It’s All About Attitude!

January 14th, 2019 No comments

If fly fishing for you is all about hooking, playing and landing fish then New Zealand is not for you. The New Zealand fishery, certainly the South Island, is much more about the pursuit of trout then it is about catching high numbers. I’ve been really lucky in my guiding so far in that I have rarely guided people with unreasonable expectations. I got a text from one of my guide mates the other day in the middle of a multi day trip with a fella who cant walk far or cast well but expects fish after fish. When he does catch the experience means little to him and he doesn’t like seeing his wife out-fishing him. His own abilities coupled with a negative attitude are making sure that he’s not catching many or having much fun. A situation like this is tough for the angler and the guide. All we want is to see our clients having a great time. If the client has the right attitude then he’ll generally do very well. Understanding a bit about the NZ fishery is a huge help. It’s no walk in the park, its usually windy and as outlined already it’s not a numbers game. Practice casting, short and medium distances. Speed and accuracy is the key. The rivers and lakes can be pretty hard going physically. Of course, if a client is unfit then we can design a trip to suit but the fishing may be compromised. In my opinion, 2 fish is a good day. Four is really good and above that is cream. I try to go for fish bigger than the NZ average most of the time which might help put these figures in perspective.

Recently I had the pleasure of guiding KC and Mark. Both in their early 70’s, they said they were 4/5 US fit and 3/5 NZ fit. They’d been here before! Day one we had an easy day, mainly so that I could get a feel for their approach to fly fishing and their fitness. Straight away I could see that their attitude was great. Really positive with a true understanding about what fly fishing really is. They were also as tough as old boots. This was going to be a fun trip! There were times over the 8 days that fishing was tough. Early in the trip I was feeling the tingle of stress that I can’t help feeling when the fishing is hard. I’d look back at the lads to see smiles, contentment and enjoyment. They were enjoying it, no matter what. That was the end of any stress for me and the fishing went from good to better and better. Even with wading through acres of mud, bush bashing, long hard walks and tricky crossings, I could not knock the smiles off their faces. The trip is documented in the photos below. They could cast very well and they were fit giving them a huge advantage over many, but their biggest attribute was their attitude. Thanks fellas!

Tight lines, Ronan..

Still some availability in March and plenty in April. Visit my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com

Flood Damage!

December 26th, 2018 No comments

The river became fishable for the first time in 2 months. It was a gamble to go there but I took a chance on it because last years floods were bigger and did no damage. The difference with this years floods is that they’ve been so prolonged. At first glance the river looked okay so we walked an hour downstream to fish back. On arrival the river looked different. Straightened, pools and islands gone. I said to Philip that I thought I had made a mistake. Trout are very resilient to flooding but when a river changes course then fish have to be displaced. Where they end up is anyones guess. We saw a fish in the second pool which Philip hooked, raising our spirits. Then nothing. The river was unrecognisable. One of the best pools on the river had been all but destroyed. There was a small section that remained unchanged and in there were 2 or 3 trout which quickly spooked. We saw one other in the beat. We were through the whole section in a few hours and then retreated to plan B. A tributary which I hoped would not have been so badly affected by the floods. We saw a fish at the bridge which we didn’t get. Then not far up we saw another which we did get on a small nymph. There was another beside him so things were looking good but the river was obviously ravaged by floods. Uprooted trees strewn over vast areas of river plain. After a positive start the damage became more and more apparent and we saw no more fish. I was almost ready to pull the pin but thought we’d go another bit. I was looking for a great pool. Very stable so I expected it would still be there. It wasn’t! Blown out totally. We marched on, not keen on giving up just yet as stubbornness kicked in. One great pool that I had forgotten about was unchanged and we sighted 2 fish in it. If Philip hooked one, he was going to spook the other so we had to pick one. Philip got into position for the lead fish. A bow and arrow cast was the only option. Philip had never successfully used that cast before so was keen to make it work. A number of shots went in before the trout saw the worm fly. The take was hard to see for sure but I called the strike and the fish was on. A fish like that can really turn a day around. By then it was around 5pm so we decided it was a good time to call it a day. I was delighted with the result considering the state of the rivers. Three hooked, 2 landed and had a few other good opportunities. We happily walked back to the truck. Of course we had to see if the bridge fish was back out and as luck would have it, he was! Philip got into position and this time nailed the cast first time and got the fish. Three rainbows between 4 and 5 lbs for the day. A great day on any trout river but I won’t be rushing back; it was quite heartbreaking to see some of my favourite water ripped to bits. I’m not sure how long it’ll take those rivers to heal.

On a more positive note, I finally got back to Southland after flooded rivers kept me away for about 2 months. A few tough days just as the rivers cleared but then we had a few days where everything was right. As luck would have it I was fishing myself while guiding on 2 of those days. Very fulfilling fishing with a great fishing partner. He came through Sexyloops so he’d have to be! His SLHT is well and truly broken in.. Thanks, Alan..

Tight Lines All and a Happy New Year!

Ronan..

 

Singapore’s Finest!

December 13th, 2018 No comments

I thought when I was writing my last blog that the weather would change for the better before too long. It didn’t. In fact, it got worse. I have never seen a spring like this and neither have any of my fishing buddies. It’s been thunderstorm after thunderstorm. Many rivers have not had to chance to drop in the last month. Guiding has been hard because of this. The difficulty has not been on the water – that has been surprisingly good and even great! The difficulty has been in the decision making. Watching river flows and looking for windows where a river might drop enough to be fishable before the next rain knocks it out again. Many times I simply avoided the rivers and fished the lakes. Rising rivers, even if they’re clear, often produce poor results as fish “go to ground”.  As reliable as the lakes are, some of them have suffered a bit too. With such huge volumes of muddy water entering some lakes even they have become unfishable, at least in parts. However, no matter what mother nature throws at us there will always be clear water to fish. I just have to find the best, most interesting and enjoyable bits! So far it’s worked out pretty well.

It’s funny how fate takes over some times. I drove out of Omarama and took a left towards the Upper Ahuriri. That’s where we intended to fish. Chuan and Kim were following in their car. Wei Chong was with me. Chuan called me on the phone because he was unsure where we were headed. Wei Chong told him we’d slow right down so he could catch up. I had told him where we were going and he’d been there before so I wasn’t too worried about him loosing his way but something must have gotten lost in translation. We got to the turn off, parked up and got out. We stood by the road and waited – only for about a minute. As they approached we waved our arms in the air to be seen. Neither Kim or Chuan saw us as they passed at a good speed trying to catch us. We got back in the truck and followed. There was no point trying to catch up with them as I expected they’d pull over when they realised they’d gone too far. That they did but not till Tarras about 50ks from the turn of to the river! No phone coverage til that point didn’t help matters. At that stage we’d all been driving for 40 minutes putting us in a different region altogether with different fishing options. I had a quick check of the forecast and it suited a local high country river. Plan A was abandoned and we hit for the the hills!

The river was high with a little colour as I expected it would be. The sighting conditions were good but pool after pool went by without showing us a fish. Finally I spotted one in a very reliable pool. We had 4 rods, each with a different rig. The first shot went to the person with the correct rod in hand. Chuan was up! I adjusted the rig slightly to suit this opportunity exactly. There could be no mistake here. I had a feeling this might be the only chance of the day. I got into position with just my eyes popping over a mound of gold tailings to keep the fish in view. Chuan got into position but could not see the fish from river level. I relayed directions as clearly as I could. After a couple of casts Chuan knew where his fly needed to land. One cast almost spooked the fish but he returned to station, the next was on target and down went the dry. A little chaos ensued with quite a large jumping fish, then it tore off down river. We were on the outside of a long bend with nowhere to land the fish. Before we got too far down the bank into deep water I suggested we jump in the river and cross. “yes, yes lets do it” said Chuan. In we went. My waders took on a little water as we bounced on tippy toes across the river. I almost floated off but we made it across and then easily landed the fish. For me, that was the best fishing moment of all the days we fished. Chuan and I pushed to the limits but we came out on top. We saw no more fish that day which makes a fish like that all the more important. Not often do we come off a river with a 100% success rate! Who knows how the day would have gone if plan A had worked out. Sometimes we just go with the flow…

I wrote this 5 days ago. Since writing there has been an improvement in the weather and many rivers have had a chance to drop, some right back to normal but others will be high and unfishable for ages yet!

The highlights from the past month are in the photos below. Quite a lot of big browns in there!

If you’d like to talk to me about guided fly fishing in the lower South Island you can visit my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com. I still have availability from mid March to late April.

Tight Lines and Happy Christmas if I don’t get a blog out before then!

Ronan..

 

Guiding in Hail, Rain, Gales, Snow and Floods!!

November 14th, 2018 No comments

For the last 3 weeks we’ve had had 4 or 5 serious rain events. For the first few it was still possible to find rivers clear enough to fish. Sight fishing was tough at times but certain rivers are best sight fished on cloudy days. Willow lined rivers for example and there are plenty of those. Any river with steep banks, whether the steepness be cliffs, willows, gorge, beach forrest, cityscape or whatever. The steep bank casts a shadow of sorts across the river to remove the glare which makes sighting difficult. This simple observation influences my choice of river every day I go out and helps me see fish in most conditions. Sometimes though, during times of flood you just have to be happy with fishable water, whether you can sight it or not. I think this separates the trout fishermen from the fair weather fishermen! A true trout fisherman wants to catch trout regardless of conditions. If you can’t see them then blind fish for them, if the rivers are blown then fish lakes, if sighting is impossible on the lakes then blind fish! Not all trout anglers are this dedicated though. Some only fish with dries, some only want to sight fish, some wont fish in the rain. Luckily, all my recent clients were happy to do whatever it takes to catch a trout. These are the anglers I love to guide – the hardcore!

As it turned out the fishing was really great throughout all the floods, snow, rain, gales and a few perfect blue sky days! Sometimes we got a little cold but a hot cup of tea was a great remedy. I had to wear 2 Simms raincoats to stay dry on a number of days (an Irish joke comes to mind). We appreciated the good weather days. Adapting to suit the conditions with good, keen trout anglers meant we came up with the goods.

Here is a short film by Pat! I shot a few clips on my Lumix and he did the rest.. I made the pool a bit more user friendly afterwards.. Thanks, Pat! Click here to see it.

For bookings and info for this season contact me, ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website! Also, if you enjoy what you see and read here then please subscribe!

Tight Lines!

Ronan..

 

River Keeping – Part 2

October 26th, 2018 No comments

In a blog over winter I spoke about river keeping. After that I bought a saw, a cheap one with a 200mm fold up blade. That’s what I’ve been using. I carry it every day I go fishing. Many of the rivers I fish are willow lined and these are the main contenders for having pools made difficult or unfishable from overhanging branches. At this stage this season I have made about 10 impossible pools possible and others more user friendly. It’s actually extremely satisfying – especially if there’s a fish that you can’t cast to at the time, because now you know you can catch him next time. There was one pool where I had to climb about 10 feet up the willow to tackle the offending branches. There were two. My saw and myself were at our limits trying to cut them. I realised then that I needed a bigger saw! My client that day, Tim, said I should get a Silky Big Boy. Yesterday I googled it and found a shop in NZ that sells them. Here is the link. This has a 360mm blade with extra large teeth! I think I can take out some serious trees with this. I’m looking forward to having it in my pack. If we all carried a saw we could keep our rivers under control. This would benefit every angler!

Guiding has been quiet enough so far but from tomorrow on it looks like it will be all go til the end of April. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay on top of my blog. Time will tell. Some nice images from a few trips in the pictures below.

I’ve had a bit of bad luck with my own fishing! With looking after Adaline while Iza is working I can’t fish as much as normal, so days out are more precious now. 4 of these precious days I’ve had to go to plan B. Once, because my chosen river was blown from a flash flood and 3 times from snowmelt. I knew I was taking a chance – a chance I wouldn’t take if I was guiding! However, I thought I’d get away with it. My plan B each time worked out well but still reduced my fishing time to a half day. The fish are in good numbers and in great condition. Between rain and snowmelt the rivers are nice a full with great prospects for November.

For bookings and information you can contact me on ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines,

Ronan..

MY OWN FISHING!

GUIDING GALLERY

Flies for New Zealand – No Secrets!

October 2nd, 2018 No comments

I spent the last 2 days tying like a madman and sorting out my flies for the season. I thought after all my boxes were tidied up that it would be a good chance to share with you all just what goes into a seasons worth of flies for New Zealand. Well, almost a season worth. I still need to tie about 120 varied sizes of my standard dry. I photographed every page of my boxes. Some I carry every day and some only when I think I’ll need them. With the flies from the first few pictures I’d be confident on 95% of days on a NZ river or lake. I’m very lucky to have my father sending me over regular batches of flies. His flies are excellent and are catching fish over here even when he’s not driving them! I also use a lot of Stu’s flies. His flies are well tied and well designed. If you’re coming over and need a full range of flies then he’s your man. Check out his flies here. Manic Tackle Project supply the shops. I use a range of their flies from worms to wee dries. I also tie myself. I generally try to tie 6 before every day on the water.

I’m fishing myself for the next 3 days. After that the fly boxes will be a mess again!

If you haven’t done so already, please check this out and make a submission.

For bookings and information about the coming season please see my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com

Tight Lines, Ronan..

Tight Lines for the New Season!!

September 29th, 2018 No comments

Only a couple of days until many rivers in the vicinity open again. It’s always an exciting time! We never know what were going to get at the start of the season. Have the trout recovered well? What condition will the rivers be in? Did winter floods do any damage? Will snowmelt be an issue? There’s only one way to find out! Unfortunately I wont be able to fish opening day since Iza will be at work so I’m looking after Adaline. A few more months and she’ll be coming with me. I have the 3rd, 4th and 5th to fish myself and I cant wait! I’m not sure what I’ll do yet but in October there are usually fish everywhere so it doesn’t matter!

If you missed my recent report about the current threat to NZ trout and angling, please click here! I urge you to make a submission. It needn’t be long but it’s extremely important that we make our opinions heard. Trout are too important to New Zealand to allow the Department of Conservation to remove them from our rivers and lakes.

Below are some guiding photos from some late season stuff last April and May and through the winter. Mainly guiding photos.

Tight Lines everyone, I hope you all have a great season..

Ronan..

For bookings and information for the coming season please see my website or email me, ronan@sexyloops.com.

Categories: Expedition Tags:

The New Zealand Fishery is Under Threat – But You Can Help!

September 24th, 2018 No comments

I’ll keep this short and to the point. The Indigenous Freshwater Fish Amendment Bill is being passed through parliament. The bill aims to provide better protection for indigenous fish such as galaxids, whitebait, eels, bullies, torrent fish, mudfish and other species. While there is no argument with this protection, those who drafted the bill have taken the opportunity to slip in anti-trout sections which if allowed to become law, pose a serious threat to trout and angling in New Zealand.

Some of the key threats the Bill contains are;

·  It allows the removal of trout and salmon from particular rivers and lakes, even if they are significant trout and salmon fisheries.

·  It does not require DoC to consult with Fish & Game as the statutory managers of trout and salmon.

·  It allows trout to be part of Treaty of Waitangi settlements with iwi.

·  The possibility of the sale of trout is also opened up under the bill.

It is vital that anglers, both local and from abroad, make their feelings known about the proposals to stop them becoming law.

The bill is now being considered by a select committee which is asking for public submissions. You can make your submission here. You have until October 25th. I also urge you to get in touch with the powers that be. Below is a list of email address. Please have your say! Here is a link to the Fish & Game website where you’ll find a lot more information on the topic. 

Labour  – Jacinda Ardern j.ardern@ministers.govt.nz

New Zealand First – Winston Peters w.peters@ministers.govt.nz

Greens – James Shaw j.shaw@ministers.govt.nz

Marama Davidson Marama.Davidson@parliament.govt.nz

National Party – Simon Bridges simon.bridges@parliament.govt.nz

ACT – David Seymour david.seymour@parliament.govt.nz

Thanks for your help in this vitally important matter.

Tight Lines, Ronan..

For bookings and information on the coming season please visit my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com

Releasing a 6lb backcountry brown. NZ fly fishing could be in jeopardy if the bill gets passed into law. Please have your say!

Categories: Expedition Tags:

August! From the Lakes to the Coast…

September 2nd, 2018 No comments

August has been superb! Not long after arriving back in NZ from Ireland, I joined Robbie, Tom and Jeremy for a couple of days on Lake Benmore. I went and got the Wakatipu Anglers Club boat to give us some options around the lake. After the couple of days with the lads I held on to the boat since nobody was using it. It has been fantastic! Pretty much all the lakes are fishing well, some very well! Catching up with friends has been as good as the fishing. The weather has been very settled, warm and sunny with very little wind. Ideal fishing conditions, although at times a little more wind would have been an advantage to make the boat drift.

There are a few rivers open in this area, but August around here is best on the lakes. Brown trout are well and truly finished spawning and are back in the lakes trying to regain condition. They also haven’t seen an angler for a while so this combination makes them very keen to eat a fly – any fly! Fish on Lake Dunstan have been happy to eat small streamers even in the flat calm on 3x. A few more weeks and this simply wont work unless the wind is blowing. It’s fun out there. I’ve fished it 3 days from the boat averaging 8 per day. Benmore was a little slower but it will be improving daily as fish continue to drop back to the lake. Hawea didn’t really fish for Guy and I. It certainly did 6 years ago but such is fishing.. I’d been dying to get back there ever since 4 super weekends in a row in August 2012. Everything was the same; lake level, wind, conditions,  just no fish! This is how it was – Hawea 2012

The West Coast has eluded me since Jeff, Nick and myself filmed our episode for the second series of Pure Fly New Zealand. Mark and I went over for a couple of days recently. The main thing I wanted to do was the river mouths. The last week in August is when you have the most amount of whitebait running with the least amount whitebaiters chasing them! Therefor you have the place to yourself. I have hit some excellent fishing during this week in the past, but it was very quiet for us. The tides worked out well. On day 1 we arrived there in the morning an hour before high tide and fished for 2 hours. I got one small fish. The top and bottom of the tide are usually the best so we left the river mouth and fished the lower reaches of a river for a few hours. On the coast many rivers are open year round from the main highway bridge to the sea. This was good! I met 5 and landed one well conditioned, buttery brown. Then back to a different river mouth for low tide. I got 1 and touched a few more. The river mouths are a pretty gruelling fishery. They require dogged persistence and confidence.

Day 2 we took on a lake. It started slow but the fishing just got better and better. Boat and bank. Sight fishing to cruisers and blind stripping buggers on intermediates got the fish. Shitloads of them!

I’m not sure what fishing is on the cards next! September is here and I’ll be making the most of it. The lakes will only get better…

Tight Lines All!!

Ronan..

For bookings and information on guided fly fishing for the coming season, contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website Ronan’s Fly Fishing Missions

A Heatwave in Ireland & Becoming “MR STEEL TESTICLES”, 2018.

August 8th, 2018 No comments

When Iza and I arrived in Dublin we were surprised to walk into a wall of heat getting off the plane. I thought we got off at the wrong country! We boarded a westbound bus and watched the temperature rise to 30 celsius by the time we made Galway. It turned out we landed right in the middle of a heatwave! The weather continued for weeks. I had a few days after trout and salmon but the lakes were like bathwater and the fishing was useless. Generally, when weather doesn’t suit one species, it suits another. Even this theory was pushed a little off centre. I heard the pike fishing was poor during the heatwave. The extreme temperatures, which were unprecedented in Ireland, don’t do shallow water fishing any good. No surprise there. When the water cooled down a little, the pike fishing was okay but the trout needed further coaxing – rain and cool weather was desperately needed! Even the inshore pollack fishing suffered. I have never felt Roundstone’s beaches so warm. The heat was great for swimming, snorkelling and the like but not for fishing. The one species I didn’t chase that maybe I should have was mullet. Their numbers are on the rise again after declining for a while. In the latter end of the trip I got wise to a few great spots to chase them but I didn’t make it happen for one reason or another. I’m probably better off! Mullet around Connemara are, in my experience at least, virtually impossible to catch.

During my last few days in Roundstone the rain came with a vengeance! Dad and I took on Lough Inagh and a river beat for the rain day expecting / hoping salmon would run. I’m sure they did but we didn’t intercept any. The Inagh, Ballynahinch system rose as fast as I’ve experienced. Usually the first hour of a rising river is good but we missed that (it was at about 4am!). After an hour or so on the river we went to Inagh. It didn’t fire either, though I think I rose one grilse before it got too dirty to fish anymore in the afternoon. The lake rose at a rate of about 1 foot per hour. As Kylemore and Inagh settled in the past few days the fishing has improved.

One thing I have learned over the 6 weeks at home – I prefer Irish weather to be Irish! Wind, rain, an odd good day, cloud and cool. With global warming upon us, this type of heat is probably going to become more common in Ireland. Look out Spain!

And now for something completely different. Petanque! Myself and Justin have being playing our own version of the game for a while. Justin decided to run a competition. The plan was to gather the old crew together, get on the beer and play Petanque to the proper rules. We had a couple of ideas for the trophies so I spent a couple of hours in the workshop knocking them out! Last place, “The Hand of Ineptitude”, Second last “The Kick in the Arse”, “aka Christy” because there was a left foot on the trophy. Funnily enough, Daniel Day Lewis was in town. What are the odds? I should have asked him to present it! Second place, “Just Out of Reach” (hence the back scratcher!) and First place, “MR STEEL TESTICLES”. Of the 6 lads in the competition (James, Justin, Nigel, Niall, Tom and Myself) I knew I’d be well down the rankings, probably last. By some miracle I came back against James from 8 – 2 down to win 10 – 9 in my first game. That was the beginning of my lucky streak. Somehow I gained the title of MR STEEL TESTICLES, 2018 in a tie breaker against Justin. All the trophies will become perpetual with names engraved for the future of the cup! Who wouldn’t want one of these on their mantlepiece for a whole year?? The craic was mighty and half of us pushed through til dawn.. I need to get a set of balls to practice for next year!

The 6 weeks in Ireland was more family and friends oriented than ever. Adaline enjoyed her first trip to Roundstone and met her first cousin, Casey. It was a pleasure to see them together. Paddling pools, a christening, a 40th, trips to the beach, dinners at home, Kila in Galway, a few carpentry projects to make life a bit easier for the recipients, Guinness, seafood the likes of which is simply not available in NZ (thanks to Vaughans and O Dowd’s), snorkelling, swimming, an odd pint, the list goes on. Home is home!! So much to do we rarely ventured far from Roundstone. Family and friends, Thanks you all.. and a special thanks to those who travelled to see us!

Back in NZ now, Next season is 2/3 full but still plenty spots available. If you’d like to lock in a trip, please get in touch, ronan@sexyloops.com or see my website www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com

Tight Lines,

Ronan..