allow him to do it.  I was worried that the drag on my Lew’s Laser Speed Spool reel wasn’t powerful enough to wear it out.

After I brought it up the fifth time, it again made another run.  This time the hook came out and came right back at me.  Its lip was probably torn sufficiently enough for the jighead’s hook to slip out.

Sighing at losing probably the biggest bay fish I’d ever hooked and seen, I rebaited with a fresh shrimp and resumed fishing.

In a few seconds, I had another hit and a fish on.  At first, I thought it was another 15-inch-long fish, but it made a run when it saw my boat.  I now knew it was another big fish and excitedly called for the net.  At first, it fought like the previous fish – each time it saw my boat, it would run.  But I more easily managed it, and it finally tired.

Ryan netted it on his second try, but the black drum slipped out as he brought the net out of the water.  Ryan quickly netted it again and got it into my boat.  It was 21 inches long and my third-longest bay fish to date.  After taking a couple of pictures, we put it in my boat’s fish box.

I quickly rebaited with a fresh shrimp and cast to the starboard side of my boat’s bow.  But my jighead abruptly stopped in midair after only flying about 20 feet.  Ryan had rebaited his double rig with cut bait and put it in one of the vertical rod holders on my boat’s center console.  Unfortunately, my jighead’s hook caught on his rod’s line, resulting in one of my worst snarls since I started fishing with baitcasters at age 16.

A snarl happens when the lure slows down or stops in flight after casting, but the spool does not – resulting in a tangled mess of line at the reel.  It’s also known as a ‘backlash,’ ‘bird’s nest,’ and ‘over-run.  A baitcasting reel’s propensity to snarl probably discourages people the most from using one.

I spent a few seconds trying to pick the snarl out but quickly realized it’d take a long time.  I switched the jighead to another one of my baitcasting rod and reel combos and resumed fishing, but, unfortunately, the bite was over.  We fished for a few more minutes, but as we needed to clean the fish and join the rest of our family at the beach, we called it a day.

Later that night, I resumed work on my reel.  I got some of the snarl out but soon hit a roadblock and couldn’t pull out any more line, even with pliers.  So I cut the line in a few places and resumed working on it, but again ran into the same problem.  Finally, after cutting out more than half of the line on the spool, I realized I’d have to cut the remainder out and respool the reel.

Jesus said to his disciples in Mark 9:43-47, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”

Tragically, some Christians have mistakenly applied Jesus’ words literally and have mutilated their bodies in their battles with sin.  A problem with such a literal translation, other than the physical effects of self-mutilation, is that dismembering our bodies doesn’t control sin, as sin is a matter of the mind choosing to sin rather than a limb or organ making such a choice.  Our thoughts come before we act with our hands, feet, eyes, etc.

Jesus didn’t demand self-mutilation; instead, he, as strongly as possible, addressed the disciples’ erroneous thinking that going to heaven was the result of good works and wasn’t related to repentance (turning from the direction we were heading and turning to God).

Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes,”  James 4:7b says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  But sometimes, when we can’t put on God’s full armor or resist Satan because we’re too weak from unconfessed sin and not allowing Jesus to be our Lord, our best choice is to cut out what’s causing the problem like I cut out that snarled line in my baitcasting reel after that June fishing trip.

That might mean cutting out an attitude, activity, or even a relationship.  Hebrews 12:1b says, “Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  We must cut out and offer to God whatever in our lives continues to snarl u short of our body parts.

The Snarl



A live shrimp rigged on my jighead

A better way to rig a live shrimp on a jighead

Categories : Devotionals

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Bible Verse of the Day

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”