Our Man In Canada
February 22nd, 1999

Making memories and friendships
the seasons they go round and round."

By Clive Schaupmeyer

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar...
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.
From "The Circle Game" by Joni Mitchell ©1966

It's Valentine's Day and the Canada geese will start returning any day now.

The return of geese each spring marks the beginning of another year. Yes, I've already had my 1999 fly-fishing opener on the Crowsnest River, but the geese herald the true beginning of yet another season. For 30 years I've watched Canada geese return to southern Alberta, and leave again in the autumn, as they pass through the cycles of their lives. . . their own Circle Game.

Lot's has happened to me in these 30 years that I have watched the geese come and go. Most of it's pretty damn fine, and I have many great memories of the seasons as they've gone round and round for me.

As I get older, the passing days, months and years are more important because, with each passing moment, fewer and fewer of them remain. Sure there's the saying, "The time spent fishing is not deducted from a person's life on earth." But the reality is that time is passing and the seasons come and go. But the passing of time is not an unhappy phenomenon. On the contrary, the passing of time lets us accumulate memories and develop strong bonds with fishing partners.

As I see it there are at least four reasons to fish: the anticipation, the actual experience, the memories, and the friendships we develop as the seasons come and go. If it were not for the memories of our experiences and the bonds we develop, why would we fish?


Our fly-fishing lives can be enhanced by fishing with anglers who are both younger and older than ourselves. It works for me. I am 51 years old. In recent years I have fished with young folk and marvel at their enthusiasm. I am happy for the decades of fly-fishing they have ahead of them. My senior fishing partner for the past few years has been John Tunstall. He's nearly 20 years my senior and has taught me a lot about life. But most importantly John and I have had great times together.

We've caught our share of hard fighting, beautiful trout in some of Alberta's Blue Ribbon rivers and streams. But we've also sat on banks above streams and drank coffee, ate sandwiches and laughed while fish rose below us. Knowing that if they quit before we got there they'd likely be there tomorrow. And we've drank bad coffee and great home-made soup while hunkered around chrome and Formica tables in roadside cafes full of ranchers–our waders dripping on worn linoleum floors. Memories.

John is the most unselfish person I have ever known. I hope some of it has rubbed off on me and perhaps I can pass on some of his unfailing generosity to younger folks. Following is an excerpt from a story I originally wrote many years ago that tells of his nature. John and I had been scouting a new stretch of a unfished, remote section of river and we were certain we were about to hit it big.

     . . . I looked back over my left shoulder and saw the smallest of rises. Had I looked a second later it would have been gone. This was not one of those "car-hood- sized" rises we've all read about that ripple on the surface for seconds. These were the smallest rings. . .
 "Hey, John, there's a rise near the bank, upstream. I think it's just a small fish. It may not have been a fish at all. The rings were awfully small." The fish rose again, and again.
 "You give him a try, I've got a hopper on, and he's taking something smaller. Midges or blue-wing olives or something in the film," I said.
 John must consider it his obligation to let me have first crack at a fish or run.
 "No. No. You're closer than me, and I haven't got a fly tied on," he replied, even though he was only four feet farther instream, and as it turned out I had to tie another fly on anyway. . .
 After two casts it was clear this fish was not eating hoppers today—at least not mine. . .
 John insisted that I continue to try for this trout. What could I say? So I tied on a small Antron Adams. . . The first cast with the new fly and 'plip.' Just a sip, and the fly was gone. I'll spare you all of the line-to-the-backing details, but the female rainbow measured an honest 22 inches and would have weighed well over 3 pounds. I should have talked to John about being so obliging.

The days with John are among my many favorite fishing memories–as important as fishing with our two boys when they were growing up. John and I have had the very best times together and neither of us would have missed our trips for the world.

As your seasons go round and round, expand the magnitude of your experiences and memories by fishing with fly anglers both younger and older. You will be rewarded as I have been.

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through.
And the seasons go round and round. . .
Thanks to Joni Mitchell for the words in her song, The Circle Game. ~ Clive Schaupmeyer

Closing thought: To make a man happy for an hour, get him drunk; kill a pig and feed him, and he will be content for a day; marry him to bring him pleasure for a few days; but, for a lifetime of happiness, teach him to fish. Old Chinese saying.

Our Man In Canada Archives

Bio on Our Man In Canada

Clive Schaupmeyer is an outdoor writer and photographer. He is the author of The Essential Guide to Fly-Fishing, a 288-page book for novice and intermediate fly anglers. His photo of a boy fishing was judged the best outdoor picture of 1996 published by a member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada. He fly-fishes for trout in Alberta's foothill and mountain streams and for pike near his home in Brooks, Alberta. For information on where to find, or how to get a copy of Clive's book, Click here!

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