Salt Strong Presents: Fillets Of Soul (VIDEO)
By: Joe Simonds on December 11, 2018
God is great!
Over the past few years, my brother Luke and I have witnessed some pretty amazing things through Salt Strong.
From the daily testimonials that our private “Insider” members send us, to helping anglers of all different kinds of levels to create unforgettable memories with their loved ones out on the water, to new friendships, to even watching a handful of frustrated weekend warriors go pro since joining our community, it’s been one heck of a ride.
But by far the most rewarding part of our job is when we hear about entire communities being impacted due to something they learned at Salt Strong (like the story below).
Here is what one of our Insider members emailed me after a podcast I recorded titled, “Why do you fish?”
———- New email message ———-
From: Greg Batchelor
Date: Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 11:02 AM
Subject: Our Story: Fillets of Soul
To: Joe & Luke from Salt Strong <Fish@saltstrong.com>
About 4 years ago in church, a pastor told our congregation to “Find something you have a passion for, and do it for Jesus.”
I walked out of church talking to myself… I remember being incredibly passionate about catching tons of walleye and giving it away back in Ohio. Then I asked myself, why can’t we do that here in Florida?
Hence, Fillets of Soul was born.
But we had a problem… we had no boat… and were desperately looking for a decent boat that we could actually afford.
Cindy, my wife, told me after many frustrating attempts to find the right boat on Craiglist, “The boat you are looking for will come to you.”
Two weeks later, a lady came up to me and said she wanted us to use her boat… she was a real estate agent who had no time to use her center console. I told her at least three separate times that I did not want to borrow a boat, but she insisted.
But then another problem arose once I was able to use her boat…
You see, we had always trolled for fish in Lake Erie. That’s all we knew. But now we were faced with a completely different type of fishing here in Florida. In the beginning, we barely caught enough fish for just us, let alone enough to give any fish away.
However, I started reading all your posts on Salt Strong, and I decided to become an Insider so I could really learn to fish in the bay.
After we started venturing out in the flats, using different lines, baits etc., we were catching more fish… but still not enough for God’s Glory.
So we put it on hold, prayed for God’s direction, and he told us to feed more people.
I said, “Well Lord… if you want us to feed more people we need more fish”!
BAAM, the very next trip out, we caught more fish than any prior trip.
Around this time, we also connected with Meet Me on the Streets Ministry, a group that feeds the homeless and needy on a weekly basis and we set up a date to give fish to them.
Praise God, we prepared eighty (yes, 80) Fish Sandwiches for the homeless that Tuesday! We had our fish three weeks sooner than expected.
We now fish on Monday and Thursdays, and we prepare extra fish for their feedings on Tuesday.
We also take out different men who like to fish but don’t have an opportunity to do so on a regular basis. Some of these guys I meet with as an accountability partner.
Salt Strong will always be a part of us, and I will be a life member. What I have learned from being in the club has ramped up our catching more fish!
My wife and I still love to fish more than ever, but our passion is what we do with what we catch, for others.
We are NOT a 501 C, but see this as our personal ministry. Either way, we know that God is guiding us.
Salt Strong was and is integral to our catching fish. We have and are learning to fish the flats as best as possible with your help.
I could go on, but that is an overview of Fillets of Soul. Thanks for your interest in hearing our story, Joe. You guys just rock!
A few months later, we took the cameras out to see this for ourselves.
Here’s what we captured below.
Salt Strong Presents: Fillets Of Soul
If you’d like to read the full story, then continue reading below.
The Miracle In Ruskin…
This image was taken just minutes before we received the devasting news from Greg that Monday morning…
Before I tell you what happened, let me give you some quick background info on this story:
- We only had my videographer buddy Sergio for two days… so everything had to go perfectly…
- Monday was for designated for fishing, and Tuesday was the day that we had to deliver all of the fish to the homeless…
- So rain or shine we had one day to catch enough fish, clean enough fish, and show up to the big day with enough fish to feed 40+ people…
- We had to schedule all this out 40 days ahead of time, so there was no telling what the weather and fishing would be like that Monday…
Luke, myself, Sergio, and Christian (his video assistant) all met up at Greg and Cindy’s house to go over the game plan for the day.
We all knew that we needed an amazing day on the water if we were going to catch enough fish to feed 40+ people the next day.
The tides weren’t great (not much movement that day), but at least it was sunny…
Luke brought his 17″ Maverick and Greg, his wife Cindy, and his buddy Brad planned on fishing out of Greg’s boat.
We launched in Ruskin (at E.G. Simmons park).
Luke and I launched his boat first and then waited for Greg to back his boat down (picture above).
Minutes later, it happened…
Greg kept looking back at the engine.
“The boat won’t start… something’s not right.”
Our dreams of having the perfect day took an abrupt halt.
After tinkering around with the engine for twenty minutes, Greg knew it wasn’t going to start.
But he wasn’t willing to give up, and he thought it might be a wiring issue…
Greg hopped in his car and went looking for an auto parts store where he could buy some wires.
The rest of us waited at the dock, praying for a miracle…
The morning bite was already shot by the time he made it back with some wires.
Luke and I fished around the boat ramp to take the pressure off around Greg’s boat.
Everyone was quiet as we waited for Greg to change out the wires and give it another shot.
The engine wouldn’t start.
To make matters worse, he didn’t have a trolling motor on the boat…
So we did something we’ve never done before…
We Towed Greg’s Boat From The Ramp To The Closest Fishing Spot We Could Find…
We had no idea how this was going to play out, but it was our only choice.
We had too much riding on this (and too many people depending on us for food the next day).
Luke did a great job of dropping them off in a spot on the flats right near a channel, and a minute later Greg was anchored and ready to fish from his non-running boat.
I remember looking over at Luke and nodding with a slight smile on my face.
It was go-time.
More importantly, it was trust in God time… (let me tell you, there was some serious prayer going on in both of our boats).
We had to catch fish. We couldn’t let these people down.
Greg’s wife Cindy and his buddy Brad were using shrimp. Greg started with shrimp and them moved to a paddle tail.
The first 30 minutes were slow and we couldn’t help but start thinking that this day could be a bust…
Greg asked if we could move his boat up a bit to a different area about 100 feet away.
Still no luck…
But then it happened.
Tight lines! Fish On!
It was a miracle indeed!
Here we were, hours late getting on the water, having to tow the boat to a spot (that was in throwing casting distance from the shore), and we miraculously started catching fish!
Lots of them!
Tons of trout, a small flounder, and even a bonnethead shark.
Before we knew it, the live well was looking full!
After a few hours, we had enough fish to call it a successful day (and we knew it was going to take a while to tow Greg’s boat back and get it back on the trailer without any engine).
It was a bit of a challenge docking the boat at the ramp without an engine or trolling motor, but we managed to get him safely up to the dock without any damage.
We had little snafu with pulling the boat up the ramp (the bilge pump wasn’t working and there was hundreds upon hundreds of extra pounds of water in the hull), but we finally had it out and were on our way to Greg’s home.
Back at Greg’s house, the fishing cleaning began.
Greg whipped out his awesome homemade cleaning station and went to town on the fish like a pro.
The next step was fish prep.
We watched as Greg and Cindy prepared the fish with some love, stuck it in the fridge for the night, and then Luke and I went back to Luke’s place in Tampa where we talked about just how lucky we were to catch as many fish as we did.
It was like every force imaginable was going against us, yet God prevailed.
The following day we met back at Greg and Cindy’s place to help them cook up all of the fish.
And when I say help, I mean we sat there and talked while Greg and Cindy did all of the work (they were in a groove, and any help from us was just getting in the way).
After all of the fish was cooked to perfection, we wrapped it up, packed it in a cooler, and shot over to meet Chris and Dave (from Meet Me On The Streets Ministries) at the parking lot where they feed the homeless and needy.
When we first arrived, there weren’t that many people. I wasn’t really sure if this was normal or not.
But then, seemingly out of nowhere, new faces started showing up.
Some walked directly from the woods behind the parking lot (where they live before they are kicked out and forced to sleep somewhere else).
Some came on broken down bikes that barely inched along.
Some came on foot from nearby shelters.
Before we knew it, there were 40+ homeless men and women with us.
Chris, one of the directors for Meet Me On The Street Ministries, asked everyone to come together and hold hands in a circle.
It was a long prayer… a powerful prayer… a prayer filled with emotion and love…
I honestly don’t remember exactly what she said, but I do remember crying (and I remember hearing other people crying around me).
Here I was, holding hands and praying for the same men and women that I usually pass by on the streets without even a second glance… the same men and women who serve the same God as I do… the same men and women God calls his children…
And for the first time in many years, it hit me just how equal we are in God’s eyes.
Turned out, I needed this event just as much as some of the homeless men did.
After wiping away the tears from my face, I began to talk with some of these men.
I could see both the pain and love in their eyes.
They were broken, but they hadn’t given up hope.
And most of their faith came from seeing people like Greg, Cindy, Chris, Dave, and all of the people who took time out of their busy lives to serve these men and women fresh food, to encourage them to give their lives to Christ, and to love them like they were family…
Cindy summed it up incredibly well in the video…
“These are our friends… our neighbors… and you do it for your neighbors…”
To Greg, Cindy, Chris, Dave, Brad, and the entire crew, thank you for letting us be a part of this. It was two days that I will never forget.
“Fisher of men”
For more on Meet Me In The Streets Ministries, click here.
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