Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Driving on the other side... ( PART 8 )

Bender was up early and moving the following morning, first thing after coffee he stopped by a book store and found Rex Forrester’s, Trout Fishing in New Zealand. Here he discovered maps and information about Fly fishing on both Islands. The first part of the book was dedicated to fishing the North Island, with illustrations of flies that were local favorites, maps showing roads leading to all the different trout streams, and photos of spectacular trout caught over the past 60 years or so…Some of the fly's were the same patterns that Billy grew up fishing with on the Sun River, and the Big Missouri River that was just east of the Benders farm nearby the towns of Cascade, Craig, and Wolf Creek, MT. This section of the Missouri was Billy's favorite trout water he had ever fished. Here trout feed in large assemblies on the surface called "Pods", ingesting any insect that was either hatching, or, dying and floating over them. When Bender was first learning to how to fly fish, his uncle would guide him in their small wood drift boat and they would float from Holter Dam, down to the town of Craig, stopping on all the Islands to get out and wade fish. This is where Billy learned how to present a fly to a large, single trout feeding in very shallow, clear water. Long leaders, fine tippets, and a good cast, were necessary to present the fly in such a manner as not to "spook" the unsuspecting trout that may be feeding in water just barely covering its back.
From the book store Bender walked down to the corner where he saw a sign that read "Ace Rental Cars", the advertisement said that they were the largest rental car company with the cheapest rates in all of New Zealand, sounded perfect. Bender made a deal with the store manager to rent the car for 30 days, unlimited mileage for $300 NZ, and, Bender could drop the car off in almost any town on either Island, since "Ace" was in fact the largest rental car company, this seem ideal for what Bender had in mind.
Billy packed and loaded the Ford Taurus station wagon, and before checking out called Angie to thank her for her hospitality, and told her he would take her to dinner on his return in about a month’s time. Angie wanted to join Bender on his journey, pleading with him to take her along, but Bender just laughed and said he'd call her from time to time to stay in touch.
Billy drove south east toward a very interesting area of the North Island called "Taupo". In his new book were pictures of Hot Spring’s, and hot pools that were very similar to the Yellowstone area, with geysers, hot mud, and beautiful trout streams, all around a huge lake ( lake Taupo ), it was a near carbon copy of what Billy had seen many times in the southern part of Montana in Yellowstone Park. In the book that Billy had purchased, it had pictures of giant trout being caught in the mouth of a river called the" Waitahanui ". Here fishermen would line up out in the lake where the river entered, spaced evenly forming what appeared to be from the road looking out on the lake, as a "picket fence". Every evening, as the sun set, small bait fish felt safe enough to enter the currents formed from the river entering the lake, and feed on the nymphs that flowed in from the river. This brought the huge trout in to feed on the bait fish. The trick was to be able to cast far enough to reach where the bait fish felt like it was safe enough to feed. In the lake where the river entered, it was filled with sand from the eroding river, making the first 30-40 yards very shallow and easy walking. Then, there was a deeper channel, this is where the bait fish felt safe to feed, and if necessary, could divert and move into deeper water if pursued from large predatory trout. So, the fishermen all formed the so called picket fence along the channel, waiting for the enormous trout to start on the "feeding frenzy" that took place most evenings during the summer months.
Billy checked into a small motel about a mile from the river, planning on fishing a number of different rivers and creeks that entered the gigantic Lake Taupo, and of course, Billy wanted to try and become part of the famous picket fence, and land one of the trophy fish of Lake Taupo. Bender had four different Fly rods with him, all 9 footers, and all 4 piece rods for traveling. He had a 9ft -#5, 9Ft-#6, 9Ft-#7, and a power house 9ft -#9, just in case he was able to do some saltwater fishing. Bender had floating lines for all the rods, and sink tips to match all four of the different weight of Fly rods. But for the #9, Bender had a hi-d shooting head, 30 ft. length, tied on to a mono running line. It was a cannon, Bender was an excellent caster, with this outfit he could shoot the line well over 100 ft. Billy choose to try his luck with the #9 the first evening at the mouth of the Waitahanui, since he read that it took a long cast to get out where the large trout were feeding on the baitfish. He bought some local flies at a gas station near the mouth of the river; they had names like, Mrs. Simpson, Hamills Killer, and Grey Ghost, wet flies, or streamer patterns to imitate the baitfish that occupied the mouth of the river.
Billy was ready, with his "Shorty"Simms vest and extra tall Gortex waders, the #9-9Ft TFO rod, and his large arbor reel. Bender waded out to get into position and take his place and become a post within the fence. Just then an Elderly Maori man waded within a foot of Bender and said, "You’re in my spot". Bender thought this must be a joke, but, the old man was not joking, "no," he said, " Your in my spot". Other members of the "fence" told Bender the same thing, you’re in his spot, move down, let him in there, he fishes here every night." OK," Billy said “no problem, I'll move down", the old man smiled and thanked Billy. Then, the old man told Billy what to expect, he said, " the bait fish will start to boil, you'll see them jumping out of the water trying to escape, with the large trout coming out of the water after them. When you see this you must cast around ten feet in front of the big trout, then start stripping your line in". The old man showed Billy his fly, it was just like what Billy had bought at the gas station earlier, a # 4 Grey Ghost. The sun was just setting with the golden glow piercing the horizon, blinding for just a minute the view of all the fence members, then, all you could hear was slashing of bait fish on the surface. Blinded by the golden glow Billy started to cast, the old man told him to wait, “not yet, wait " he said, just then the sun set and they could see again, and what a sight it was. It was like nothing Bender had ever seen in fresh water, it was like a scene from saltwater fishing. Bait fish jumping for their lives, two to three feet above the water, with 7-10lb trout, mouths open in hot pursuit; it was a wild, beautiful sight with the golden hue from the sunset lighting up the background.  Just in front of Bender, 70 feet away, a very large trout came out and porpoised chasing a small school of bait, both the old man and Bender cast at the same time to lead the trout. Bender overshot the target; the old man made a perfect cast, and connected with the leaping Rainbow. It tore off line and headed for the depths, but the old man had years of experience in landing large trout , and with his # 10 fiberglass rod, subdued the monster within minutes, he had it in hand , he clubbed and killed the trophy. Turning to Bender, and said, “we are poor, I need this for my family, thank you for letting me have my spot, we will eat good tonight". The light was fading fast; the old man waded out dragging his 8lb Rainbow through the shallow of the Lake, and then disappeared.
It was Billy's first evening of fishing, in a land very far from home, he had experienced sights he had never seen before, it was the beginning of December, it was warm, and he was trout fishing. Bender knew this was going to be a very special, traveling, and fly fishing in New Zealand; he couldn't wait for day two.

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