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Fishing Season ( March – October )

March 22, 2013

Fishing Season ( March – November ).

My Greatest Day Fly Fishing, Thus Far Anyway

March 16, 2013

>My Greatest Day Fly Fishing, Thus far Anyway A mod-me-squatting-with-bo                                                                                                   (Mark Daly)

OK, some people just love the month of December, Christmas, snow, shopping, and for some, the start of the Ski season. If I had to rate it on a scale from 1-12, 12 being the bottom, for me December would right there, near the bottom. Maybe not on the bottom, but close, more like # 11, January has to be the worst month in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s right, only half the globe lives in the darkness of winter, and December is the darkest month of all. So, why would I rate December over January? The bird hunting season closes Jan 1st, so, there are still some hunting days left in December, of course weather permitting… Looking back at the “dark month” brings back many memories that have nothing to do with darkness. I can remember many Decembers, that it was  the beginning of summer, long , warm , sometimes extremely hot days, going to the beach in Australia to watch a bikini contest, or hiking in the Mountains of New Zealand, sitting lakeside in southern Chile swatting enormous black and orange ‘horse fly’s’, drinking wonderful wines and eating empanadas.  And of course, fishing in Patagonia Argentina, walking and casting up-stream to rising trout sipping on Mayflies, in back eddy’s under the intensely green willows that grow along the river’s edge. For half the planet, this time of year is summer, the longest days of all twelve months. I have spent 14 out of the last 20 seasons in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoying the warmth of long summer days. Still, I would have to say that December ranks near the bottom on the scale of 1-12. From a fishing perspective, December can be the best month to have incredible trout fishing in the Southern Hemisphere; it is the equivalent to our June here in Montana. Some years June is by far the most productive month; it is dependent on one thing, water levels. It is the same for December south of the Equator, water levels are crucial for trout fishing. It is a real” hit, or miss “circumstance that can be epic when it all comes together. Case in point, I was living on the Traful River in Southern Patagonia in 1997, it was in December, about this time of the month. There were no clients staying at the lodge, and no body was scheduled for another week or so.  I awoke that morning to a perfect sunny, high pressure, windless day. I was eager to get down to the river to start fishing, and decided to walk the mile or so to the rivers edge and work myself down stream and end up at the best pool , the “Gate pool”. (La    Tranquera).  I was married at the time, and told my wife (Magdalena) that I’d be at the gate pool at 2:00 and please come and pick me up for lunch. She said she would, and she would come early to do some fishing there as well. It was one of those ‘magical” days, if you fish long enough and hard enough , you might get to experience something like this day, if you are very lucky!

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( I started at the top of the photo in the faster water. Larger salmon hold in the pool.)

I started the day in a “run” that holds land locked Atlantic salmon. This river has some that have been caught, up to 18 lbs., most are in the 4-7 lb range, a large Salmon would be 8-12 lbs . In this run , I have never seen any over  5 lbs, and on this wonderful morning I was lucky to land two in the smaller size, both around 3 lbs. It was a good start, but, I felt like it was going to be really a special day so I kept moving down stream. I passed on some water that is difficult to get a proper drift, and concentrated on only the ‘hot spots”. The next run down, I “bumped” another salmon, but, I was too wound up and set the hook to0 soon, I kept moving. Just below here I rolled another salmon, then, caught my first rainbow of the day, a 4 lb hen that fought very nice. I moved down and made a good cast down and across the run and quickly was into a good-sized rainbow buck of around 5 lbs. I was really wound up by now and had to” reel in” and walk around the “‘falls”. I stopped to look at the white cascading water crashing over the terraced granite outcroppings forming the falls. What a sight, and what a spectacular day. I was thinking, maybe I should just skip this water and walk down to the “Tranquera” and try for some huge trout. I had been fishing with a hi -d sinking tip, and was thinking of changing lines to a floating Weight Forward. This would allow me to either nymph fish, or fish large dry flies. For now this water below the falls would be much easier to continue with the sink tip, and so I did. First cast, 3.5 lb rainbow, I got him in quickly, and made another three cast , boom, a gorgeous brown that was close to 4 lbs. after several more cast , nothing, time to move, I did not want to waste time just fishing water, it was not a day for that.

Part 2 December, Sun, Fun, and Huge Trout (Just Below the Falls)

After the falls, the water is a long quiet pool for around 300 yards; it holds nice sized browns and salmon. The water was just a little bit high to get in and fish it properly, so I skipped this stretch and moved down toward “La Tranquera”. It was about another 10-15 minute brisk walk past riffle water that would have been also just a little fast to fish and get a drift. I changed lines by the side of the river, just above the gate pool, out of the wind, to rest just for a minute, and , to look at the water near the shore known as the “Pisci”. Here if one takes the time, one can see huge mouths coming to the surface to feed on stoneflies, mayflies and caddis, but, one has to really look to see them. The surface is broken riffle water and the bottom is covered in a dark-colored moss. It takes a trained eye to spot these trout, in between the small waves created by the water pounding over the “bowling ball” sized rocks. I tied on a “Traful Wasp”, in a # 8, a black rubber legged, foam fly, with an elk hair and crystal flash wing. It was 1997; we were fishing a lot of similar flies, and developing many other patterns that have different names today. I started at the bottom of the run, it is only around 50-75 yards long, and at times the fish are stacked in this area. The water is shallow, at the deepest maybe 3 ft deep, most of the run is between 1.2 -2.5 ft in depth. I took 6 very nice trout, 5 rainbows and one brown, all between 4-7lbs, on the “wasp” in around 45 minutes. It was the best I’d seen in that run, it was just the day, and I had not even cast a fly into the best water, La Tranquera pool.

Part 3 December, Fun , Sun and Huge Trout

                                          (Happy Angler with a large Traful River Rainbow, Gate Pool)

 Now, it was only around noon when I finished my Dry Fly fix, and it was time to try for some very large trout. In December on the Traful, large “lake run” fish are passing throughout the river system. The Traful is a good-sized river, but it is only a tributary to a much larger river the” Limay”, which also is “born” from a huge lake, south of here around 38 miles near the town of Bariloche . So, the Traful river starts from a lake ( Lago Traful) , and it is a relatively short river , around 20 miles long before it enters into the Rio Limay, inwhich started up-stream from a lake around 38 miles. Now, where the Traful enters the Limay, is yet another lake formed from a dam just around ten miles down stream, the actual moving Limay river is south or, up-stream  just a couple of miles , but , all three lake systems are connected. A trout born in Lago Traful, or a tributary coming into the lake, can swim down stream, and swim back upstream through the Rio Limay to enter an enormous lake with rivers flowing into it, they are all connected. The two older lakes are eco systems within themselves, with lake trout, brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. Funny, they tried in the early 1900’s  to introduce ” Whitefish”, but they did not survive , because their mouths were so small and could not feed on the local crayfish ( Pancora crabs), that are found in amazing abundance, in Chile and Argentina. Due to the abundance of food, and the enormous size of the lakes, the fish grow to incredible sizes. The brook trout use to be caught up to 15 lbs, giant brown trout and rainbows are caught every year. On the radio going into Bariloche , I remember hearing about  somebody that was fly fishing who had caught a brown trout in the mouth (Boca) of the Limay river, that was well over 20 lbs. Fly fishing is a big sport in this part of the world, it has a long and rich history, much like our American West.

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(Lago Traful)

I decided to fish the Gate pool with heavy, good-sized nymphs. I know what you’re thinking; why not dry flys, com’on, whats with the nymphs. But, we are talking about very large trout, the problem was, that the water was moving with a heavy current, most of the bigger fish were in the “slots” where the water was deepest, holding on the bottom, and you could see them from time to time move and take a nymph. In order to allow the trout to see the fly, in this deeper, fast-moving water, it made sense. I had developed some “prince” style nymphs that were tied on very heavy curved hooks (size # 6 and #8), with the largest beads made to help get the nymphs down to the fish. (This was before Tungsten was available). The problem was , the water is “gin clear”, the fish are feeding on stonefly nymphs, but the hook needs to be heavy enough not to bend out, and the tippet must be strong enough to hold the giants. Indicators needed to be small not to spook the trout, but float well enough to be able to get a decent drift.There were a lot of factors going into the preparation of the equipment, and I felt like I had it all together. To give the fish a chance , I was using a Sage 9-#6, a light rod for this type of fishing, but perfect for the fish I was catching earlier.

I started from the shore and cast into the first current line, this run usually holds quite a few fish, and this day was no exception. I hooked and landed four rainbows from 3–5 lbs and the largest was near 5 lbs. In this run the water is a bit slower than out in the middle and on the slot just off the far bank. The depth is varying from 3 ft to 5 ft. Just on the other side it shallows again to around 2.5 ft, where you can wade up and down the pool. The entire pool is 100 -130 yards long, with the top of the run and bottom both being the shallowest.

After releasing all of the four fish, I slowly waded in where I just fished. The water came close to the top of my waders, but I stayed dry and made it to the shallow gravel bar and started casting upstream with the extra large prince nymphs into water that is very fast and shallow, but most of time holds good-sized trout.  It was amazing , the amount of fish holding in the shallows, nearly every cast I was hooking up, most bolted out of shallows throwing the big hooks, and jumping free, again and again, like the fly was still attached. But, I managed to land 3 or 4 that were all nice sized, 3-6 lb trout, one brown and the rest rainbows.  I had on a stonefly I’d tied with a saltwater hook, just to make sure it would be strong enough, and I was using 1x maxima, for insurance. I made a cast upstream and a little more towards the middle, but still in the shallows, the line tightened and I really set the hook. At first, I thought it might have been the bottom, it was heavy like I’d hooked a boulder, then the boulder moved, I knew it was not an average fish. The monster was 20 ft upstream of me, and I could not even budge it. I started moving towards it and reeling fast, knowing that it would be making a quick move to get to deeper water, I was ready. The giant copper-colored brown came straight up and out of the water 3 feet into the air, bending and shaking, I can remember seeing the red flaring from its gills, it seemed like the fish was in the air for a long time. When it landed, it ripped line off my reel so fast, all I could do was hold on to the 6wt. Sage and wish I’d brought a much heavier rod. In less than a few seconds the monster was 80 yards below me, 3 feet out of the air once again, then, the line went slack. I was numb, all I could do was hold the rod and watch the Goliath jump, and jump, and jump further down stream with my #6 prince nymph hanging from the side of his mouth. For a second I felt sick, then I caught myself, com’on, it’s not like your having a bad day! But, I’d take one monster over all the other trout that I’d released earlier that day.

My best estimation of that Brown was it had to be at least 18lbs; it was the largest trout that I have ever hooked. I brought the line in to examine what could have gone wrong.  On the trouts first run, it was so powerful and strong, that 1x maxima was no match for the boulders that the lay on the bottom of the river. I knew that I was going to have to step it up a notch to land one of these truly enormous fish. I went to shore to and found some 15lb maxima, and after digging around the 20lb appeared. Ok, now, let them try to break this.

Part 3 December, Fun , Sun and Huge Trout

(Right behind Barbara is where I hooked all three “monsters”. This photo was taken in February, when the water is much lower). (Gate Pool)

Now ready with some really strong tippet ( 20lb Maxima) I waded back out on this fine December day to see if I could land one of the” big boys”. I started where I left off, casting up-stream with the special Prince nymph tied on a # 6 saltwater hook. I was not getting the action I was earlier, the flies were floating downstream, without being molested, I started casting up and out toward the middle of the run. The sun was straight up above; the light was penetrating and breaking through the surface of the water illuminating everything in its path, straight to the bottom. I could now see some log like figures holding on the bottom looking like missiles, their elongated shapes moving ever so slightly to take in a passing stonefly nymph. The clarity of the water made the depth difficult to determine, but, I could see the darkish green flies were just not getting down to the correct level to be seen. I added some weight, and cast further upstream to allow the “bugs” to bounce along the boulder latten bottom. It took a few casts, but finally the line tightened, the fish who did take was not one I was watching, but rather another trout that was further up-stream. I could tell it was a very heavy fish, it would not budge, it was in deeper water than the last trout that sped off to get out of the shallows, and this one was moving right to left, nervously, not knowing where to go. I was in waist deep water in an extremely heavy current; I wanted to move back into more shallow water in case I had to follow this brute down stream. As I stepped backwards, I slipped on one of the “greased bowling balls”, but, caught myself before falling. My movement allowed the line to come up slack for a second, as it did; the golden beauty leaped eight feet sideways toward the bank on the other side.  Another brown trout, an equal to the last, but, this one looked heavier and shorter in length. It made its run cutting through the water downstream, at a diagonal, dissecting the pool and heading for the shore behind me, in a very deliberate move.

I thought at first this was strange behavior, why would it head toward the shore and not try to escape downstream. Just then, the line became much heavier, it was wrapped around the only log in the entire run. The huge golden-colored brown trout was slashing and jumping until it became free. There was nothing I could have done, the fish won, it was the second fish in the last hour that kicked my ass, both being the two largest trout that I’d hooked up to that time.

Upon examining the equipment, I quickly noticed that the fly was still attached, at least the tippet held, but looking more closely, I noticed that the saltwater hook was completely “bent out”, Shit, I can’t win today, I guess something’s got to give, I was beginning to take this personally, I needed to focus, how many chances could I have?

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(Magdalena Bustillo)

I looked into my fly box and saw a fly, that was similar to the flies I was using earlier, but it was tied on an extra stout hook, made for large steelhead. With this fly and the 20 lb maxima, I felt like I had my “mojo” back and was ready for bear! I waded back to the spot where I hooked the last monster and saw the other large shapes that were holding near the bottom. I was working on one of the elongated shapes, casting upstream and watching the new fly that was nearly in the zone. Just as I cast somewhat further up-stream to get the bug down to the correct level, I heard something behind me. It was my wife at the time, Magdalena, “Que Tal Che”, she greeted, catching any? She had her rod in hand and was heading quite noisily toward me wading out to where I was watching this grey ghost starting to notice my dark green bug. Whoa, Magda, wait, I’m just about ready to hook this really big trout, he’s… just then, the line tightened, “Damn” , said Magda, you have been fishing all day, and I haven’t even had a cast. She stormed out of the river, and was pacing on the bank. I told her to get the camera, this would be the largest trout she ever saw, we need pictures! She got the camera and just then, it came out of the water, straight up, at least five feet, it looked like a Tarpon, bending and slashing continuously until it landed on its side throwing water in every direction. “My god!”,exclaimed Magdalena, what is that? She started taking photos of the water in hopes of another spectacular jump. I told her to wait, there where only a few shots left (film, not digital). I had to concentrate, I wanted this one, I’d lost two earlier, this one was a rainbow, not a brown; this was a spectacular trophy trout.

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(“Magda”  on the Traful River)

I decided to hold my ground, not follow downstream, it was making a very long run, all the way to the end of the pool, I was getting near the end of my backing. I bent my rod parallel to the water’s surface, and toward my side of the river, this was it, either it was going to stay in the run, or it was gone. I held my ground and bent the small Sage to its breaking point; I could hear the graphite start to really stress, what was going to give this time? I asked myself, what this time? Just then, the Goliath turned and started back up into the Pool, it made three jumps in a row, with over 100 yards of bright red backing slicing through the water with each jump. I knew I had him, he was not getting away, not this one, he was going to be mine. I put the heat on him knowing that I had 20lb tippet and an extra stout hook, what else could go wrong? Then it hit me, the fly could “rip out”, Shit, I’d better be careful, just then rrrrreeeee… went the reel and he was off again, jumping and running, all the way down to the very end of the Pool, I turned him once again, and again he came back into the Pool. I moved over to the bank to get a good angle on him, and direct him over to the shallows. I told Magda to get ready, this was it, I had to land him now, or that big fly might just rip out. Again, I stressed the 6 weight Sage near its breaking point, and the giant rainbow complied, and held in the shallows. I grabbed the tippet, dropped the rod and took the gentle giant by the tail and put my other hand under his pectoral fins. As I lifted him gently out of the water, the fly fell from his mouth; it was landed just in the nick of time. Magda shot as many pictures as were left on the camera, six, as fast as she could. I then gently returned the beauty back to safety of the rushing water. He swam away strong and steady, and my ex-wife and I looked at each other, and both said the same thing, WOW!.

Part 3 December, Fun , Sun and Huge Trout

{The Rainbow, 33.5 inches in length, 24 inch girth}

When I woke that morning, I had a feeling it would be a special day on the river. I had no idea that I would be able to experience anything of this magnitude. It was without a doubt, the finest day trout fishing that I have experienced up until now. Ask me again in twenty years, who knows?

Part 1 , December, Sun , Fun, and Huge Trout

 I wrote this story as I remembered how that day started, and, finished, no exaggerations on fish numbers or sizes. My wife at the time (Magdalena), was a good sport about allowing me to fulfill, and complete a fantasy day fishing. I was very glad she came when she did, for one, to be able to share at least the climatic finish to an absolutely unbelievable fishing day.  And, second, for helping with the taking of the photos, I’m sure  it would have been a very disappointing to have photos of such a once in a lifetime spectacular trout, shot on the wet shore, laying on its side, flopping around with no real scale for size,  instead I have photo’s of the best Rainbow trout I’ve ever landed. For that, thank you Magda!

Just so you know, even on this river, I have never seen the fishing as good as it was that day. All the Planets and Stars where in perfect alignment, the weather, water level, time of the year, and the run of fish, all happened on the same day. I did try to repeat that day, over and over, fishing as hard as possible. I went out the next day, and everyday for the remainder of the week. I had very nice fishing, and did catch some good trout, but, pale in comparison to this day. Later that year, or maybe the following year, Ted Turner purchased the “La Primavara”, the ranch that boarded the other side of the river. Since then, the fishing has never been the same on the World Class Rio Traful, that story is for another day…

Spring is in the Air!

March 6, 2013

 

Spring is in the Air!

 
Spring is coming faster than you think, give a gift that will inspire memories to last a life time. Imagine this….

The Missouri River from Wolf Creek to Cascade Montana has some of the finest Fly Fishing for trout found anywhere.

Drop dead gorgeous scenery abounds in all directions, 

 Huge Trout and beauty unsurpassed, hard to beat,

This season give a gift for the Spring, Summer, or Fall.

Spring fishing starts at the begining of March, great fishing for hungry trout gorging on Midges and Baetis. Dry fly, Streamers or Nymphing . The bonus this time of year is ….No weeds! Clear cool water…

 And did I mention.. Big Trout!

The Summer months are warm and  it is comfortable to wet wade. Hatches are incredible, Caddis, PMD’s , Trico’s, Hoppers, Ants and Beetles, there are many options for fishing.

 

The Fall season starts with the first big storm, usually in the first week of October. The hatches are some of the best found on any river. Midges in the mornings, Baetis the rest of the day, great Dry Fly fishing Sun or Clouds, but on the cloudy days the river can be covered with Mayflies.

Spring , Summer, or Fall, wonderful fishing, beautiful scenery, top quality, professional guides.

Book a trip today, a 50% deposit will hold your dates for the up coming 2013 season.  Call 406 459 9642, or E-mail markdaly2010 @gmail.com. CASCADE OUTFITTERS

Driving on the Other side ( Part 26 )

March 4, 2013

nz spring creek

As Bender started his drive toward the Hunters home, he came to a pull off that overlooked the Gin clear river named after the family dynasty, in which the river meandered it’s course until it reaches the Pacific ocean. A spectacular river indeed, not too large to intimidate,  and not to small to become a bore if fished many times. A perfect small river that snaked it’s way through the Valley grassland. Billy was drawn to the beauty of the overall complexion of this wonderful body of water and stopped by the side of the road to have a closer look. Like many fanatic Fly Fishermen, when one gets close to a River with Trout, one needs to stop and have a closer look. Bender thought about what Ann Hunter had said to him the first day they met, how she had caught a 12 lb Rainbow on a Dry Fly on this very river. He thought Ann must fish very well indeed to catch such a large trout on a river such as this, not an easy accomplishment. Billy’s mind started to wonder, thinking about what Ann would look like in waders and all the gear for Fly Fishing, it brought a smile to his face as he returned to the old Ford wagon and continued his drive along the river to the Hunters home.

Kelly and Jane had a smile on their faces as well, but not due to a River, nor fishing,  just because they were in the company of a charming man, who happened to be a couple of years their junior, who was single and free.  Jane pipes in  ” hey we are almost at the parking lot and the beginning of our hike’. Kelly, ” I’m ready to get some exercise, this will be great, what about you Mark, do you like to hike?” Mark replies, ” Oh yea, I hike all the time in Montana, usually 3-4 times a summer, we have some great trails in Montana, just about all over the Western and Central part of the State”. Jane says, ” I’m glad we don’t need a tent, the idea of having huts is way easier”. Then she adds, Mark, I’m from Montana, I grew up in Great Falls, we use to do some hikes out of the “Bob”, Bob Marshall Wilderness, I’m sure it is much wilder hiking than this will be, I mean they don’t have bears or any native mammals here, nothing to attack you”.  Mark with a huge smile add, ” I’m so glad that you two feel comfortable with my presences, it would be such a drag if you were uptight. But, if you want to be attacked Jane, I’m more than game, give me the word and I’ll be your Grizzly bear. Jane smiling from ear to ear pipes in, “Sweetie, you can’t rape the willing, and for you, I’m willing, so, let’s just leave it at that, OK?” Kelly turns to Jane and asks, ” are you going to tell Mark about Billy? Just then the Dark green Land Cruiser comes to a stop in front of a sign that reads ” Milford Track, Start Here”. The three all jump out and stretch, Jane adds,” Mark, it’s a long story, I’m not so sure you want to hear it”. Kelly barks out, “Janie, Billy is only 150 miles away, you’re not going to tell him!” “Give me a break Jane, chances are they are going to meet”.  Jane with a look that could melt steel says, ” OK, I’ll tell Mark tonight, you OK with that Marko?” And the three start to assemble the gear to get ready for their three days, two nights hike.

NZ Milford trck

Bender is negotiating the gravel road that leads to the Hunters home, there has been some damage from the big quake as Billy has to get out from time to time removing large boulders that have been displaced onto the road. After a fifteen minute drive, Bender finally arrives to find Jack and Heddy Hunter waiting for him at the front door. In Billy’s mind flashed The Field, the classic British Magazine that is for sportsman of the UK, unconditionally always showing photos of men and women clad in their Logan greens, Jack and Heddy could have been on the cover. As Billy approached he notices that both Hunters are quite tall, Jack at least 6″4 and Heddy close to 6″0 herself, and both as handsome a couple as Billy can remember ever seeing. Jack Hunter with his long arm outreached to welcome their new guest, greets Billy with a ” Welcome Mr. Bender, I’m so sorry, Ann isn’t here to welcome you herself”. Bender replies, “please you can call me Billy, very nice to meet you, what a beautiful property you have, I’m so impressed” Heddy is the spitting image of Ann, a lovely woman who in Bender’s mind must be close to 70 years old. Heddy is tall and thin, her head is covered in long, straight, silver hair, tied back with a piece of black velvet, she is from head to toe in Green Logan. Jack is also adorned in Green Logan with the exception of his brown leather boots, that come just below the knee.  Jack also has straight, silver locks, a bit longer in length than Billy is used to seeing. Both are warm and inviting, with enormous smiles inviting Billy into their home. After the formality’s the three enter the kitchen and sit at a long wooden table where three places are set for an informal lunch.

Heddy asks, ” So Billy, I understand that you met a dear friend of ours last night during this awful Earthquake, Kate Granger?” Billy, ” yes, I did, I was spending the night at her B & B, Kate was so gracious to allow me to stay, you know she wasn’t really open, but she gave me the four-star treatment”. With a rather large smile, Heddy remarked, ” I bet she did indeed”. Then Jack asked, ” how was the road down here, it must have been an awful mess, how bad is it in Christchurch? Bender replies, ” the road wasn’t too bad, they have crews out cleaning up most of the mess, but Christchurch is in ruins, I’m afraid.  Jack, “well, that will take some time, tell you the truth, we were quite lucky here on the farm, not much damage at all, thank god”. Heddy, ” so, you spoke with Ann last night? Poor girl has to work, she is in Australia on another photo shoot, last minute, but she insisted that we take good care of you, she said you were quite a sportsman?” Bender laughs, ” well, it sounds like Ann is the one, she told me she caught a lovely 12 lb Rainbow from your river, on a Dry Fly”.  Jack in a quick response, ” Ann did that when she was not quite so busy, I think she was 16, maybe 17, but that was before she started working like crazy”. Heddy, ” oh Jack, she loves her work, you know Billy, Ann is quite famous, she is getting to be an excellent actress, besides from the modeling”. Bender, “I know, the flight attendants made a big fuss over Ann on the flight down, she seems to be all the rage”. Heddy, ” well, she is almost as famous as her cousin Rachel, who is an international supermodel/actress, who married quite well. For some time it seemed every magazine we saw had something about Rachel, but, now that seems years ago, these days Ann has taken over”.  Jack, ” well, we sure don’t get to see much of Ann these days, with her working as hard as she does, Ann is our youngest, so, now we are here on the Hunter Farm alone. Heddy, “So Billy, you seem to be a few years older than Ann, have you two known each other long?” Billy feeling a little heat from the question replies, ” No, we just met on the flight down here, Ann was gracious enough to invite me here to try out your river, she knew I was an avid Fly Fishermen”.

The three finished their lunch and moved into the sitting room, where coffee and dessert was served, the questions continued. Heddy,” So Billy, Ann said something about you taking some time off of work, she didn’t mention why are you on vacation?” Bender looked down at his empty plate, then, spoke, ” to tell you the truth, I wish it was on a real vacation, my company gave me a month off to have time to discover if I was negligent in allowing our security system to fail. I will know next week what the outcome will be, but until then, I guess I’m on vacation.  Jack, ” Ann mentioned that you work at an investment brokerage, things must be difficult at best these days, I can’t even begin to tell you the losses we have seen in the past year or two”.  Billy, ” yes, I know, it’s a worldwide disaster, affecting everyone, I’m the head of security for a homegrown Investment company in Great Falls Montana, we were hacked by a couple of thugs  from Eastern Europe, the timing could not have been worst.” Jack, ” well, enough about that, you get settled in, and we can go out and have a look at the river and see if we can’t find a few rising trout, what do you say?”

Jane, Kelly, and their new friend Mark donned their backpacks and started the hike, along with a dozen or so other hikers, in a rain forest that many who have completed this hike, say it is one of the most scenic paths on the planet. Kelly was quick to have a look at the other hikers to see if there was any potential looming, for she was tired of Jane having all the fun.

February 17, 2013

Craney-acks unite…….

cascadeoutfitter

Last night while going through the Channel’s, I came across a small movie on PBS, a gal had made about her relationship with her father, and it was interwoven with her love of  Sandhill Cranes. Her father seemed to be a bit reclusive, he shared with his daughter his passion for carving birds out of local woods, her father died at a fairly young age. From the carvings, and her fathers passion for bird watching,  she became, what people who are very enthusiastic about Sandhill Cranes,  are referred to as “Craney-acks ” This was her way of relating with her father, in-which she did not have a chance  know all that well.sandhill in flight single

This small movie brought back for me very vivid images that I will never forget, that took place when my dog Pearl was just a very small pup, eight years ago.

I finally was in a position in my life in 2005, to stay in one…

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Once in a Life time Experience, Sandhill Cranes.

January 13, 2013

Last night while going through the Channel’s, I came across a small movie on PBS, a gal had made about her relationship with her father, and it was interwoven with her love of  Sandhill Cranes. Her father seemed to be a bit reclusive, he shared with his daughter his passion for carving birds out of local woods, her father died at a fairly young age. From the carvings, and her fathers passion for bird watching,  she became, what people who are very enthusiastic about Sandhill Cranes,  are referred to as “Craney-acks ” This was her way of relating with her father, in-which she did not have a chance  know all that well.sandhill in flight single

This small movie brought back for me very vivid images that I will never forget, that took place when my dog Pearl was just a very small pup, eight years ago.

I finally was in a position in my life in 2005, to stay in one place, I had just bought a house in the North Valley of  Helena Montana. Previously, for the  past 16 years I had traveled from Montana to Western Patagonia in Argentina, guiding Fly Fishermen for the months of  November-March. I stopped the gypsy lifestyle in the year 2004, acquiring my Real Estate License and changing my life style for good. One of the benefits of my new grounded lifestyle was that I was in a position to once again have a bird dog. I did some research on Kennels that were within a days drive from Helena, and choose a Kennel in Bozeman Montana. It was in February when I got the call that the pup was now eight weeks old and I could come down and choose one. It was a warm, windless, sunny day at the end of the month when I arrived at the Kennel that was located near the four corner area outside of Bozeman. Here I was brought into the Kennel area with Labrador Retrievers of all different colors, sizes , and ages. The owner took the Mom out and me into the area where the pups were running around like small black rats. The smell was very pungent coming from an area with 10 puppies , eating and pooping , it reminded me of a small pet store. Now it was time to pick, the owner explained that  3 of the male dogs were spoken for, but I could select any of the females, which left seven to choose from. I did not want to be the person who spends 3 hours playing with all the pups, so I got down and called the unruly pack , they ran away with a look as if I wanted to eat them. But, one stopped, it hesitated, it wanted to come and say hello, but all her sisters were running for their lives, she joined the pack.  I turned to the owner and said I want that one, the one who stopped to have a look.

The drive back started off with alot of crying , nothing worse than a puppies crying howl, it sounds like a wounded monkey. It was past mid-day and I was hungry, not wanting to leave the pup in the truck, at  Three Forks I drove through a “Wheat Montana” drive thru and ordered a Turkey sandwich, on sourdough, loaded and with a slice of Swiss Cheese. The little black rat was sitting on my lap and  really screaming bloody murder, so I took a small piece of  Turkey and fed her, well, not only did the howling stop, but,  instantly I was her best friend. To this day, Turkey is her favorite treat.pearl first night

I brought her home and let her explore the house, I put down newspapers in hope that she would  go on the papers, she avoided the papers like they were not to be pee’d on, and, avoided at all cost. Each time she would start to pee, I’d pick her up and brought her out into the back yard and encourage her when she went outside.  But, once inside she would just start to pee, avoiding the newspapers again at all cost, like they were special and not to be pee’d on. This time I needed to pee, so I went  outside, she watched, then she pee’d. Ever since my dog saw me pee outside, she got it, it was never an issue again. When she needed to pee or poop, she would stand near the door that leads to the backyard, I knew I was lucky and got one of the smart ones.pearl cute pup

Her name is Pearl, Black Pearl Girl, she was an exceptionally cute pup, as you can see from the photo above. I trained her and worked with her everyday, she was introduced to bird wings just days after she became part of my life. And, she love the training in the backyard pthat went on for the next four to five months. Pearl has never been one of those dogs that bothers you about throwing  a dummy, or a ball, or a stick, she learned there was a time to play and a time to stop.

pearl sniffing pup

The training became part of everyday life for both of us, a routine of sorts that we both looked forward to at the end of each day. One of the ways I was training Pearl was to tie Pheasant wings on her throw dummy, then she would have to sit, stay and retrieve on command. Her favorite was playing  “dead bird”, where I would make her stay in the house, and I would hide a Pheasant wing in the backyard. I was fortunate to have a very large backyard,  and I had planted quite a few bushes, trees, and flowers of all kinds. It was full of good hiding spots to ensure she was using her nose to find the hidden wings. At first I noticed she could find the wings by following my scent trail right where I’d hidden the colorful wings. So, I’d have to walk all around the yard, hide the wing, then walk some more so she couldn’t find it so fast. Another way to to gain enthusiasm for the smell of game birds,  was to tie a wing at the end of my fly line , and cast the wing out around 25 feet or so and have her try to get the wing, with me moving the wing over the grass in a seductive manner to entice the young  pup  to try and pounce upon it. This was also a good way to get her running ,  just behind the ever moving wing, kinda of a carrot on a string technique, that of course she would get, if  in fact she ran fast enough. She would drop the wing on command , knowing this was just a game, and she had won. My neighbors enjoyed watching  this training technique more than the others, some-days I could hear a ” get it Pearl, get it” coming from the other side of the fence, along with laughing and knee slapping.

That summer I took Pearl in the drift boat with me in a small crate that rested at my feet while I was guiding Fly Fishermen on the Missouri River, from Holter Dam to Cascade. Most of my clients liked having the young Lab along, and there were quite a few request for me to stop and let Pearl out so she could swim and have cool drink of river water. Of course, there was alot of  dog talk as part of the fishing trip that summer, and I found out that some folks actually have their dogs sleep inside their beds. No, I did not say on top, which seemed to be fairly common with most of the anglers, but actually inside, under the sheets. Others told me they never let their dogs inside the house, even during winter when the temps would go as low as -20*. Both of these examples are extremes, but both very true, I find myself somewhere in the middle, my dog lives in the house, but she has been trained not to get up on the bed , nor furniture, she has never done so, never sneaked like some dogs, that as soon as you leave they are up on the bed( I’ve had one of those before).

September finally came after a long hot summer, the first Saturday in September is the start of the upland bird season in Montana, with the exception of Pheasants, which starts around a month later. The beginning of the season is usually hot, it can be very hot depending on the year, and this year it was pretty warm. With the heat I decided to go into the mountains to hunt grouse, Pearl was now six months and love to run. I headed up a drainage outside the town of Lincoln in hopes of finding some Rough Grouse. Much to my surprise, just out of the parking lot at the start of the trail, three Grouse rose quickly, I reacted and downed two of the three birds. Pearl was excited , but not really sure what she should do, until I said, “dead bird”. The young lab became very serious and started  in a back and forth routine covering the area where the two birds fell. One of the birds was just wounded, and moving about,  frantic to escape. Pearl saw the movement in the tall grass and chased the ever moving Grouse until I said ” fetch”, where she pounced upon the bird and retrieved it to hand. It was Pearls first taste of a live bird, and she had a mouth full of feathers, which made me laugh, knowing this was her first real retrieve, and just the start of  hundreds of  birds that she would bring back to hand. The young dog was beside herself, and took a couple of victory laps full speed, not unlike the circles she had learned to chase the wing that was attached to the end  Fly line. There was still business at hand, there was a dead bird, I could see it around 20 yards away in a clearing in the grass. ” Dead bird, dead bird”, I said to get the pup back to the seriousness of the situation, and she started once again with the back and forth movement with her nose attached to the forest floor. In her over zealous enthusiasm, she ran right over the bird more than once, so I stood next to the Grouse  until she slowed enough to find and fetch it.

It was a special day for both of us, it created a bond that would last our lives, a day that at least for me I’d never forget, one never knows what goes on in the brain of our furry friends.

PheasantMy plan to make sure that Pearl was introduced to Pheasants the right way, that October I planned to drive to North Central Montana  to the town of Malta. Near here, is Bowdion National Bird Refuge, most years there are quite a few Pheasants, this year was no exception. My plan was to take a four or five days and hunt Hungarian Partridge, Sharptail Grouse, Pheasants  and some Ducks. I left Helena two days before the Pheasant season started, with my plan to hunt around Havre, and work my way East ending up at Bowdion for the Opening. We arrived the night before the opening , and drove along the lake road to survey the surroundings and to decide on a place to start hunting early the next morning.

Sandhill Bowdion Map

As we drove along the lake road, pheasants were common, where ever there were some trees for cover. I choose a spot to park and hunt that would be easy to find , even in the wee hours of the dark thirty of the mourning. The next morning came fast and we drove the few miles from Malta to the Refuge, getting there with only a few other folks in line to sign in before hunting. I found my spot, and I decided to start hunting near this small creek that was lined with Trees and bushes of different types and sizes. One thing I did not consider was the  height of the grass that was wild and never cut, it came up to my chest,  and for a small puppy, it was like being a bug in a rug.  Just before it was completely light , Pheasants were getting up all around us. This being a National Refuge, I sure did not want to shoot a “hen” buy accident, so I let many Pheasants fly without shooting, then a large , colorful,  rooster flew out of the grass right in front of me, it was an easy shot, the bird went down in some cattails that were thick along the small creek. Pearl was not able to see anything , let alone where the rooster had fallen, but I had the spot marked. As I moved through the tall cattails, Pearl was following behind close to my heels. I looked all around where I had marked the spot, and I could not find that dead bird, which seemed strange because it sure looked dead when it dropped. It dawned on me that it may have been just winged and fell like it was dead, and ran and hid, which meant I’d never find the  large, beautiful rooster. I felt bad , I hate to loose birds, I kept looking for another 10-15 minutes , nothing, it seemed hopeless. As I turned behind me to check on Pearl, she was gone, now I was feeling really bad, calling out for her in a frantic cadence,”pearl come, come on, Come”, while slashing through the cattails that were taller than I was. There was some movement coming from the grass in front of me, just then Pearl appeared, she was proudly holding the lost pheasant in her small mouth, the iridescent  purple , red, and brown bird looked giant in the mouth of  this seven month old puppy. It was a sight to see, I got down on her level and she brought the bird to hand, she was hugged and petted for sometime, “Good Dog, Good Job Pearly, Good Dog” was repeated and repeated. She got it, she knew what her job was, and she loved her job, it made me complete with with my new pup, we would be a team.

I moved closer to the lake where the grass was not as tall, and shot two more roosters, walking close to where they landed and allowed Pearl to find a retrieve the  two other birds. She now was not walking behind me, she had moved out in front, running  with a huge smile , stopping and smelling pheasants everywhere, but we were done for the day, and headed back to the truck. The rest of the day was used to explore the area for other types of hunting opportunities, we drove north looking for spots to walk and hunt sharptails, or Huns. I found on my map an area that looked hopeful, and we walk up and down coulees in pursuit of  the other two upland  species, it was a good walk , but no birds, three hours later, I felt like a nap might be in order.

sandhill landing on lake

Late in the afternoon, I drove to the north side of another large lake to the East of Bowdion,  looking for a possible place to duck hunt. It was on a muddy road that was difficult going, and seemed like it was never ending, but after an hour or so, I finally made it to the North side of the lake. By this time, it was starting to become a long sunset due to the intermittent clouds that were forming from the North, the colors were an intense Purple, Red, and  Gold, not unlike the beauty of the Pheasants that we had driven so far to hunt.

sandhills sunset

Off in the distance this strange sound started, at first I wasn’t sure what it was, but looking towards the North I could see thousands of Birds migrating  right towards me. They were flying in large V Platoons of around 100 birds per group. There were thousands of the Platoons, flying in terraces at different levels, as far as I could see, the Platoons kept coming and coming. As the birds come closer the sound was increasing, until the first platoon started to drop and fly just over the tops of the Cottonwood trees that lined the Lake, in which  Pearl and I where standing in complete dis- belief.  Sandhill Cranes, they were migrating to this Lake to stop and Rest on their Journey South, and Pearl just seven months old was completely immersed in this rare opportunity to witness, and being so close, be part, of amazing ritual  of nature. The sound was near deafening, I’m sure it was what really sparked Pearl’s interest, it was like being at a rock concert , front row, the noise was incredible with the shear numbers of Sandhills flying over head so close. The energy from the amount of Cranes all in one spot is hard to explain, it put chills up and down my spine, Pearl ran up and down the beach of the Lake like a dog possessed, barking and running like crazy. The Cranes just kept coming and coming, their landing spot was just behind where we were standing, it was like they were funneling into this area, and Pearl and I were standing right at the end of the funnel, with every bird flying right over us, most of the birds a mere forty feet above us.

sandhills in squadrons

sandhills small groups at dusk

It was starting to become dark, and Pearl and I needed to get back to the Motel, it was going to be late by the time we returned to Malta. I do not remember the drive back, but I will never forget the total  experience, the colors of the sunset, the deafening call of an incredible amount of Cranes finally returning to a familiar place after a long tireless flight, and,  being at the point of destination of  close to 20,000 Sandhill Cranes,  in all their fabulous glory, flying  just overhead for more than forty minutes straight, this phenomenon made me a Craney-ack.

Fishing Report from The Mssouri River Cascade MT Nov 7th 2012

November 8, 2012

I saw a couple of boats out today, it snowed almost the entire day, cold , not to windy, but wind…Last week we were in the 60’s, this Saturday the high is going to be 2 *. I looked at my boat today completely covered in snow, and thought, for 16 years about this time of year I would be in San Martin De Los Andes, Argentina. Spring would be just beginning, the Trees an intense, bright, vibrant green, the wind cool , but not bitterly cold, and the sun a blazing fireball peeking through the puffy white clouds, that seem to be continually moving East. The rivers full to the top of their banks, not alot of holding water , but always enough to wet a line. The trout famished after a long dark winter, willing to strike at nearly anything that moves near them.

What a contrast, here in Montana it looks like the middle of Winter, snow covering everything as far as the eye can see. The Missouri River is very low, as low as I have seen it in years, I noticed how much character the River has in this low water state when I was out early this morning  walking my black Lab Pearl at the boat ramp  here in Cascade.

Low water, snow? There are blizzard warnings for the next two days, in Argentina they are looking forward for the rivers to drop so they can get across a channel to fish the other side. In Argentina they are having to be careful from getting too much sun and wind and getting burned. Here in Montana one has to make sure he or she has enough clothing so they can stay out to duck hunt, or for the real hard core, Fly Fish!

I’m sure that the two boats that I saw out today had a good bite, but someday’s, it is so painful to be out in this kind of weather, that it takes the fun out of even great fishing.

Driving on the Other Side (Part 25)

April 29, 2012

Bender reaches Christchurch around mid-day, Billy is stunned by what he sees. Homes, stores, schools, Apartment building all in ruins, destruction in all directions, he is glad his destination is out and away from town, and, the concrete jungle that has fallen to ruins. Transportation in and out of town is at a standstill, the Airport is shut down, along with the Rail lines, the only means of travel is the road system, and it is bumper to bumper all through the city. Bender is trying to make his way to the southern part of the city to join Highway 73 and drive 12 Kilometers west to the Hunters Farm, but it is slow going, and at times at a complete standstill.

Directly to the East,  Jane and Kelly are making their way south towards Te Anau, traffic is very light, and the girls are not completely aware of the devastation that has occurred on the other side of the Island. They have been driving for a couple of hours when Kelly asks Jane ” so, what do you think Billy was up to staying in the wine country”. Jane turns to Kelly and replies ” I don’t know, and, I don’t care, Billy is going to do what he wants, so, why should I worry about it ?” Before Kelly could say anything, both girls were looking hard at a hitchhiker with his thumb out, standing on the side of the road. Jane, ” is that Mark from Montana without the sexy swede ?” Kelly boasts, ” I believe it is, look at that, could be our lucky day”.  Jane turns to Kelly with both eyebrows raised and asks ” Who’s WE, white man, remember the deal, you said you would be happy with the sexy Swede, and I had dips on Mark, RE- MEM- BER?” Kelly sighs and with a pathetic look on her face and begs ” com’on Janie I’m ready to pop, I’m soooo ready, I could, oh hi Mark, funny to find you out here all alone, by the side of the road”. Leaning on the driver’s side of the Landcruiser Mark sticks his head into the vehicle and announces, ” ladies, you have no idea how good it is to see you two, I have been out here for hours, man I’m I hot” .With a devilish smirk, Jane pipes in with”  Throw your pack in the back and climb aboard, with a muffled voice adds, your not the only one who is hot, and then leans her head way back and laughs”.

Billy, after what seems like hours driving through Christchurch finally is heading West on highway 73, traffic is flowing on this secondary road, most people were heading south just to escape the nightmare. Bender is heading straight toward the Snowy Mountains, and with each kilometer, he sees an improvement in the realm of reality. It appears like east of Christchurch was, for the most part, spared from all the devastation that Bender can see in his rear view mirror. The fault line moves in a North-South direction, most of the damage was along the fault, Bender knew he was driving in the right direction. At  kilometer 11 Billy slows to look at mailboxes with hopes of seeing the name Hunter written on the side, no need, just ahead is an entrance with a large wooden gate, and on both sides of the gate are two matching, 14 ft tall  de-barked trees trunks, there is a 3 ft tall banner like wooden sign  that connects the two trunks that read ” HUNTER”, pretty hard to miss. Just inside the gate is a small house made of stone and wood with a dark Blue Metal roof, as Billy approached the gate, out popped a Maori looking women carrying  a large set of keys, she smiles with a total of five teeth showing, and ask, ” are you, Mr. Bender?” Billy nod’s his head. The women hold the gate open as Billy drives through, Bender stops to thank the gatekeeper , and she adds, ” stay on the main road for about 3 kilometers, the road follows the river to the main house, you’ll be right , no worries”, Bender smiles, says thank you , and then continues on a well maintained gravel road that indeed follows  just above a beautiful spring creek like river that Billy soon finds out is named, The Hunter.

With Montana Mark sitting in the back, both girls attack with questions, firing like machine guns during an assault. First Jane ask ,” So, where is the sexy swede?, are you two still together?, are you heading down to do the Milford track?, how long do you plan on traveling?, when did you leave the States?” Montana Mark is smoking on the small pipe that Jane handed him as he entered the  Landcruiser, with a breath holding, “well…, exhale, so many questions and so much time,  wow, that is so nice, that hits the spot, thank YOU, now, Anna and I split up that day I met you two! In that small hut, remember, there were two other backpacks, well , it turns out, that two young, really cute Aussie girls were the owners of those packs. After you two hiked off, these two walk into the hut, completely naked, I didn’t mind , but Anna thought it was a bit much, she got pissed off, then looked at me and said , “lets go”. So, we hiked out  about 30 minutes behind you two. When we got out to the road, Anna told me she was heading North, and as you know, I planned on doing the Milford Track  to the far south, so, she went her way and I went mine.” Kelly turned toward the back seat and said” Poor little Anna, don’t worry we will take care of you”‘

Driving on the Other Side (Part 24)

April 7, 2012

On the  West Coast at Lake Brenner the damages from the great Quake were minimal, registering a mere 3.3 on the Richer scale. Inside a lakeside cabin, Jane and Kelly are simultaneously waking, not because they want to, but rather due to a penetrating and powerful sun beaming through the large east side window that looks out on the lake. ” Did you feel that movement last night “Kelly ask Jane. ” No, what are you talking about, what, movement? Kelly, sweetie, we will get you laid, I promise, just hang in there”, Jane says laughing,  laying in her double sized bed, the sheets pushed down to her feet. “Janie, no I’m serious, there was like an earthquake or something, you didn’t feel it” ask Kelly as she rises from bed and heads to the coffee maker. Jane, ” no, I can safely say that I did not feel a thing until this morning when I noticed how dry my mouth was, and how hot it is in here”. Kelly replies, “Well, I’m telling you, the earth moved last night and it had nothing to do with my dreaming about that hunky, blonde, Aussie stud Alex last night. Jane laughs and says, ” whatever, it is just a beautiful day, we should pack up and head down to the Milford Track and start our hike”.

As Billy drives out of the driveway and on to the main highway towards Christchurch, he is stunned to see the amount of debris on the roadside and the road itself. There are men in blue jumpsuits and yellow hard hats with chainsaws, cutting trees to be moved off the tarmac. There are men working about every three Kilometers, cutting and moving branches, and fallen trees, Billy notices that even some stone and brick walls have fallen over from the horrifically strong  Quake. There is destruction everywhere, it is a disaster of the worst kind, and appears to be getting worse as Billy drives south towards the southern capital of Christchurch.

After a light breakfast, the girls load the land cruiser and start the drive South to start the two-day hike on the Milford Track. Driving through Moana they spot a supermarket and decide to buy what they will need for two nights out while camping. As they enter the market there is a newspaper stand, there are Huge Letters in the Headline “CHRISTCHURCH DESTROYED” Quake 7.2, destruction all over the East Coast, 200 plus hospitalized, death count now at 32 and rising. ” I told you, “says Kelly,” it was in the middle of the night, the room was just rolling, of course, you were snoring.” The photos show buildings completely destroyed, homes crushed, cracks in the ground, destruction of the worse kind. Jane holding the newspaper firmly on both sides drops it downward, then looks up at Kelly and with a look of disbelief and shouts, ” Billy, shit, he’s in Christchurch, I’ve got to call him”. Jane is shaking and having a difficult time dialing, there is no answer, She tries again, no answer, “Shit, shit, shit, I can’t believe this”, comes from the pacing honey blonde. Jane keeps trying, nothing,  Kelly then says, ” Janie, try a text, maybe he is out of range someplace, but he might get a text”. Jane does send a text, she is waiting, and waiting, nothing,  the two girls decide to shop for food since they were right there. While trying to decide on which cheese would do better for camping, Jane’s phone  makes a soft sound of a guitar strum, it’s a text, ” Janie, I’m fine, spent the night way north of CC in the wine country, hope your OK , my best to Kelly, miss you, Billy”. Kelly with raised  eyebrows  says, ” Wine country, Janie I don’t think you even want to know…” Jane with a look of discussed says “Well, at least the SOB is still alive”. The two girls finish shopping, load the bags and start the drive to the Milford track, Jane pulls out the small pipe and the interior of the Land Cruiser fills with the sweet white smoke, it’s a beautiful day on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Driving on the Other Side ( Part 23 )

April 6, 2012

At the Pub, both girls start feeling worn out, Jane tries to block a yawn and Kelly sees this and cannot cover her mouth fast enough, both start laughing and giggling. Finally, Jane says ” Kelly, I have got to hit the hay, I don’t know about you, but I’m beat”. The surfer dudes look anxious, Alex barks out, ” girls, it’s really early, we can go out dancing later, but the disco doesn’t open for two more hours, com’on, don’t split yet”. Jane stands and pronounces,” I’m going to bed, long day for this gal, I can’t wait for my head to hit the pillow. Are you coming with me Kelly, or are you waiting to hit the disco with these two young men?” Kelly grabs her bag that was strapped hanging over the back of her chair, stands, then tucks her wavy red hair behind her ear and announces ” Janie, I’m with you girl, let’s hit the hay, I am baked, sorry boys, you picked some old ladies”.”Ooohhh ” came from the mouths of C and Alex, the boys felt like it was their lucky night, but they were wrong, it just was not in the cards.

After sitting alone for some time on the back veranda watching the Moon rise and the trout feed on top of the placid lake surface, Billy starts to feel his eyelids become heavier and heavier until he catches himself snoring on the couch. ‘OK, ” Bender was thinking that he indeed, needed to go to bed, tomorrow will be a very interesting day, thought Billy.

Bender laid in bed fantasizing about Kate Granger, her smell, her smile, which seemed to turn up just slightly at the corners of her seductive lips. He was thinking how nice it would be to run his hands through her dark red, thick hair from behind and caress and kiss her long elegant neck. Bender was just starting to nod off when he heard his watch and some coins on the nightstand start to rumble and move. Then, Billy could feel the bed start to gyrate and shake, at first he thought that someone was trying to wake him, but the whole room started rolling, like being on a small boat on a rough sea. The door to his room opened quickly, with a panicked Kate Granger holding on to the doorknob, ” Billy, it’s a bloody Earthquake” exclaimed Kate. Bender sat up covering his privates, but his hairy chest fully exposed. Kate was wearing a sheer sleeveless silk nighty cut short and barely covering her lady parts. Billy did not have to wonder what Kate wore to bed any longer, the reality was better than his wildest imagination. Another big roll from the center of the earth planted  Kate stumbling atop of Bender and into his bed. “Billy, I hate these earthquakes, please hold me, hold me tight”. What seemed like an hour of horror, in reality, lasted around 2-1/2 minutes, when the shaking subsided there was an eerie quiet, Kate and Bender laid in bed looking into each other’s eyes, and then, began to lightly and slowly kiss.

The next morning, Billy and Kate both awoke in each other’s arms very early. Kate kissed Bender with a short peck on the lips, then got moving quickly toward her own room. The Inn was a huge mess, things had fallen off of shelves, off of tables, there were cabinets that had toppled over nearly breaking all contents. There were broken bottles of wine in the dining room and food all over the kitchen floor. It was just a mess, and now it needed to be dealt with, quicker the better. The staff got going as soon as they knew Kate was awake, not wanting to disturb her. On the Tele was news about the Great Quake, 7.2 on the Richter scale, a huge earthquake. The anchor on the news was speaking very excited and was saying that  Parts of Christchurch are demolished, that the epicenter was right in Christchurch, and hundreds are hospitalized and the death toll was close to 22 people, and the count would most likely rise.

Billy walked into the dining room to find Kate and the staff scurrying about cleaning like small tornadoes. “Oh Billy this is such a mess, I’m so sorry, I’ll get your breakfast” came from an obvious shaken Kate Granger. Billy blurts out ” can I help?” “No, no, please be seated, I’ll have your breakfast in just a minute”, came from an apologetic Kate Granger.” I have bad news, Christchurch was at the epicenter, and the damages are extensive, buildings have crumbled, houses destroyed, many are in the hospital, and the death toll is 22 and rising, it’s a bloody huge disaster” came from Kate.

Billy sat eating breakfast with Kate, when Kate jumped up and blurted, ” Jack and Addy, I’ll call them right now, I hope they are alright, they live only 12 kilometers out of Christchurch, my god, what a disaster”. In less than five minutes  Kate returned to say that the Hunters were fine, minimal damages and that they are expecting Billy later that day. They were expecting Billy anytime, that Ann was unfortunately called to Auckland to meet with a photographer who is setting up a shoot in Australia, but she left word that Mr. Bender might be coming, and to make sure he is well taken care of. Billy’s cell phone rings and it is Ann Hunter,” Billy are you alright? Where are you? I didn’t know if you were coming down or not, I have to fly to Australia for a photo shoot, I’m so sorry.” Bender, ” No worries, I’m fine , there was minimal damage here, I’m staying with Kate Granger, I just decided to spend the night here in the wine country, and it turns out you both know each other”,  ” Katie, put her on”, the two women banter back and forth , there is laughter, giggling, some serious talk, then Billy is returned the phone.  Ann says , “Billy, if you would, please  go and stay at my parents farm, they are expecting you, and they may need an extra hand, there is an outside chance that I may get some time off , and if I do I’ll be back home in three days, I’ll call you tonight, gotta run, talk later”.

Bender packs the Taurus wagon, then head into the Inn to thank Kate for everything and to square up on the bill. Kate is behind the counter, making sure there is some physical barrier between herself and Bender.  It is awkward for both, there is something between them, but Billy is heading south. “I just want to thank you for everything kate”, comes from a stumbling Bender, Kate smiles, Billy adds, ” so what are the damages? Oops maybe  the wrong term, how about how much do I owe you”, they both smile and Kate says, “nothing your welcome here anytime, if it doesn’t work out with Ann, remember, I’m here all alone” Billy leans over the counter and very softly kisses Kate Granger on her luscious lips, then turns and walks to the car . Billy waves then starts yet another adventure driving south towards the demolished city of Christchurch…

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