The Fish and the Fly

Be careful little fish! Artwork by Robert Hines, modified.

Bright and colorful it may be,
Dancing on the surface for all to see.
It has body, it has wings–
“Come, eat me” it tauntingly sings.

But wait! Look closely at this easy meal;
And you’ll see a line and a hook of steel.
Thus in life, as in the babbling stream,
Things are not always as they seem.

So beware little fish, the artificial flies
Cast by the Devil, the Father of Lies.
They bring only sorrow and eternal regret…
Never forget, never forget.

Bob Trivett.  That was his name.  He was my eleven-year-old scout leader.  He was a home builder as I recall; and when I knew him, he and his wife were in their 60’s, had a Lassie dog, and would serve us popcorn and orange juice after our weekly scout activities.  And we had some good ones.  We did camping, fire building, tin foil dinners, tower building, and a host of others.  And fishing.  In fact, he is the one that took me fishing for the first time.  Up to this point the only interaction with live fish I had had was one time going to a fish farm, but I don’t call that fishing.  Those farmed fish nearly jump into your hands the moment you even think about putting a line in the water!

No, this was going to be real fishing.  We packed sack dinners and went up Payson Canyon.  There, in the cool evening air, he taught us about handling a pole, tying hooks, and fishing techniques.  We found a good spot on a stream and put in our lines.  And guess what, I caught one!  A little rainbow trout.  I took it home, dad helped me clean it, and mom helped me cook it.  It is one of my fond childhood memories.

It didn’t work out so well for the fish, though.  There he was, innocently hanging out in a pleasant stream waiting for dinner to come passing by.  Then he sees some grub and next thing he knows. . . .  Even the “lucky” fish that experience catch and release still have a wound to show for their mistake.  That is because the whole principle of fishing relies on the art of deception—masking a fatal metal hook as something the fish think they want.

I jotted this poem down after reading parts of the talk, “O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One” by Elder M. Russell Ballard where he compares fishing to what the Devil does.  He says, “The use of artificial lures to fool and catch a fish is an example of the way Lucifer often tempts, deceives, and tries to ensnare us.  Like the fly fisherman who knows that trout are driven by hunger, Lucifer knows our “hunger,” or weaknesses, and tempts us with counterfeit lures which, if taken, can cause us to be yanked from the stream of life into his unmerciful influence. . . .  May we all be aware of the artificial flies being presented to us by the counterfeit fisher of men, Lucifer.  May we have the wisdom and spiritual insight to discern and refuse his many dangerous offerings” (Ensign Nov 2010).

I am thankful for Bob Trivett.  I am thankful he took me fishing.  I am more thankful that he was quietly teaching me about avoiding the artificial flies of life by his example.  And I am thankful for Christ— that He still rescues me every time I get caught.

Written: October 2014

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