The Greatest Catch

June 2, 2010 | 21 comments

I was stretched long on the front of that Lund boat, with a Berkley fishing rod dangling over the water. My father had one hand on the motor, gently steering our vessel over reefs where walleye hovered.

I was just a scrawny kid. I hadn’t even met the man I’d marry, but that didn’t matter. A girl could dream. When you’re hundreds of feet offshore, and when the hours and the shadows grow long, your mind wanders. Mine fast-fowarded to the altar, and to the man who’d wear the tuxedo and the gold band on his finger. My man.

Even back when I wore braces and a training bra, I was a type-A planner girl — not one to overlook the important details. Like this:

Dad? I flashed a grin to my father at the back of the Lund. When I get married, I’ve gotta have a fisherman because someone needs to pilot my boat.

And somewhere on another lake, with another father, a boy in a boat dreamed of a girl who knew how to bait her own hook.


I don’t recall anymore who caught who, but we were both hooked right away. Seventeen years after we fell in love, he still says we’re “soul mates.”

It’s been years of dirty socks and PMS
and an occasional slammed door and
yes, some tears
but more so,
it’s love notes tucked under bedpillows and
joy birthed
in babies
and in the soil
and two Bibles marked in green highlighter.

The years are showing in the wrinkles and in the pages of the Bibles and in the nicks on the hardwood floors — and, of course, in the exaggerated fishing tales. (They get bigger with time, you know.)

He’s my favorite farmer, and he knows what it is to plant things in good soil. So he found someone to tend to the chores for a few days because, for us, a lot of life has unfolded in the confines of 18-foot fishing boats. There’s good soil for the planting even out on open water, and the farmer knows it.

They say that the family who prays together, stays together. And might we play together, too?

Who said holy matrimony had to be boring?

The four of us headed north last week to the land of the pines and loons — and gigantic mosquitos — for a five-day vacation.

We slipped slimy nightcrawlers on hooks, and stetched out limbs and poles and souls wide open on glassy lakes.

And yes, it was romantic and holy. Some women want the bouquets and the diamonds and the poems. I find love in a dirty, grimy, slimy shell of a fishing boat. I fall head over heels all over again with the boy I dreamed about years ago.

He baits a hook, and I’m smitten.

I’m at the front of a fishing boat, with the man I love.

And all these years later, I still think he’s the greatest catch.

holy experience

It’s June — the month of anniversaries, including our own. Over at Ann Voskamp’s place, she asks her community of writers to consider: The Spiritual Practice of Holy Matrimony.

And I keep thinking about how holy and fun it is to be married to a fisherman. And I keep thinking too how important it is for couples to make time for fun together. When it gets busy and we need a break, Scott and I joke that Jesus really wants us to go fishing. (After all, Jesus had a soft spot for fishermen, too.)

PHOTO: My favorite farmer, in one of our favorite places, on enchanting Mule Lake near Longville, Minnesota.

by | June 2, 2010 | 21 comments


  1. Beth

    Great post Jennifer! I am married to a fisherman, and great hunter! We have a pond in our back yard stocked with fish. Next time your in NE Iowa stop by and catch some bluegill!

  2. marnie

    Lovely! I've been thinking I need to play more with my best friend 🙂 Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    oh, so awesome, jennifer! I am not married to a traditional fisherman or a hunter, but my man fishes for souls as he is a preacher…

    I just love your heart and the way you word things. Amazing.

  4. jasonS

    Great post. Matrimony does sound boring, doesn't it? Glad it's not and we can appreciate the adventure for everything it's worth. Thanks!

  5. Lyla Lindquist

    I was looking for the pinata…

    Your Mule Lake stories always remind me of my childhood days at my grandparents' resort on Mille Lacs. I think my old beach fronts a casino now…

    Glad you were able to get away and smell the lake for a while. He does seem close to the water.

  6. Alexis

    I'm all tears over here! Beautiful post!

  7. lynnrush

    LOVE this. I just love hearing stories of love after many years of marriage. It just makes my heart swell.

    I'm heading toward my 14th year of marriage in August. He's a good ole Iowa boy right there from Sioux Center, IA!

    Thanks for sharing this post!

  8. Rosario

    love your story. Its like I am reading a romance novel. Beautiful.

  9. Stephani

    Love this. My husband is a big fisherman as well and I enjoy being right along with him. There's even a picture of me with my trout stringer on my about me page. I also liked the symbolism of "someone needs to pilot my boat" as the husband is the head of the household. Glad you found your fisherman and your pilot!

  10. A Simple Country Girl

    Isn't is amazing how young love is rekindled in dirt and grime and sweat? Give me a husband who wants me working alongside him building fence any day over one toting foo-foo and frilly baubles.

    Yes, a girl does like some flowers every now and then, but that is why I pluck them from a field or buy a bunch all by my very capable self. 😉


  11. Graceful

    Just catching up on your recent posts, Jennifer. This one is so sweet — and I'm so glad to have met your quiet farmer-fisherman in person!

    Loved the post about Paul, "Bop" below, too.

  12. Duane Scott

    You make me want to get married. And here I thought I'd always have to go fishing by myself. Just gotta find the right girl that can bait a hook.

    Wait, I already did.

    I recently wrote a post on fishing too! Love it.

  13. Karen

    This is the sweetest post…may your anniversary be a most special one!

  14. Heather of Swallowing A Moose

    I SO agree with this entire post! It sounds like myself & hubs…well except for the kids part. We are still waiting impatiently for our mystery adoption to unfold.

  15. Laura

    OOh! Happy Anniversary! We just celebrated our 17th too! I love your love story. Fishers of man? Only one needed (grin). Very sweet, Jennifer.

  16. Amy in Peru

    I SO love your story. And the words. We're only a few years behind you all and too we're still happy in love.

    amy in peru

  17. Red Letter Believers

    You brought tears to my eyes…and you know why.

    Don't ever lose that gleam in your eye.

  18. ~*Michelle*~

    Oh, I loved this, Jennifer……happy anniversary!

    I loved this the most:
    "It's been years of dirty socks and PMS
    and an occasional slammed door and
    yes, some tears……."

    You have such a way with words…..

    …..and you always make me smile.

  19. Warren Baldwin

    Neat post! I believe God meant for husbands and wives to find joy in each other, just as you have described here. Good job.

  20. Sara

    Never liked fishing … guess too much of a land girl. However, my hubby and I enjoy scampering away for a finger nail dirty time of camping, building fires, digging holes, enjoying us and now our boys. Jennifer, loved this post! And thanks for the encouragement as I am joining Ann at Holy Experience. It's going to be a fresh time of realness of me coming out.

    Desert hugs,

  21. alicia

    Love this!! I love fishing the lakes of Minnesota- those are my favorite vacation memories. Now I'm longing for the lake. 😉


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