Dunstan is Firing!!

July 28th, 2014 No comments

I’m just back from a weekend on the coast where Iza caught all the fish. Before I talk about that I better mention the action on Lake Dunstan from the previous weekend. I was thinking about going back up to the central lakes but the road was closed to towing vehicles due to ice. That made it easy to make up my mind and fish Dunstan. To my surprise the fishing was excellent! Good action all day long each day. I was blind fishing with buggers around the weed beds from the Wakatipu Anglers Club boat. When the sun came out I had opportunities to jump out of the boat a sight fish the flats. There weren’t many cruisers, but I got 2 or 3 over the 2 days. Blind buggering with the intermediate was the way to go. If you’re in the area get out there!

The West Coast mission will be up later in the week… Its starting to fire over there too… sort of!

Ronan..

Categories: Expedition Tags: ,

This is Winter Fishing…..

July 18th, 2014 No comments

I drove the boat through coloured water and thick, freezing fog to get to where we wanted to go. Visibility was down to as little as 20 meters, but it was usually about 100. I know the lake well but the fog was very disorienting. I was searching for a specific area but not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I stopped the boat at the first sight of some weed beds. I knew where I wanted to be, but I had no idea if we were there or not!  Mark quickly drew first blood with a big 5.5lb rainbow. Before long he had another and then we drifted off the hot spot.  Trying to back track to the hotspot just didn’t work. I could not find it even though were we very close to it. Fog will do that. The drift was minimal due to little or no breeze; usually none, but there was some moving water from flooded rivers entering the lake. We haphazardly cruised along looking for more weeds while trying to keep land in sight. Without a visual it would be all too easy to get very lost. As tough as it was to find good water in the fog and murk, finding it was the only way to succeed. Therefore it was that persistence in searching that made the difference. The fog didn’t lift until well into the afternoon and then everything became clear. Our combined effort for day 0ne was 9 rainbows between 4 and 5.5lbs. We had no browns.

Day 2 started with a hard frost but there was no fog. We decided to go back to the same place. We hoped that the rivers would have dropped and cleared a bit over night and that the lake would be cleaner as a result. No such luck! Rain in the headwaters did the opposite. With the water even dirtier than the previous day, it was hard to find weed beds and the fishing started out very difficult. Mark managed 2 fast fish as per day 1 and that was it for quite a while. We used the same gear as day 1, Intermediate lines and buggers fished very slowly to match the extremely slow and delicate takes. After a while we realised the best fishing was in shallower, weedless extra dirty water. Weird. Once we cracked onto this we did well. Fewer big fish but similar numbers. At about 2pm the forecast SE change came in with a vengeance. The waves got big and messy. We braved it for an hour or so and caught a couple more fish, then moved to the shelter of a willow lined shore. I had seen some big browns under those willows while bank fishing a few weeks prior but did not catch any. I had a good feeling. Within a few minutes of starting the drift I was into a heavy, yellow bellied brown. He picked up the bugger with a tiny bit more haste than all the other fish from the weekend, but it would still be regarded as a gentle take. I don’t think I’ve ever observed such consistent delicate takes in my life; the same in both species. Every fish we hooked bar none.

Mark and I had one more each before the end of the drift and the end of the weekend. Our combined effort was 12 to about 4.5lbs. 7 rainbows and 5 browns. A total of 21 for the weekend. (11 for Mark… fucker!)

I might go back tomorrow!!

Ronan..

Categories: Expedition Tags:

The Tekapo Canals…

July 9th, 2014 No comments

15000 escaped salmon certainly attracts anglers! Iza and I went to fish the Tekapo canals near the salmon farms recently. The weather was perfect and there were anglers everywhere. We found our spot in the picket fence on Saturday morning but the fish did not come easy! Bait fishermen were catching a few. Iza’s softbait was not getting much attention and I had to pick my cast with the fly. We walked some of the the canal and got away from the masses. There were clearly a few hot-spots but we chose to have a bit of room to fish freely instead of fighting for position. Just up-stream of the cages there was not an angler to be seen. I walked and stalked from time to time and always saw a few fish, including some of the monsters up to 20lbs but these were never too far from their main food source . The smaller browns, the ones not thriving on fish-farm pellets,  were the ones I most enjoyed targeting. They were tough. Bright sun, glass calm and uniform canal edges meant anything out of the ordinary was noticed by my quarry. There were decent numbers of these 2to 4 lb browns and I have a feeling that this is a virtually unused NZ fishery. I know people fish near the cages for escapees and the pigs of trout that eat pellets, but who walks the edges to sight fish? I’m sure a few do. I will again that’s for sure.

The highlight of the trip was  hearing a loud call from Iza, I turned around thinking (and hoping!) that it was a “I have a fish” call and not a “I’m snagged” call. She was hooked up alright. I ran to her side to help her land whatever she was hooked into. The 5.5 lb salmon jumped repeatedly and fought hard but Iza kept the pressure on and before too long the fish was safely in my net. She has caught a few little fish and lost a big brown at her feet on the Waiau, but this was her first big fish hooked and landed by herself. A great and memorable moment for any angler. Its also some pressure off me!

It needs to be mentioned that these salmon farms are different to those in Ireland, Scotland, Norway and BC. They are contained in inland, man made waterways and do not appear to have any negative impact on wild trout at all. Quite the opposite in fact. Can a lesson be learned here?

Ronan..

Sight Fishing During the Winter Solstice…

June 24th, 2014 2 comments

The shortest day of the year had a gale in tow but the second shortest brought with it ideal sight fishing conditions. I was on Benmore. After a hard frost in the morning the sun rose over the mountain and heated things up. No cloud, no wind, perfect. There were good numbers of fish about. Some appeared to be feeding but more seemed to be cruising by default. These were very tough to catch and exceptionally spooky. The fly and method I had most success with was a size 14 lightly weighted spider, cast to a moving fish and then moved with the figure of 8. Most fish that I hooked took after following which is a little unusual. Normally a follow does not result in a take. There were a few that charged the fly and missed (or I missed!) and a couple that connected. It was a magic day on the water and I’m going back very soon!!
Ronan..

Categories: Expedition Tags:

A Hover of Trout!

June 12th, 2014 1 comment

The weekend before last, Chris Dore and I fished the Frankton Arm. Last year I learned that bright sun is not ideal on the Frankton Arm in winter and that stands true this year. The fishing was slow for most of the day apart from the hour between 2.30 and 3.30. We had 4 in that time slot.

Good old friendly rivalry was alive and well in the boat, 1-0 to Chris, a few hours later 1-1, Then I got a couple (I may have been dragging the line behind the boat as I slowly motored to the next drift, not trolling of course because it was…. an accident, yea.) Some dirty tactics from Chris as he snagged my fly-line almost scuppered my roll to victory. Then another, 4-1. The end score was 4-2 but we weren’t keeping score of course.

I had some good fishing to reasonable numbers of cruising fish at the head of Lake Dunstan last Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised at the numbers of fish about. On Sunday, Kevin and I went on a firewood mission on the Kawarau Arm on Dunstan. We found a hover of trout instead. (My brother with his vast knowledge of all things trout just informed me that a group of trout is known as a hover. Thanks Conor!) I ended up having 2 hours of really good but tough sight fishing. The dull day didn’t matter because the hill on the opposite side was high enough to cut out the glare and spot against. I’m pretty sure they were eating tiny snails, some floating. Another pleasant surprise to get good sight fishing during the worst fishing month of the year only a kilometre from the house! I remember watching Bernard Venables on the telly years ago. He spoke of “a swagger of perch”. Maybe many species have their own specific word for a school.

No fishing this weekend! Iza and I are off to watch the the All-Blacks v England in Dunedin. We’ll also be catching up with some friends. Looking forward to it!

Ronan..

Come Hail, Rain or Snow…

May 28th, 2014 No comments

After a very wet week the river options for the weekend were virtually non-existent. It had to be a lake. There are lots to choose from but Mark and I decided on the Frankton arm on Lake Wakatipu. The forecast was for wind, rain (lots of rain) and snow. The Frankton arm is sheltered and even if it does blow up you’re never far from the shore, so with the forecast, it seemed like a safe bet. We picked up the Wakatipu Anglers Club boat and set off for a weekend afloat..

There are 3 main types of water to fish on Lake Wakatipu near Frankton.

1. Shallows, 3 to 6 foot of water.

2. Deeper water, about 6 to 10 foot.

3. Holes, gutters and drop-offs. 10foot plus..

For the first, I set up a rod with a clear intermediate line with a small possum streamer on it. For the 2nd and 3rd I set up the di7 with 11lb flouro and a Glister. The reason for the heavy tippet is the big fly (The Dore’s Mr Glister is quite big, I used a slender size 6), The reason for the big fly is simply to be noticed! A big fly will be seen by more fish in deep water. It may be the case that we got lots of refusals we don’t even know about using this method but I believe the law of averages will prevail and a good number of fish will attack / eat the fly.

As it turned out on day 1, the intermediate line was not used. I started catching fish on the first drift way out on the drop-off and reasonable action continued with the di7. Mark chose the di5 but didn’t get much action. It’s valuable to know that fast sinking lines are not just for fishing deep water. They fish shallower water very efficiently. There is no need to waste any time counting it down, just start stripping. This makes it an extremely versatile line, in that you can effectively fish 5 to 25 foot down without changing lines.

Mark had no luck on day 1 with the di5. He only had a few touches. Partly because he was not comfortable with his chosen rod but mainly because he was not getting down quick enough. I boated 7 with the di7. On day 2 Mark put on the di7 and changed to rod that suited him. We had 4 each. This proves the value of the right rod and line!

The next time I’m out there I have a method in mind to try out. I noticed lots of small smelt / fry in some of the fish. I’d like to tie a few weighted imitations and fish them on a floater or intermediate line. Figure of eight them very slowly over the weeds and wait for the takes. It has to work! I tried a similar method briefly on Sunday afternoon and I got one or 2. Also, there were lots of light brown caddis on the water over the weekend. There were a few fish moving on them on Sunday afternoon but not many. I know my father would have picked up a few with his double nymph rig!

Mark and myself had 2 excellent days afloat. The weather only made it better. The spray from the waves while motoring, the gusts, the cold, the rain, the snow, whatever! It did not matter because we had the clothing for it. It’s that simple!

I was hoping to fish some rivers during this month of May, but for one reason or another it didn’t happen, besides a fruitless few hours on the Clutha. This Saturday is my last chance to fish a river before the river season ends. We’ll see what happens! Wakatipu is calling me back too..

If you’re new to this and you like what you see and read, please subscribe at the top right of this page. If you have any friends who might find it useful or interesting please let them know too. I’ve been writing this for 3.5 years now so there is a tonne of reading and info in the archives and I’d love for people to use it. If there’s something specific you want to look up, The Mataura, buzzer fishing or Irish pike for example, just type it in the search box and see what you get!

Later folks..   Ronan..

The Mataura.

May 6th, 2014 6 comments

I realised during my recent 10 day fishing stint that there are 2 distinctly different types of angling which I indulge in here in NZ. One is fishing for fish; the pursuit of incredible looking, usually large, rare specimens. The challenge is in the hunt and the first cast, possibly the only cast of the day. Or it’s in slinging an 8wt di7 from morning till night over a drop-off at a west coast river mouth. The other is fishing for fishing; the pursuit of any feeding fish of almost any size, usually in medium to large numbers. The challenge is in having your fundamentals absolutely right and adapting to keep them right without wasting any time.  It’s easy to get lost in one and forget about the other. I did last season, I got lost in big fish hunting, but if you look at the archives from last March It’s easy see why. I did this season too, but not as much. Probably because there were fewer big fish about. Before my break I realised I was craving some fishing, not hunting, so my 6 days on the Mataura were exactly what I needed… after a quick big fish fix!

The Mataura.

After catching a few fish in a riffle I was happy to stand in the river, watch and wait. 12 noon. An odd fish is moving but I’m not bothering with them. I expect the fish to move properly at about 2. I wait. I stand up on a log to allow my feet to warm up. Waders are essential here, once I walk a few paces from this log there is no place to stand out of the cold river. 1pm. Nothing moving. I’m not moving far, a few paces then back to the relative warmth standing out of the river onto a wobbly log can give. Watching, waiting. Some fish are trying to move but it stops again. 2pm. Nothing moving.. I’m too far from the comfort log now to go back. 2.15pm, a few fish move… lots of fish move. It’s on. Now every cast is to at least one rising fish. I’m casting almost constantly. I resist the urge to walk up passed rising fish to get to more rising fish. I’ll move very slowly and try to have a decent attempt at as many as I possibly can. I’m catching fish. My emerger (or whatever it is) is working well. As many fish as there are moving, each cast needs to be placed in front of a feeding fish. A few inches left or right and my fly will not be seen. I keep casting, keep fishing, keep catching, stay focused… I stop and take a deep breath, a quick glance around, a smirk and back to it. Loving it, utterly engrossed, there is nothing else. This is as good as it gets..

I’ve fished the Mataura from the source almost to the sea. It’s a fabulous river which offers virtually every facet of NZ river fishing. My favourite one of these facets is “the mad Mataura rise”. I’m not the only one!

It was great 10 days off. I fished with 2 great friends, Robbie Mcphee and Mark Adamson. I made a few new friends too at the holiday park in Gore. Russell and John, Great to meet and have the craic with you two. And great to meet and briefly fish with Pat Kennedy on the river. We have some mutual friends. Sometimes the fly fishing world is a small one! Hopefully we’ll cross paths again.

The season is not over yet!

Ronan..

Lake Dunstan at the moment..

April 12th, 2014 4 comments

The browns on Dunstan have all but left the top flats. I was there last Saturday. For a while, a large section of the lake was dead calm. In about 2 hours fishing it, I saw only a few rises. I caught one on one of Dad’s buzzers and then went exploring the Clutha River through the various delta channels. I saw a few fish in deep, fast water but could do little with them. I had some nice action in the lee of a willow island to a few rising fish. All up though, the fishing was slow and the rainbows have not arrived on the top flat just yet.. not many anyway.

On Sunday, Kevin and I went out for a few hours, We decided to fish down the lake towards Clyde. There’s lots of fishy water down the road shore. One section in particular had my attention from regularly driving passed it. We went there. We did a number of drifts covering deep to shallow water, weedy to sandy and some rocky edges. Almost every drift resulted in a fish event. We landed 5, The best fish was a 4lb plus rainbow on a nymph David Lambroughton gave me. I was also fishing one of Stu Tripney’s damsel flies, which also picked up a fish or 2!

So that’s it.. If you’re keen on a day on Dunstan, maybe try down the lake. This time last year the top was very slow. By May, the fishing on the top flat was pretty good again for rainbows. Until then I’ll be exploring between here (Cromwell) and the Clyde dam. Hopefully it will produce the goods.

No fishing this weekend.. I picked up a stomach bug and it has me fucked.

Ronan..

A day in a gorge without a net… or food..

April 3rd, 2014 No comments

I forgot my weigh-net and my lunch. After climbing into the steep sided gorge I broke my glasses. What a start! The prospect of not being able to verify a double, should I catch one, worried me more than the difficulty of landing a fish in a gorge without a net. A day without food I can live with. I tied my glasses back together and took on the day.

I fished to a decent number of fish over the course of the day. They were off, not feeding, dogo. Some were incredibly spooky, some allowed me to get a second shot in but then bolted. I took various measures to beat the situation; long leader, extra long leader, fine leader, small flies, streamers, single fly etc but it didn’t matter. I could see from the manner of the fish that they were not playing. They were sitting very still, tail barely moving in the glassy tails of the pools. I pushed on, I decided that on a day like this, my only chance was to cover lots of river and therefore more fish.

At around midday after an early start, I found a small brown happily feeding in a slightly riffled tail of a pool. I put on a dry and he ate it first cast. The bigger fish, seatrout, were still dogo. Try as I might, I could not get a hint of a positive response. Nevertheless, I was happy in my surroundings and still confident that I’d find a decent fish on the fin. Time flew by and before I knew it I was approaching the last pool of the day. I spotted a big fish at the tail. I quickly took my shot. Nothing. Five more shots, still nothing. Streamer… the fish sidestepped the fly and then bolted for cover. I took a few more steps to look up into the pool before climbing out of the gorge and walking out. There was a decent fish on the fin. Ha! I got into a good casting position but could no longer see the fish through the glare. I went back out of the glare to see the fish and mark his position off an overhanging rock. Back into position and I took the shot.. the fly landed where I wanted it to. I watched as the tippet sank beneath the glare.. The tippet was being pulled under at a constant rate by the single weighted nymph. Suddenly, the sink rate increased, just by a little. This was evidence enough to strike. The fat hen fish jumped repeatedly then charged up the pool, while trying to get under every rock and ledge on the way. I landed the fish, took a quick photo and then happily climbed out of the gorge. I had a secret farm dam in mind for the next day…

This weekend? Coast?? Not sure yet!

Ronan..

The steep hill.

March 21st, 2014 4 comments

The hut was at the bottom of a very steep hill. I drove down without incident on the dry mud track while thinking that if this gets wet, there’ll be no way in hell I’ll get back up!

After a tough but superb day’s fishing in a steep gorge it was a pleasure to get back to the comfort of the hut. Our legs were tired after a 300m climb, followed by a 300m decent, followed by a 100m climb, all part of the 2hr walk out. After some reheated home cooking and a few well deserved beers the bed beckoned. I was awoken before 5am by heavy rain belting off the tin roof… I thought for a moment.. Will it pass?? Should we get up and get out?? All I could think of was slipping back down the steep slope in the truck. I hate being stranded, even in an amazing place like this, I need to know that I can get out. I figured that if the rain continues we will be stuck here so I woke Robbie form his deep sleep and we quickly packed our stuff into the truck. The track was damp. Any more rain would have made things difficult but the old Terrano crawled up the hill in low box. By this time the rain had almost stopped. I drove through the darkness for a few ks to a spot which would be less affected by rain. This put us right on the water for day 2… after another couple of hours kip in the truck.

Ronan..