Nets Full of Fish

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“Nets Full of Fish,” Friend, Feb. 2006, 18–21

Nets Full of Fish

(Based on a story from the author’s family history)

That which thou hast prayed to me … I have heard (2 Kgs. 19:20).

Eleven-year-old Ted was excited. Today he and Benjamin, his 14-year-old brother, were going to take their dad’s fishing boat out on the ocean all by themselves.

Father worked as a fisherman, catching cod, haddock, halibut, and Dover sole. Every morning he took the family’s small wooden boat and rowed into the ocean near their home on the coast of England. When he returned, Mother would take the fish to Chester Market and sell them.

But today was different. Ted’s parents needed to take the family’s horse and wagon into town to get supplies, and Ted had volunteered to do the fishing while their parents were gone.

“Remember, stay close to the shore,” Mother said as Ted and Benjamin began to row the little boat out into the ocean. “Always stay close enough that you can see our house. We should be home about the same time you get finished.”

“And be careful with the nets,” Father added. “Don’t lose them.”

Ted knew how important the nets were. Without the nets, his family wouldn’t be able to catch any fish. And then they wouldn’t have any money to buy food and clothes. All the money the family had came from selling the fresh fish in the market.

After Benjamin rowed the boat a little way from the shore, Ted helped his brother put glass floats on the nets and throw them overboard. After waiting for a while, Ted and Benjamin used all their strength to pull the nets back into the boat. They removed the fish one by one until finally they had gathered and stacked all the cod, halibut, and other fish.

“Could you start pulling up the anchor rope?” Benjamin asked Ted. “Then we’ll go back to shore.”

Ted pulled up on the rope until he could see the anchor in the water below him. As he lifted the heavy anchor, his wet hands slipped. The anchor skidded off the side of the boat and back into the water, dragging all three tangled nets overboard. The weight of the anchor overcame the floats, and the nets began to sink.

Ted stuck out his hand to grab the nets, but Benjamin pushed his hand away. “Don’t! You’ll be pulled overboard by the weight of the anchor!”

Ted watched the three nets and the anchor disappear beneath the dark ocean water. There was nothing he could do to stop them.

When the anchor reached the end of the rope, Ted and Benjamin began pulling the rope back into the boat. But when the anchor finally came back to the surface, the nets were gone.

“Maybe they floated up somewhere else,” Benjamin said hopefully. But Ted couldn’t see the nets anywhere. He said a silent prayer that Heavenly Father would help them find the nets.

They rowed around looking. But no matter how far they rowed, they couldn’t find the nets. After a little while they saw their parents waiting for them on the shore. Ted knew Mother and Father would be worried because they had been out with the boat longer than usual.

When they got to shore, Ted saw the worried look on Mother’s face and began to cry.

“What’s wrong?” Mother asked.

“We lost all the nets,” Benjamin said. His voice was quiet. He told his parents what had happened.

While Benjamin and Ted loaded the fish onto a cart for Mother to take to market, Dad took the boat out to look for the nets. But a storm was coming and the sky was turning black. As the ocean became choppy, Father returned. He had not been able to find the nets.

That night Ted heard Mother and Father talking.

“We don’t have enough money to buy even one new net,” Mother said.

During family prayer, Father prayed for a special blessing: “Please help us find our lost nets.”

The next morning the whole family searched along the beach.

Then when the tide went out, Ted and Benjamin went with Father in the rowboat. They spent the whole morning looking for the nets, but they didn’t find anything. Ted could tell that Father was starting to lose hope.

Just then, Ted thought he saw something glimmering in the water near the horizon. It could be another spot of sea foam or floating seaweed.

Or it might be the nets.

“Let’s row over there,” Ted said, pointing to the glimmer. “It looks like there is something floating.”

“I see something too,” Benjamin said.

As the boat got closer, Ted saw green seaweed leaves. His heart sank. But then, mixed in with the shiny leaves, he saw a glass float.

“It’s one of the floats!” he cried out. “I think the nets are there too!”

As Father pulled the boat alongside the float, Benjamin and Ted pulled the heavy, wet nets into the boat. All three nets were there. And they were full of cod, haddock, halibut, and Dover sole!

They had so many fish that some were spilling over the sides and back into the ocean. There was not enough room for all the fish.

“If we hurry, we can still get these fish to Chester Market,” Father said. But before they rowed the boat to shore, they stopped to say a prayer. They thanked Heavenly Father for helping them find all three of the nets and enough fish to fill the boat.

[Family Prayer]

Elder John H. Groberg

“There is real power in family prayer.”
Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, “The Power of Family Prayer,” Ensign, May 1982, 51.

Illustrated by Brad Teare