The Five Seasons of May

The Five Seasons of May

  • By: Geoff Moore
  • Photography by: Geoff Moore
Canada Bear

Refreshed after a long, ice-covered rest, British Columbia’s interior lakes wake as the light shifts from a cold blue of winter to warmer spring hues. Improving weather trends are fairly consistent, but it’s possible to experience a sampling of four seasons in a single day. If you are a fisherman and a hockey fan, it’s even possible to experience five seasons in a day, those being spring, summer, fall, winter, and the NHL playoffs. The downside of the fifth season is you may lose focus on priorities. For example, a night of hockey and merriment could result in a poorly executed angling plan, especially if you’re scheduled to be on the water a few hours after your celebration ends. We all know that a lack of clarity leads to precarious situations, and that’s exactly what happened to me.

My favorite team won in overtime and a few hours later I was kicking my partially deflated pontoon boat onto a lake with waaay too much gear, including enough camera bodies and lenses to sink that sickly craft. Yes, I own a pump and could have used it, but my dad’s voice was in the back of my big and still fuzzy head: “It gets late early out there.” And I was certainly late.

Picture, if you will, a partially brain-dead fisherman with gadgets galore dangling off of him, head down, watercraft losing air, trying to get one of two sinking lines unstuck from the bottom. Picture that angler being oblivious to a squall line that had formed until it was pounding him into submission. Believe me, I got it all—freezing rain, wind, hail, even a horizontal snow line. I yelled into the storm like Captain Dan on Gump’s shrimp boat. The only reason I didn’t lose most of my gear was because I had clip-on tethers.

My heart (and head) was pounding as I untangled fly lines from flippers and semi-lowered anchor ropes. I was trying to retrieve a net and one oar when I glanced up and realized that the squall was pushing me quickly to shore and that I was spinning right into the territory of a large and upset bear. He was guarding his turf, snapping jaws, popping teeth, woofing and groaning. That’s when I realized that the bear spray was back at the truck. One line wound around my legs and fins, the other noosed around my neck, I was not mounting a speedy retreat. So I did what I could—I surrendered and started photographing. We spent a half hour in proximity, my shutter snapping, the bear huffing and puffing, occasionally sitting down for a spell, still watching my every move, until I could shake free of those fly lines and paddle away.

This spring, as the ice melts by day and I cheer my team at night, I’ll take time to pump up my boat even when I’m late. I won’t take as much gear as last year, I’ll rarely fish two lines, and if I do I’ll use a line skirt to tame those coils. I’ll check the weather before I head out and I’ll pack the bear spray. And I’ll think about a motto I developed that day with the bear—we never stop learning as long as we are willing to laugh at ourselves. I laugh a lot.

Geoff Moore handles media relations for British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (www.landwithoutlimits.com), when he’s not cheering for the Canucks, sampling single malt, or casting flies for oversized trout.