Sunday April 21st, 2024 11:20AM

Fishing the Kinneret

As I write this blog it is one week until Christmas.  Our tree is up, the outdoor lights are lit and I’ve spent the last two hours wrapping gifts.

As a Christian my thoughts this time of year turn to the arrival of the Messiah and what He must have been like as a guy.

One thing I know is that He did seem to enjoy the company of fishermen – four of His closest followers: Peter, Andrew, James and John - did it for a living. 

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, about 18-miles from the Sea of Galilee and spent a large part of His ministry walking around (and upon!) the massive freshwater lake…as it is more aptly described.

And when He called His disciples He said to them: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

I think Jesus knows fishermen very well.

Then, as my mind so often does, my thoughts began to wander, and I couldn’t help but imagine what it was like to fish where Jesus lived. 

“Fishing the Sea of Galilee” was quickly typed into my Google search bar and, boy, did I learn a lot. 

The Sea of Galilee today is known as Kinneret…not Lake Kinneret, not the Sea of Kinneret, but simply Kinneret.

It has 41,018-acres of surface water; Lake Lanier has 37,069-acres; not too different in size when you think about it. 

The biggest difference in how those acres are distributed is that the silhouette or outline of Kinneret is egg-shaped; Lanier has the profile of a gnarly-old tree branch.  Hence Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee, once again) has only 34-miles of shoreline whereas Lanier has 692-miles.

Another similarity between Kinneret and Lanier is that the deepest spot in Kinneret is 155’ deep; Lake Lanier (due to fifty years of siltation) has a maximum depth of 160’. 

Here is one noticeable difference between the lakes:  Lanier’s elevation when full is 1071-feet above mean sea level; Kinneret is 696-feet BELOW sea level.  That’s correct; Kinneret is the lowest freshwater lake in the world.

So what can you catch in that big Israeli lake?

Google again to the rescue: there are 18 species of indigenous fish in the Sea of Galilee, none of them of the micropterus (bass) genus.  So keep your finesse worms at home.

People who maintain a kosher diet enjoy three of the fish species:

  • Musht: this group includes the popular Tilapia Galilea, commonly called Saint Peter’s fish.

  • Biny (Barbels): this group consists of three species of the Carp family. The two most common species are the Barbus longiceps and the Barbus Canis; both are used by Jews for Sabbath meals and feasts.

  • Kinneret Sardine.:at the height of the fishing season millions of sardines are caught every night. In New Testament times these fish were preserved by pickling. Magdala was known as the center of this industry.

Another common fish eaten by area residents, but not allowed under strict kosher dietary law because it does not have scales, is catfish.

One final item before I let you go: in 2010 all fishing was banned for two year on Kinneret because of depleted resources.  Once that ban was completed a new “No Fishing” season was instituted and fishing is prohibited during the spawning season: from mid-April through early August (Hebrew calendar).

Merry Christmas, good fishing and Shalom

שלום

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