I got to borrow a bike. For one week I have a pretty nice mountain bike.
My evening shifts at the pizza place has made going fishing impossible. The two hour walk to the river mouth too far, and honestly going on any walk after a shift at a busy restaurant seems near impossible. My feet are always swollen, my face greased from pizzas steaming into my face all night, and my legs ache; the couch is usually my go to. But a bike, a bike opens up new doors, because I get to sit, obviously I’m still using my legs, but I get to sit.
The other night I got out of work at an early 8pm so I immediately went home and grabbed my rod, sweater, and rode off on my newly acquired bike. I biked on the white gravel path that turns with the banks of Lake Wanaka and has side paths that branch off and lead to private beaches that beg to be explored. I took one the side paths, not very gracefully since I am not very use to mountain bikes, and skidded onto the empty stoned beach that had thick moss reaching into the water. The moss was vibrant among the gray and black stones and the moss grew darker and filled as it crept into the water. Hydrating and filling as each little wave crashed. It was cold and it was about to be night but I couldn’t just sit at the waters edge. My feet felt the cold and the air left my lungs in a loud exhale. I walked as fast as I could on the slippery rocks and as soon as I could I jumped in and swam against the waves. I couldn’t see anyone else, the bike path was empty this late at night, and the mountains were shadowed with the setting sun.
I still had a few kilometers to bike until I got to the river. My legs pumped, my heart followed, and the cold water shed from my warming skin. I biked past the busy river mouth because I had a bike to take me further. I ended up on a moss beach. It was a beach of thick moss with no trees. The bank dropped quickly into the water where the clear blue water was knee high. It was so pristine I just sat for a moment, glad I could bike beyond the normal river mouth. Slowly I set up my rod and as I did I saw a long rainbow trout swimming right at the bank. It was so close to me, so clear, I almost put down my half made rod and jumped in the river to grab it. I shook the nonsense out of my head and figured I might want to stick with a rod and fly. I began to put my rod together quicker and watch the water more keenly. A father and son came up next to me and asked me if I saw the fish. I could see the dad’s excitement become greater and greater and his son mirroring him. I didn’t have my fly tied on my line yet so I let the dad fish that spot, see if he could catch the taunting rainbow. He didn’t catch it and he generously gave me my spot back once I had my fly tied on. I gave the little boy my polarized sunglasses so he could see the fish, just like my dad use to do for me.
After bites, a few little yells of frustration, desperate tugs of the line and the sun set I decided it was time for me to go home. I asked the father and son what they were doing at this little spot, since not many people got there. The dad told me that his father took him to this spot when he was his sons age and that’s when he started fly fishing. He told me it took him ages to find the spot since he hadn’t been back to this exact spot since the day his father took him out. Now he was there with his son. Letting him pick out the flies, pointing out where the fish would be, beginning to teach him the art the same way his father did for him.
None of us caught the fish that night but each of us smiled. We all knew how special this moss beach was, how amazing it was to be able to see a fish that close and in such clear water. We walked only thinking about that rainbow trout but we also knew that the fishing that night wasn’t about the fish at all, at least for them.