A few months ago, I spent a few days on the Big Horn River in southern Montana.  I went  with a bunch of friends to have fun, bond and learn about fly fishing.

Although the river was packed with fish and I could literally see hundreds of trout swimming through the lucent waters, on the first day I didn’t catch a single fish.  Experienced anglers all around were pulling in beautiful brown and rainbow trout with seemingly prolific ease.

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On the second day, Tyler, our guide for the day, navigated us up and down the river in a drift boat. This allowed us to slowly meander down the river and cast our lines for hours.  Although it was peaceful and relaxing, the lack of catching any fish became rather frustrating.  I continually asked Tyler why the fish weren’t biting.  He kindly said, “The fish are always biting.”  He then sagaciously repeated a line he had implored us with a hundred times. “Don’t take your eyes of the indicator.”

Tyler selected the ideal bait, navigated our drift boat to the best locations on the river and gave us the incredible advice… the only thing he asked, was to keep our eyes on the indicator.  The indicator, is a small brightly colored ball, attached to the fishing line and it floats on the surface of the water. When a fish nibbles at the bait, the indicator will quiver or bobble ever so slightly. The moment the indicator moves in an irregular way, all I was supposed do was instantly raise the pole high above my head.  This abrupt upwards motion  is supposed to hook a fish that is nibbling the fly at the end of the line.

For the first day and a half on the Big Horn, I virtually never saw any movement of the indicator.  If I thought the indicator moved, hesitation would delay my response and the pulling of the line would result in nothing. I continually got distracted by the beauty all around, with the wind, undulating rivers edge or with a conversation with the other guys on the trip.

Before long, I started realizing that the indicator was in fact moving all the time.  I began to realize that the fish were actually always nibbling, just as Tyler had said.  But, I also realized that if I didn’t strike immediately, each opportunity would quickly pass.  Shortly after this realization, I zoned in and locked eyes on the indicator with a new found focus.  Only a few moments passed and the indicator twitched. I raised the rod aggressively, and a fish was on the line! After two minutes of wrangling and reeling, my first fish was in the boat! It was an 18 inch Brown Trout!

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Four more fish were reeled in that day.  The next day the number was 15.  What changed from day one to day three? I actually did what Tyler had been telling me, “Don’t take your eyes of the indicator.”

Whatever we seek to accomplish in life, is actually quite similar to fly fishing.  There are indicators that we so often fail to pay attention to, and they are often right in front of us. When we fail to realize this, we miss many opportunities to land the big one… or worse, we don’t land anything at all.  So many people drift aimlessly through life, hoping for success, without keeping eyes on the indicator.

There are three principles to be understood and applied here.  In order to achieve any measure of success, we must:

  1. Define Our Indicator
  2. Watch Our Indicator
  3. React To Our Indicator

I believe that God has a beautiful plan for each of our lives.  His desire for us is to give us a “hope and a future” according to Jeremiah 29:11. So why does it so often seem like we aren’t experiencing hope or stepping into the incredible future God desires for us?  Could it be that we don’t know what our indicator is, or that we don’t keep our eyes focused on the indicator long enough to see the movement and act?

2 Chronicles 16:11 says it this way, “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually.”  If God’s plans for us are in fact good, we need to make Him our indicator. We need to figure out how to keep our eyes on him, waiting and watching for His movement.

So here is the challenge… make God your indicator. Seek to know God continually, rely on His strength and ultimately find yourself in His presence on a regular basis! Day by day, moment by moment, we must be training ourselves to keep our eyes, minds and hearts on Him.  If we do so, we will soon notice the subtle and frequent movements of the divine indicator. We will recognize the subtle movements He makes, indicating when we should move. o9When this happens, we must act!

Don’t take your eyes off of the indicator!”

One thought on “Lessons from Fly Fishing: 3 Steps To Recognizing Opportunities for Success

  1. Jason what a great illustration of the Christian walk. Enjoyed it a lot. You may want to edit it. Love you son and especially praying for you and Jen your work and the future.


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