Have you ever heard the one about the Englishman, American and Tasmanian? Allow me to explain.
We had flown in to Taupo airport on the North Island of New Zealand and it started to rain. Two hours earlier, when we left Blenheim, on the South Island of the country, it had just finished raining.
On our way to David’s house, we began to climb the hill at the South West corner of Lake Taupo. The rain became so ferocious that we pulled in by the side of the road. Twenty minutes later, we edged back onto the carriageway as the deluge eased off to a downpour.
Twenty yards in front of us, the steep embankment began to crumble and slide into the road. I slammed my foot down hard on the accelerator and just managed to outrun the land slip before it inundated the road.
Welcome to the North Island.
As we pulled into David’s yard, Mal (otherwise known as the Nantucket night fisher) appeared from the back door.
“Isn’t this rain great?” he enthused. “It’ll get those trout running for sure, we’ll catch ‘em tomorrow night.”
Mal migrates from his native Massachusetts to New Zealand for three months every year; he is a legend amongst local anglers.
I’m not quite sure what happened for the next few hours. Steamed fresh green-lipped mussels and amazing grilled lamb steaks were helped along by seriously good Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and examples of Hawkes’ Bay Merlot that never sees these shores.
Apparently, I agreed that Mal and I would meet at 5pm the following day.
As we assembled our gear at the allotted time, Mal took the time to outline his cunning plan.
“That drop of rain will have raised the level of the Kuratau Lake which is drained by the Kuratau River into Lake Taupo. The increased flow of the river will bring lots of food downstream to the mouth of the river.
“The fish will sense the arrival of the chuck wagon and gather where the flow enters the lake. The guys we are after will turn up to eat the fish that chased the chuck wagon.”
So, the Englishman and the American turned up at the sandy bay where the two waters meet. As we made our way to the waterside, another angler waded to the shore and shook Mal warmly by the hand.
“G’day mate, how yer hangin’” We have our Tasmanian.
I was enthusiastically greeted by Gary from Tas. I formed the impression that most of the male population of Tasmania are called Gary.
“How long yer here for” asked Gary.
“Just two days” I replied.
“You need to catch a fish pretty sharp then,” he announced.
The next gesture just blew me away. My new Tasmanian friend assured me that he was fishing in the best spot; he absolutely insisted that he should relinquish it to me. I really did protest but he would have none of it.
Next, his fly box materialised and he tied a Grey Ghost onto my leader. I was led into the water by the arm.
“There they are mate,” he said pointing with his finger.
I cannot think of a better expression than gobsmacked. As I followed the finger, I could see huge brown trout rolling in the edge of the current - they were about the size of a Gloucester Old Spot.
I began to cast my fly into the flowing water and was rewarded for my efforts with a series of tugs that all but wrenched the rod from my hand.
I landed six brown trout in all, the best one weighing in at around six pounds, without doubt, the smallest one in the shoal.
That evening is now etched into my memory. Kuratau bay has become ‘The Bay of Pigs’.