Billy waded out of the mouth of the Waitahanui following the last of the hard core fishermen. The frenzy had concluded, the Moon was waxing, supplying just enough light to return back to the car without the need for a flashlight. The sound of toads belching their” ribits, ribits” was near deafening, along with the occasional screeching of Herons calling their mates from nearby Beech trees high above. It was a spectacular evening, despite being “skunked”; the lack of fish did nothing to diminish the extraordinary mindset that overcame Bender. As Billy sat in the Ford Taurus wagon, he saw the shadows of last remaining anglers being illuminated by flashes of headlights from passing cars, and thought tomorrow he would fish moving water, perhaps a small river or creek.
Bender was hungry for the feel of the line to tighten, that split second when one realizes “fish on”. It is for many, why they fish, that split second where all the fly tying, traveling, preparation, and dreaming comes to one focal point. It is at that point is where one needs to have complete concentration; it is the point where either most fish are hooked properly, or lost. It is in just seconds that one will make decisions that will determine success or failure. One needs to be able to react to the fish’s behavior, and, not one fish acts the same. For each fish is an individual, reacting to being hooked differently. If Fly Fishing was easy, it would not be interesting.
Tonight, Bender was in need of nourishment and drink, he remembered seeing a roadside pub close by that featured “Lions Beer”. Each pub was sponsored by a particular beer company, and in front of this dark stained wooden building was a large blue sign with white lettering and the ever present Lion Logo depicting the big cat rearing up from a side profile in a rich golden color. Bender began to salivate, remembering the smooth, rich, full, amber colored liquid, sweet nectar, with just a hint of a Hop after taste.” What da ya have?” barked the bar keep, Bender replied ,” a pint of the double brown ,thanks“, Billy sat at the light colored wooded bar that was shaped in a narrow rectangle, the floor was a matching color, but there was a strong contrast with the very dark brown walls , and white ceiling. Again Billy noticed that the entire building was constructed from a local hardwoods that seemed to be the choice of building material throughout the country. It was a typical country pub; there were two large stone fireplaces in the middle of the room, set on both walls directly across from each other. Seeing that it was the beginning of summer, there was only one fire burning. Billy sat on this side of the bar to warm up some, after wading for hours in the frigid Lake.
Around the bar were a handful of locals, all slouched over wearing dark colored hats of different styles and shapes, with large glasses of the Lions brew that also came in different shades. From the end of the rectangle, came a crusty voice asking Billy if he was a Yank, “I am, yes, doing a bit of fishing in the area, but, no luck tonight” Billy said. The room seemed to illuminate from the smiles of the patrons at the bar. The questions started, “where ya from Yank? “Before Billy could answer” where did you fish tonight, how long are you down here Yank, where are you staying Yank? “The warmth from the patrons overwhelmed Bender; it was genuine warmth that the local Kiwi’s had for Americans that Billy had never experienced in a foreign country. The barkeep placed a large white ceramic plate full of thick lamb stew, and a basket of warm crusty homemade bread, and real sweet butter in front of Bender. The plate was retrieved from a small sliding window that was cut in the wall at the end of the bar, when opened, Bender could see the outline of a women standing in a full kitchen. The barkeep said “it’s from the Mrs., she wants to make sure you eat it all Yank”. Billy devoured the meal within minutes, it was the finest, and perhaps the freshest lamb stew he had ever had the pleasure to enjoy. During his meal, the patrons had given him loads of advice of where to fish the following day, with names Billy would never be able to remember, local Maori names that were completely foreign. But one name Billy did remember and all agreed it was a must to fish, was the Rangitikie River that flowed north East of the great lake Taupo. The barkeep said that there was an American who had a guide service, just at the bridge that crosses the big river. He was married to a local girl, and he thought that perhaps the Man was also from Montana, or maybe it was Wyoming, he couldn’t remember. But, they all agreed that that would be the place for Billy to go and fish the following day.