Fishing and Life’s Lesson

by Dan Simmons

The end of summer is a time for reflection, and fishing, so it seems appropriate to reflect on the true purpose and meaning of our angling pursuits.
It’s certainly not about catching and eating fish, as it may have been in the earlier times of our forefathers. Today it’s much less expensive to obtain the “daily catch” from the supermarket or restaurant, rather than spend $100s of dollars per pound on our annual fishing trips.

Rather fishing is a way of looking at the world, a way of purposeful travel and a way of identifying with something larger than our daily surroundings and activities.

My good friend Chris Meakings is an avid fly fisherman and owns a great restaurant, Chris’s Under the Bridge Restaurant, on the banks of the famous Thompson River, known for its salmon and steelhead fishing, in Ashcroft, British Columbia. He orders fresh salmon and trout daily for his guests, but on his days off you’ll find him at one of the area’s many lakes, streams or rivers.

One of his favorite small lakes is just a short distance from town and on a recent trip he launched his float tube and felt the cool stream water on his waders. As his feet sunk into the soft bottom he pushed himself off and drifted for a bit, enjoying the view of the surrounding hills with the scent of pine and spruce filling the air.

He then tied a dark “Under the Bridge Special” fly nymph with a number-14 medium shanked hook on his three pound tippet.

As he cast to one of his favorite spots, a large rainbow trout broke water and took it before it had a chance to sink, as if it were a dry fly, and headed for the opposite end of the lake before Chris had a chance to recover.

Perhaps because he was in a hurry to get the line wet, or just by fluke, his line broke leaving about seven feet of monofilament and his strike indicator still attached to the fish. He followed the fish several times around the lake and for several hours, while he continued to fish and had success with virtually every fly he used. Eventually coming close to the floating strike indicator, he was able to grab the line and bring the fish in, a nice five-pounder. It was a good day and his persistence was rewarded with several nice fish that were extremely cooperative on that particular day.

However, it’s not always that productive. On some days the fish just don’t seem to cooperate and one must try one fly pattern after another before finding the right combination of color, texture and size. Patience and perseverance we picked up along the way.

Life’s “fishing lesson” from Chris’s experience: the world is sometimes good to us and the going is smooth, but other times things aren’t working. As with fishing, when what you are doing isn’t working, try something different. But, keep fishing and trying until you find the right formula for the situation.
Another motivation to fish is to travel and visit interesting people and places while identifying projects to which one could be of assistance to individuals encountered along the way. I refer to this as purposeful travel. Some volunteer through social organizations or church groups, while others use art, music or academic study to create interactions. All are windows to the world and help answer the question of why we fish.
Then again, perhaps it’s just because it’s fun or competitive and we get an adrenalin rush each time we hear the line screaming from the reel or feel the bend in the rod.

If you like to fish, travel, and make new friends try fishing as a method of doing this and having fun along the way.

Fishing is more than a metaphor for life – it is life

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Here is one of Chris’s favorite trout recipes and also one of his favorite flies. Use this to catch your rainbow trout and the recipe to prepare it for your friends.

  • 12 to 14 medium shanked hook.
  • Ostrich hurl tied forward and brought back – head to tail.
  • Wrapped with black larva lace.
  • Two rainbow trout fillets

The “Under the Bridge Special.”


  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp horseradish


  • Mix maple syrup and soy sauce together, set aside 6 oz for basting
  • place rainbow trout in bowl and cover with marinade; let stand 20 to 25 minutes
  • preheat barbeque to 400 degrees
  • mix together reserved liquid and horseradish in a small pan, place on barbeque and cook until it thickens stirring frequently
  • place rainbow trout on the barbeque (skin side down) and cook each side for 3-4 minutes, brushing with sauce frequently.

“Fishing and Life’s Lesson” first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Pahrump Valley Times