It was an interesting “hatch” that evening, mainly caddis flies; the predominant size was a # 12 Tan Caddis. Some of the trout were feeding on the surface, but, it was extremely windy. Billy mainly tried for this large brown trout who was feeding near the bank on the other side of the creek; the trout was feeding when ever one of the large caddis flies floated over head. The wind made the cast quite tricky, for gust blew upward to 30- 40 mph, at times blowing sheets of water down stream covering boulders in their entirety. Bender knew he would be doing almost nothing but fishing for the next two days, and decided to quit early, cook something for dinner, drink some fine New Zealand beer, then, sit by a warm fire and stare into a Southern Hemispheric starry night.
As Billy sat near the glowing fire and finished the last little bit of the warm minestrone soup, he noticed that the wind had subsided. Bender could hear an almost feeding frenzy taking place out on the creek, especially down stream where the river curved at a bend forming a long, deep pool. Here Bender could not see, but rather could hear the trout, slashing, gulping and thrashing the surface of the elongated pool. Billy also noticed that with the wind down, the hatch of caddis flies had intensified to the point that Billy was being continuously hit by the large moth like insects, the air was alive with “bats,” feeding above the creek, and trout feeding on the surface, it was a feeding orgy, with the large caddis being what was on the menu. It was pitch black, the only illumination was from the stars above, Billy sat on the bank of the creek, and listened to the carnage, and he pulled out the small pipe and inhaled more of the sweet Rangitikei red bud. It was warm that evening, so Bender decided to just grab his rod, skip the waders and boots, and cast an over sized caddis into the boiling water with only his shorts, and vest. The mud felt great between Benders toes as he waded into the shallows preparing for his first cast. He had tied on a very large # 6 dark brown caddis, the fly landed just off the tall bank on the other side, where Billy had heard disturbance’s that indicated large fish. As the #6 caddis started to drag from the tightening of the line, Billy then felt a strong tug coming from across the creek. It was powerful fish, moving up and down the pool and tearing line along with each run. Earlier that day, Bender had landed fish upward to six pounds, but, this beast felt at least twice as heavy. Bender was thinking how he could photograph the trophy without injuring the beauty. He had the camera in his vest pocket, it had a flash, and maybe it would turn out. The plan would be to drag the beast onto the wet grass, here it would be safe, take a quick photo, and release the beast. As Bender was bringing the fish toward shore, he could see the outline of the beauty in the dark water. It was longer than anything Bender had landed prior, it was enormous, Billy’s heart began to race, and it was a fish of a life time.
Then, the light from the rising moon lit up the area similar to a small spot light. Bender looked at the fish closer, it seemed thinner than it had appeared in the dark water. It was an Eel, nearly 5 ft. long, black on its back with a light colored belly. Bender tried to break the line with his hand, but nothing doing, the huge black serpent like beast was slashing wildly in the wet grass. Bender wanted nothing more than to dislodge the beast from his line, but, knew that this snake like fish had huge teeth and could inflict a nasty bite, Bender was miles from anybody, and he knew to be careful. With bare feet, holding the line taunt with the over sized caddis stuck in the corner of the beast mouth; Bender stepped on its head and gave the line a quick, hard pull. The line snapped Billy fell backward into the muddy wet grass; just two feet away the 3ft long eel slashed wildly, and wiggled its way back into the creek. Bender, wet, from chest down ward, with mud dripping down his bare legs, stood and watch his prey swim back to safety.
Bender made his way back to the camp and re-kindled the fire, opened a DB Brown, dried himself off and then laughed. What a day of mixed emotions thought Billy, but, what a day, what a day indeed.