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Driving on the Other Side ( Part 33)

April 23, 2016

The Ford Taurus follows a shady, curvy, rough road,  that after hours finally arrives at a small parking lot parallel to a weed infested spring creek. The creek flows through a small canyon, heavily forested,  with steep canyon walls that allow limited direct sunlight. During the mid-day sunlight, which lasts for close to 4-5 hours, the terrestrial insect life is extremely active. Grasshoppers, Beetles, Ants, and Cicadas are flying, jumping and crawling everywhere. The boys arrived just at the start of the activity, late morning. Mark exits the Ford to stretch and take in the beauty of the moment. ” My goodness, what a fine day”, exclaims Mark has he moves toward the weed-choked creek. Billy moves toward the back of Fish mobile to start assembling rods, waders and selecting flies for the fishing session. Billy ask, “so, how long would you like to fish Mark, we shouldn’t stay too long, the girls are going to be way ahead of us”.  Mark replies, ” Well Billy, we have only a few hours, after the sun goes behind the mountains, it’s over, these bugs need the heat of the rays to keep them moving. I’d say three hours should be plenty if it’s like it usually fishes. What you want to start with is a good size hopper, like a #10, or #8, and they are not picky about what hopper you use, they see very few flies”. From the parking lot, Bender makes a long cast into the middle of a short riffle. Just as the imitation grasshopper hits the surface of the creek, it disappears, Billy is running creekside trying to control a golden, heavily black spotted brown trout that is trying to break him off in the weeds. Mark saw the take, ” nice fish dude, the first cast, oh man, this is going to be fun, they are on today, came from Mark standing just above the “Gin Clear” creek.

nz spring creek

The girls are traveling slowly, not in a hurry at all, stopping to take photos on this fine sunny morning. They see a small “to go” restaurant that serves, grilled cheese and pineapple sandwiches, lamb chops, deep fried, and the specialty, garlic chips( fries) with an assortment of deep-fried fish, snapper, clams, etc…The man behind the counter who looked like Beetle Bailey was dressed in white from head to toe, even wore a white apron, over his white shirt and white trousers. His head was adorned with a white paper hat, regulations, keeping it all legal. ” what’ you have lasses”, came from the cartoon character’s unshaven face. Kelly still a bit high from earlier, stares at the blue lettered (of course on white) menu that is perched just above the head of the owner. Jane was first to order, ” it all looks so good, wow, I’ll have the lamb chops, garlic chips, and a chocolate shake”. Mr. clean from behind the counter shouts, ” I knew it, Yanks, I could tell by the way you dress, different clothes you know, even knew before you opened your mouths”. The two looks at each other, simultaneously say, ” busted”, then, both bend over laughing way harder than they should. Kelly orders the grilled cheese and pineapple, with of course the garlic chips, and 50/50  apple /orange drink. Back in the car and headed North, Jane pulls out the pipe once again. They both break into, ” back on the road again, neither can carry a tune and right now, don’t care.

Billy went upstream, Mark headed down, they were to return at 2:00 pm at the parking lot. Bender was focused, changing flies to see what the trout wouldn’t eat, rather than what they would, the fishing was incredible. After landing four fish, all over four pounds, Bender took the hopper off and wanted to experiment with smaller flies, he put on a size #14 red ant. Walking up the bank Billy stared at the water looking for any sign of a rising trout, it didn’t take long. On his side of the creek, ten yards upstream, he spots a small nose protruding through the surface film. About two feet from shore, and feeding whenever anything went over him. In a small depression, with a smooth current, Bender watched the nose appear on a regular cadence. The bank was grassy, about a foot in height, in places overhanging the creek. Billy always fishes with extra long leaders, 15-17 footers, depending on the wind, usually down to 5x, but with the weed growth of the Spring Creek, Bender elects to fish with 4x to give himself a chance of landing a large Trout. Bender had no idea the size of the trout in pursuit, but he was thinking it maybe was in the 6lb category. The first cast is perfect, it lands around two feet above the nose, and floats downstream without moving. The nose turns into a large mouth, has it inhales the #14 Red Ant, Bender sets the hook, and all hell breaks loose. Airborne is a 30+ inch Brown Trout, bending, and slashing, gills flaring, as the beast rose two feet above the surface, it’s an image that Billy will never forget. As it lands on its side, it quickly shakes itself to reality, and heads into the thickest weed clump in the immediate area, and is free once again.

It was a longish walk back to the parking lot for Bender, shaking his head the whole way, trying to figure out just what he could have done to land the golden beast. Mark was back at the car waiting, ” hey man we better hit the road, or we will never catch those two women”, Billy looks up at the sound of Marks’ voice, to catch himself, and try to quit thinking of what had occurred. Mark, ” That was epic, dude did you get some, what was your largest? Whoa, they were on today, never seen it so good here” Bender just smiled as he put everything back in the Ford, not saying a word. Mark was persistent, ” come on man, what happened, you must have hooked a monster, didn’t you? I hooked into some real pigs, landed five fish that were from 5lbs to 8lbs being the largest, what the hell did you hook into?” Billy smiled and said, ” it’s a long drive, I’ll tell you all about it, but you’re right, we need to get going”

It’s late afternoon as the two ladies decide to wait for Billy and Mark at a Pub, they don’t want to get too far ahead. They spot a light brown colored sign that reads DB, and they both decide this is their favorite beer in New Zealand, so it just made sense to wait for them here. The pub had rooms as well, it can be seen from the road, they both say in perfect unison, ” spot on”. Kelly and Jane get plastered, have a pub Tea, or dinner, and pass out before 8:00 pm. The boys catch up around 9:30, find both gals snoring, re-enter the pub to tell fishing stories and drink until it closes. Billy turns to Mark as they head off to bed and says, ” that was the largest Trout I have ever seen, it won, I’ll never forget the jump”. I think I’m done fishing this trip, I’m going to see if Jane wants to head to Fiji a few days earlier, I’m ready to start the Honeymoon.” Mark replies, ” I don’t blame you, that is one fine gal you’re going to be calling your wife, you’re a lucky man Billy Bender”.

Billy and Jane spend a week on a private Island in Fiji, Billy splurges and takes Jane to Turtle Island. Its just Billy, Jane, and a Butler, who is out of sight and appears only on command, to bring them anything their hearts desire, at anytime day or night.

images Fiji


After their week in Paradise, Jane returns to Denver to packs up and move to Great Falls Montana, to live out the rest of her days as Mrs. Jane Bender, and to become a legend at Century 21. Becoming the top sales agent in the entire Northern Rockies.

Kelly and Mark spend a week together traveling around the Northern part of New Zealand. Kelly’s extended vacation comes to an end, and she returns to work back in Denver for Century 21. Mark goes to Hawaii for another week, before heading back to Montana to get ready for another guiding season on the rivers of Montana.

Billy returns to Great Falls and quits working for DA Davidson, much to everyone’s surprise. He becomes a full-time fishing guide on the Mighty Missouri River, running into Mark a couple of times a month. They both plan a return trip to New Zealand, with the southern Spring Creek high on their list, Billy cannot forget that big trout who got the better of him, he will return.



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