The north Island of New Zealand is as green and lush as any place on the Planet. It is considered semi tropical, with temperate weather, not getting too hot in summer or, too cold during the winter months. The only real constant with the weather in the New Zealand, is the consistency of rain that seems to deluge year round. This is true of the entire country; in the North Island the weather is quite a bit warmer than the southern part of the South Island. On the west coast of the South Island, it rains nearly everyday. Most days it is just a mist, other days the sky cries huge crocodile tear sized raindrops. It is one of the wettest places on the planet, when one thinks of New Zealand; the color green comes straight to thought.
Billy was driving on a highway in a North East direction from the huge Lake Taupo. He had been driving for nearly an hour, but had not yet seen the great Rangitikei River that was discussed at length in the book Billy had purchased in Auckland. Then, the road came to an extremely long and steep decline, and Billy could just get a glimpse of the famous river. It was a raging torrent, white water breaking over the tops of boulders the size of Volkswagens. The great river was in flood stage, Benders heart sank, knowing that fishing here would be impossible. At the bottom of the hill, there was an enormous span bridge that crossed the river, and on the right side was a small store with two 14 ft. rubber rafts and a sign that read “Fishing Guide and Float Trips”. Bender pulled into the small grey wooden building to inquire about the possibilities of fishing some where close. It had rained earlier, the air was thick with moisture, the ground still saturated, and the late morning sun was warming the earth and creating a penetrating humidity. Before Bender could enter the shop, out came a bearded man wearing a baseball cap and shorts who was in his early thirties. “Hi, my name is Tom, how can I help you?” Bender smiled and said, ‘ you must be the famous American fishing guide who hails from Wyoming”. Tom adjusted his cap and said, “Well, I’m not too sure about the famous part, but I do come from Jackson Hole”. Bender and Tom got through the introductions, when Tom asked, “How many flies, dry flies to be exact did you bring down with you?” Bender replied, “I don’t know, I usually have a couple thousand with me, maybe more”. Toms face lit up, and with a Cheshire cats grin asked, “Do you want to make a deal?” Tom went on, “if you give me say 300 dry flies of my choice, I'll take you to one of the top trout streams in the entire country, and you can camp there, and I’ll pick you up after three days”. Bender said, “Great, I came to fish, that works perfect for me, lets do it”. Tom needed Parachute style Mayflies,” Adams is a color combination that is neutral enough to work for most imitations of the mayflies that Tom was interested in matching.
In less than thirty minutes Bender was packing the back of Toms small yellow “mini”, a car one size larger than a child’s plastic toy in which it moves by a youngsters constant pedaling. Tom explained that the road was so narrow, that no other car would make it the final destination. The two spent the next 3 hours driving along, and, at times up and over rail road tracts. The only other way to reach the upper tributary of “ Happy Creek”, was by helicopter, and the cost were prohibitive, Tom needed dry flies, and he was willing to drive all day to obtain them.
After the long, bumpy, and at times treacherous journey concluded, Tom and Billy stopped and glared speechless at the boulder latten creek. Tom said “, this will blow your mind, at least it blows mine, I think your in for a real treat”. Billy and Tom stood and looked into the freestone creek that was 3 feet at the deepest, very crossable, and, at its widest point maybe 50 ft., an easy cast. The water was extremely clear, with “chair” sized boulders intermixed every ten feet apart. Classic freestone water, with some of the boulders “Lazy-boy sized” and other more comparable with footstools. The bank was grass, the creek cut through a small canyon a mile above , but, where Tom and Billy where gazing into the water , the creek cut through a large open meadow that was lined with willows that was the only tree around. It was a caster friendly creek, wade able, with little to catch the back cast. Tom said, “Let me point out where these trout hold, you can see them in front of and behind the boulders”. With his hands blocking the sun from the sides of his polarized sunglasses, Tom exclaimed, “there is a four pounder holding just in front of that boulder, Brown trout, and another larger fish just across from us near the bank, maybe six pounds, and there is another, nice rainbow just here ten feet away, it might go five or six pounds, you can put your tent right here, there are at least 8-9 nice fish in this first pool!”
Bender started erecting the tent while Tom cast a small grass hopper over the large brown trout near the bank. Billy heard , “ Damn, missed him, maybe I should leave these for you, there is only one trout I’d like to try for before I start my drive back, that is if you don’t mind “, asked Tom. “ Hey, no problem, fish all you want, I cannot thank you enough for taking me up here” Bender exclaimed.
Tom and Billy walked up stream along the creek with Tom pointing out fish and good water to look for them rising once the sun was lower, until they came to the beginning of the canyon water. Here Tom asked Billy for his help; to watch the reaction of this trout when it takes the nymph, Tom explained that from his position above the trout, all he could see was the oily surface of the water. He went on to say that indicators spook the trout, he has spooked the trout many times trying very small indicators. The only time Tom hooked the monster, was with a very long, fine tippet, with his partner watching and telling him when to strike. The reason that Tom was fishing above the fish was due to the pool flowed into the bank, with trees all around in the way of the back cast, the only way to approach the fish was from up stream.
Tom and Billy both got into position, Billy hidden behind a bush just behind the pool, and Tom 25-30 feet above the pool. Tom asked Billy, ‘can you see the trout yet?” Billy asked, does he lie near the log at the bottom of the pool? Tom laughed, adjusted his hat, touched his light brown colored beard and replied, “No, that log, is the fish!” Billy had never in all his years of Fly fishing, seen a trout that size, it was well over 15 lbs. It was a male brown trout, that had a kype like a spawning salmon. It moved ever so gently in a back and forth movement that without training would be very difficult to detect that it was in fact a trout.
Billy told Tom to try and cast the heavily weighted pheasant tail nymph to the head of the pool and feed line, allowing the nymph to slowly drift past the goliath as naturally as possible. The clarity of the water was impressive, “Gin Clear” is the term used by the Kiwis, and it is very descriptive. Tom made his first cast, and it looked perfect, but the currents pulled the nymph away from the path of the large brown. Billy yelled to Tom to cast further down stream, and he did, this time the nymph landed more into the pool and here the currents were softer. Billy could see the reaction of the trout as the imposter was floating towards him, the giant slowly moved up stream to intercept the drifting imitation, opening its mouth, and as it did the nymph started to float directly into the zone. Billy told Tom to get ready; it was floating perfect, right on target. The fly entered the mouth of the “Log”, but the trout did not shut its mouth, something happened, perhaps just at the moment the trout may have felt the tippet, hard to say, but the weary brown trout , just disappeared, gone , hidden away. Billy explained to Tom what transpired, Tom laughed, and said, “Well that’s not the first time that has happened, and I’m sure that will not be the last time”.
The two shook hands back at the camp , and Tom told Billy he would be there to retrieve him in three days, unless something catastrophic happens, but , he would let people know that Billy was here camping, and if anything happened, to pick him up. Tom turned to Billy and said “enjoy, your in paradise, and see if you can get a fly into that ‘log”; I’ll see you in three days”. As the“mini” faded out of sight, Billy could hear only the sounds of the song birds, and the constant rush of the creek, Bender, was in fact in Paradise.