The Best Fisherman in the World

osprey fish

One night, many years ago, I had a dream. In my dream I was told to call my then eight-year-old grandson and tell him that there was a gift waiting for each of us underneath a huge, old, dead tree, about a mile from his house. For a moment, I wondered which tree the gift could be under? Maybe it was the tree over-looking the lake with a large nest on top that we so often walked by? I knew that the bird that occupied the nest was an osprey and they are fantastic fishers. I felt confident that this must be the correct tree. (When I think about it, I think that the osprey was talking to me in my dream.)

I called my grandson the next morning and told him about my dream. We decided to walk to the osprey nest. When we arrived it was early morning and the lake was sparkling with sunshine. We spotted the tree from the road and climbed down the hill to look beneath the tree. The ospreys were already out fishing. Suddenly, my grandson excitedly exclaimed, “Look Grandpa, I found your gift!” as he pointed to a perfect raven feather. The raven had always been a special bird to me, and my grandson knew it. As I reached to pick up the raven feather, I spotted his gift a couple of feet below mine – a beautiful,  osprey feather with seven stripes on it. I explained to him that those stripes had a special meaning in the Native American culture and that they had to do with what is known as the Seven Directions – North, South, East, West, Earth, Sky, and the seventh, our Heart, the place where God’s spirit lives within us.

We were both excited about our gifts. As I climbed back up the steep hill to the road, I realized my grandson was not right behind me. Looking down, I saw him with his arms wrapped around the old tree. It looked as though he was praying. When he climbed back up the hill, I asked him what he was praying about?  He said ,”I was asking the osprey to make me the best fisherman in the world.”

Seven years later, at the age of fifteen, he won The Junior Bass Master World Championship. He won it again at the age of eighteen. His prayer was answered. He indeed became The Best (Junior) Fisherman in the World.

My Grandson, Joey Nania is now 25 years old and living in Alabama. He is happily married with two small boys of his own. He is a professional bass angler, fishing guide, and co-host of his own fishing show – Sweetwater Fishing TV.

How the Turtle Won the Race

Many years have passed since this story was told by the lake animals.

Every year, in the spring, all of the wild animals who lived near the lake would gather together for a race. They had done this many times and the eagle always won. He could fly the highest, he was the fastest, and he could see the farthest of all the other creatures. He was proud of his position and boasted of it often.

In the early spring, he would call together all of the birds, the land animals, and the water animals to discuss who would be brave enough to race him and become the “Chosen One.” Eagle was always certain that he would maintain his position as the winner. 

One spring morning, on the day of the race, the darkness was gone and the morning sun was causing the lake to sparkle. Eagle had not shown up yet and the animals began to talk. Who would try to out-do the eagle this year? Much to their surprise, tiny Turtle rose out of the lake and came forward, bravely exclaiming, “I will race the eagle.” Everybody laughed. Rabbit, Crow, and many of the other faster animals had tried before, never being able to run or fly fast enough to beat Eagle. How in world could a little turtle ever expect to beat Eagle? “I have a plan,” said Turtle. “And I think I can outsmart Eagle.”

Suddenly there was the loud whistle of Eagle, as he soared over them and landed in the middle of their circle. He pranced around, acting very proud, “Well, who will race me?” he asked. Much to
Eagle’s surprise, Turtle slowly walked up beside him and answered, “I will race you, but I need you to take me to the start.” Eagle agreed, and Turtle climbed on to his back. The animals watched in amazement, and in awe of Turtle’s bravery.

eagle flying

Eagle thought, “I will take this little guy on an exciting and scary ride!” So Eagle took off, flying higher and higher over the lake, purposely performing for the crowd, confident that he was scaring poor little Turtle. When they were high above the water, just over the starting line, Turtle said, “Let’s go!!!”as he jumped off of Eagle’s back!! The crowd below gasped! Eagle couldn’t believe his eyes!!! Turtle was falling very fast toward the water, in a perfect dive! Turtle knew that his shell would protect him when he hit the water. Eagle started diving toward the lake, as he had done hundreds of times before while fishing. He tucked in his wings and was falling very fast, but as hard as he tried, he could not catch Turtle.

The race was over! Turtle had won, and when he poked his head out of the lake all of the animals and birds cheered loudly! As they declared Turtle, the “Chosen One,” each animal realized that size and strength and speed were not the only things that made one a winner. Using one’s mind and being brave was important too – and anyone can be a winner.