Fishing with Don Meissner

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in Fly Fishing

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

This site has given me a fantastic opportunity to share a lifetime of fishing experiences. I have always felt that fishing has empowered me with something much more grandiose than I have the ability to express. It has given me an existence so rich in incalculable rewards that I am usually reduced to a state of utter humility when attempting to describe my feelings.

To make this even more difficult, a few days ago I was blessed with the gift of spending Fathers Day with my 85 year old dad. Somewhere around half a century ago, he first sat beside me on the dock at my grandparents’ cottage, patiently helping me as we watched a small red bobber dimple the surface below. He opened the gateway to the most magnificent world a five year old boy could behold. I still can feel the shiver of pleasure ripple though me as a five inch bluegill challenged me to what was to become a never ending tug - of - war.

A few years later, my Dad and I embarked upon a schedule that would stay with us until I left home for college. Each weekend we would disappear into some distant stream or lake in search of new fishing adventures. The fish were usually small, but the time spent was always wonderful. There wasn’t a trout stream in our state that we didn’t explore, and Monday through Friday became unbearably difficult to endure. As was the tradition in those days, we kept everything we caught, partly to substantiate our stories to my incredibly understanding mother, but also to provide food for the family. I must have consumed thousands of pan-fried trout by the time I left home.

Although I have enjoyed countless experiences in over twenty years of filming “Streamside”, none of them can replace the special times that I shared growing up with my Dad. He always seemed to be a little better than me at everything we did. His fly casting was more graceful, he could tie the most beautiful replicas of our favorite flies, he could bring a gun up faster and shoot straighter than any one I had ever seen…..And I could go on and on. But that was always ok, because I never imagined that I needed to be as good as he was. He was my Dad, and he was a great example to emulate.

So many years have passed since then, and in their passing, my Dad has grown old. He can still see a trout rise around the next bend, his aim is still true, but most of his time is now spent in reminiscing. This year, however, we promised each other that on Fathers Day, we would return to that world that had shaped my childhood and that had bonded us forever. It is so appropriate that now I had the chance to reverse the rolls. It was my turn to take him fishing. Dad wanted to use his trusty old Johnson pushbutton outfit that had spent decades in storage. He was equipped only with a can of worms, a package of snelled hooks and a strangely familiar red bobber.

We found ourselves on a flat section of bank where Dad’s folding chair could be easily set up. As I squatted beside him, each of us lost in our own memories, we again became the man and boy sharing a timeless moment that had forever guided us through the uncharted waters of life. It mattered not that the only fish we caught was a six inch rock bass. We were once again where we needed to be.

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