Friday, March 21, 2008

Living ThroughA Big Disappointment


It was 1979, and at almost 40 years of age, I had the chance to go to New Zealand with my late buddy, Gordie Charles, the retired Traverse City Record-Eagle outdoor writer. Another person was supposed to go with him, but canceled out.

Gordie asked if I would like to go. Would I? Could I? I had to scramble to get a passport, and it arrived two days before we were to leave. We flew to the New Zealand’s North Island (there also is a South Island), and enjoyed a wonderful eight days.

We fished a lovely North Island stream near Auckland, and enjoyed some world-class action with spawning brown trout. We trolled flies on some of the inland lakes, fished larger rivers, and everywhere we went there were brown trout and rainbow trout ... and the friendliest people on Earth.

We then went to the South Island, a more mountainous area, and fished lakes and rivers to our hearts content. I remember one lake we fished where spoons were legal, and our guide said yellow lures would work great.

I tied on a snap swivel, chose a yellow with five red diamonds Devle Dog (one of the many Dardevle lures), and the guide knew what he was talking about. I hooked 10 brown trout on eight straight casts. Trust me, you are reading that correctly.

Two of the first eight fish were hooked, fought for a minute or two, and they shook free of the spoon. As soon as the lure fell from the trout’s mouth, and I made several turns on the reel handle, another trout would hit the spoon.

All of the trout I caught were released, and Gordie was catching fish on almost every cast. Most of these browns weighed between four and seven pounds, and they acted as if they hadn’t eaten in a week.

We spent some time fly fishing the river that flowed into the lake, and the water was as clear as fine crystal and about two feet deep. Polarized sunglasses helped us sight-fish for the browns, and a No. 8 green, black and brown nymph was deadly.

We’d cast upstream above the fish, allow the nymph to sink as we stripped in excess line as the fly drifted toward us, and the strikes were certain and sudden. It produced some of the greatest fly fishing action I’ve experienced.

Many of the river fish got away. Once hooked, they often jumped and the narrow river had many trees along the banks, and the fish would tangle in low-hanging branches above the water and break off. We’d tie on another 5X tippet, another fly, and move several steps and cast to other fish.

The trip offered the finest fly fishing of my life, and I vowed to return again. An offer came from an unusual source.

My son works in the computer industry with a California firm, and they have clients all over the world and he occasionally must fly to certain countries, solve their computer problems, and once three years ago I mentioned that if he ever had to visit New Zealand, I’d like to tag along.

He called a few nights ago and is leaving for Auckland, New Zealand in about a week. Did I want to come along?

You bet. Absolutely. Count me in. And then the reality of my current situation set in. I’m probably halfway through the healing process with my eye and haven’t got new lenses in my glasses yet. There is a big difference between needs and wants.

I need new glasses to improve my flagging vision. I want to go, but cannot. Needs and wants. Big difference.

I couldn’t drive, and even though I wanted to go, it would be a unwise decision. Flying to a foreign country, and with no way to get around, wasn’t my idea of a good time. Sure, I could walk but didn’t know if there were some trout streams within walking distance of the hotel.

I didn’t want to be too far from my eye doctor, and New Zealand is a very long distance away from anywhere. I remember leaving Honolulu in the early evening on my first trip and we flew all night over the Pacific Ocean before arriving in Auckland about 10 a.m.

My mind (the irrational part) was saying: “Go. You’ll never have another chance.” The more rational part said: “It’s foolish to go without new glasses. If you can’t drive, how will you get around? What will you do all day while Guy is working?”

Another problem is I’d have to have my wife drive me to Chicago to get an expensive hurry-up passport, and that could represent a problem on these snowy roads. There were too many strikes against my going at this time, and I’ve always paid heed to reasons to do or not do things.

However, I asked for a rain-check on a New Zealand trip. I know I could easily write a story each day while down there, but I’ll have to forego the pleasure this time. In the meantime, thoughts of sparkling streams, clear lakes and big trout have been teasing me for two nights.

Hopefully, he will go again and hopefully my eyes will be looking through new glasses and I’ll be able to drive. It’s a dream I hope to realize soon.

Posted by Dave Richey on 03/21 at 05:11 PM
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