The most amazing bait I've ever used is a granola bar with a "Jesus loves me" sticker. At this time we've cast more than 54,000 in an attempt to win the lost to Christ. As a boat captain, now retired, I know the importance of going fishing with "good bait.”

As a child I watched my dad and his crew get into the water at Destin's first bridge with "stinging nettles" in the water making it a painful experience as they put a "wing" of their seine around a school of cigar minnows. Why were they braving the pain and difficulty of seining at this particular time of year? So they could go out and catch red snapper and grouper, of course. Earlier in the year they had some salted skipjack to use, but once it was gone they were in great need and the Lord provided for them.

Most folks haven't a clue as to how difficult it was in Destin 75 years ago for they weren't here. Without any bait there wasn't going to be any catching of fish for them. I learned well from my dad and his crew.

This is my sixth year of fishing for Jesus on the streets with my signs and in the big box stores. If I see folks walking their dog, I try for them too as I drive along. I always want folks to read the sticker on my "bait," — "Jesus loves me." Yes he does, and the results speak for themselves. I meet folks all the time who say "you gave me a bar before" with a great smile. Somehow the Holy Spirit touched them with his gift.

For sure, I've only "fed folks" a granola bar, but that's OK. Jesus talked about casting seed on the ground and only some fell on "good ground.” When I go out to win someone to him, I always pray and if going to the street with my signs I ask for permission for at 80 "plus" I don't need to be out with the cars flashing by like jets if he's not going with me.

I wish folks could be with me when I cast baits for him. When folks are asked to read the sticker many seem to glow when they say Jesus loves me. I say yes he does. Then some will tell me, "He loves you too.” I laugh and say, you know I think I’ve figured that out.

How I wish I could love him better for he hung on the cross for six horrible hours paying for my multitude of sins. He forgave me on May 23, 1971, in the greatest event in my long life and not a tear was left within me as the Holy Spirit washed me clean inside.

Today I'm buying more bait, but thank God it's not in the sea nettle infested water at the Destin bridge.

Capt. Ben Marler is a longtime Destin resident and author of “Old Destin Through the Eyes of a Child” and other books that are available at the Destin History & Fishing Museum. He can be reached at or on his Facebook page.