“Wilford Woodruff, Fisherman of the Lord,” Friend, June 2001, 34–35
From the Lives of the Church Presidents
(Adapted from The Lord Needed a Prophet, by Susan Arrington Madsen, pages 61–71, and The Illustrated Story of President Wilford Woodruff, by Annette C. Hullinger, pages 30–33.)
Wilford Woodruff, Fisherman of the Lord
When Wilford Woodruff was a boy, he went fishing as often as he could.
Wilford: Hey Azmon, look at this! Two fish on one hook!
Azmon: Wow, Wilford! They must really like those bird-feather flies you’ve been making.
He and his brother Azmon were known as the best fishermen in Farmington, Connecticut.
Wilford also had a secret island in the middle of his fishing stream. When his father didn’t need help at the flour mill or the saw mill, Wilford went to his island to think.
He wondered about God and religion and what Heavenly Father wanted him to do.
Years later, when Wilford Woodruff heard the missionaries explain that prophets and apostles were again on the earth, he was filled with joy. Wilford joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Soon after, the Prophet Joseph Smith called him to be an Apostle and to serve a mission to England with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
In England, Elder Woodruff learned that a large group of people called the United Brethren had gathered to worship and to ask God for more knowledge of truth.
Elder Woodruff: John, this is inspired! The Lord sent me to Hereford to teach these people.
Elder Woodruff’s success with the United Brethren was even more astounding than his boyhood success with fishing. In two days he baptized six hundred people!
Constable: I have been ordered to arrest you, Elder Woodruff, for preaching to the people.
Elder Woodruff: But I have a license to preach the gospel, sir. If you will sit in this chair until the meeting is over, we will talk about this misunderstanding and get it settled.
By the end of the meeting, there was nothing left to settle.
Constable: I, too, wish to be baptized, Elder Woodruff.
Four ministers: So do we.
Elder Woodruff returned home and crossed the plains with Brigham Young, often providing food for the travelers with the new fishing rod he had brought from England.
And even when he was the prophet, President Wilford Woodruff could sometimes be found in a boat, happily fishing.
If you’d like to learn more about President Woodruff, do the “President Wilford Woodruff Crossword” on page 41.