Catfish, Confusion, and #5 Circle Hooks

Beware the hook!

In the natural world catfish are the fresh-water rulers of the dark depths near the bottom—tough skinned and insatiable in their foraging for food. They eat whatever they find, wherever they find it, with little or no investigation or concern. They see it, they swim over to it, and if they can catch it, they swallow it. Over time, like us, they grow fat off the garbage they ingest.

The secret to successful jug fishing is really no secret at all. Take a #5 circle hook and cover it with something that smells really bad or looks really good. I prefer the latter and a live hand-sized bream is almost too much for a big ole catfish. You suspend that delectable piece of squirming sushi in the water and look out—it will be an evening of fun as you sit back and anticipate those golden brown filets melting in your mouth.

We are a lot more like catfish than most of us would like to think. Living in the dim shadows near the bottom, we tend to grow fat off the debris of worthless teachings and the decaying scraps of sermonic cadavers instead of swimming up near the top where the water is warm and the food is fresh, and our ancient enemy is fully aware of these tendencies.

He knows our feeding habits and how easy it is to confuse us. He cleverly baits his hooks with forbidden morsels that seem to dance in the dim water we are used to swimming in. The bait is not the issue; it’s the exploitation of the fish’s hunger that lands it on the hook and on the stringer. And so it is with us; we can blame the devil and his tackle box filled with an alluring assortment of baits, but the real culprit is the lust that resides deep within each of us.

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and entrapped by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:14-15). The bait simply excites the lust, and in the accompanying confusion of our feeding frenzy, the barbed hook finds its mark, or as we might say in the mother tongue of a jug fisherman—“Fifty pounds of catfish ain’t a bad night for ten empty milk jugs, some #5 circle hooks, and seven or eight scrawny bream. Grab the filet knife—heat up the oil—we got fish to fry!”