Archive

Archive for May, 2018

Fly Fishing Near Chicago..

May 30th, 2018 No comments

On a short trip to Chicago with Iza last year to see my Aunty Ita I managed to squeeze in a fishing day. One thing that excites me about fly fishing in a place I know nothing about is figuring it out. The first thing was to find a location. I wanted something near the city to see if decent urban fishing existed. There were quite a few lakes in the vicinity of the city and all held fish. The surrounds of these lakes were built up housing estates. After some research I chose Busse Woods Lake. It’s quite big, made up of a number of interconnected smaller lakes with good scope for casting a fly without hooking a pedestrian. Target species? Whatever eats the fly! I tried a number parts of the lake before deciding on a location to focus on. After a short walk along the shore there was nobody around. The people congregated close to car parks or formed tracks but once I got onto a wild lake edge the people / anglers were only visible in boats. I walked the shore, blind casting looking for structure or anything fishy. I picked up a little bluegill and a couple of small bass as I hunted the margins. Then I spotted a decent swirl. I put on a silicon smelt and sent in a number of casts in the vicinity of the movement. I had a take but no hook up, then a follow, another follow; all from the same fish I’m pretty sure. Finally a solid hook up and I landed a healthy largemouth bass, about a pound in weight. I continued my mission around the lake which was mostly very quiet but I picked up another wee bass and a crappie big enough to fight back. As the sun started to set I was about walk back along the shore but I heard some voices, I pushed on a little and met an old man and his dog. We chatted for ages about life in general, only occasionally mentioning fishing! He put me wise to a much easier way to walk back to the car. All up, a very successful day in my book!

For bookings and information about the 2018-19 NZ season, contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website http://www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com

Tight Lines,

Ronan..

 

Seize the Carp!

May 22nd, 2018 No comments

Travelling to fly fishing destinations is not usually cheap, but there are some affordable options around the world. Portugal is one. Target species is carp! Initially I thought about hiring a guide but with a little research I found some decent info and decided to wing it. As luck would have it, my old mate Tonio was in the country and keen to meet for a fish. He also had quite a lot of experience with Portuguese carp so the stars really aligned for me. My research had pointed me towards Lake Alqueva and I also got wind of some small lakes near Evora. This was the area Tonio knew so Iza and I booked our accommodation in Evora and then on the Monsaraz beside Lake Alqueva. Fly fishing really does bring you to some super places. Evora was a nice little town but Monsaraz was something out of a fairytale! A quaint, rustic, romantic little walled village full of character and history. The perfect place to bring your other half. No need to mention the lake full of carp which occupies much of its magnificent vista. I met Tonio the evening before our 3 fishing days began. We drank a few beers and chatted about old times. Roll on the next three days!

Day 1 and 2 were good. At times the carp were few and far between and we walked kilometres of shoreline in search of them. My flip-flops on day one were a very bad choice of footwear with lots of walking on uneven ground and mud! I don’t know what I was thinking!! When we did find carp they were not easy. As I had learned in the Azores, travelling fish were hard to entice but a fish with his head down and tail up – actively feeding fish were catchable. I was armed with my 6 wt Hot Toroedo and a Harfin reel. 3x tippet seemed to be the right choice for the carp we were encountering. We were using small buggers to begin with but I experimented with other flies, even catching one on a buzzer! One fly really seemed to have some magic though. It was a simple size 12, unweighted nymph with a claret body of possum fur and a red game tail. Once I put this fly on I really started catching. I gave a couple to Tonio and he also did well on it. We fished 3 different lakes landing about 16 carp over days 1 and 2 with the best fish around 5lbs. Good fun and challenging but where are the big fish?? We did see one 8lb plus fish come to think of it, but it was a fleeting opportunity.

Day 3. One of Western Europes largest dams, Lake Alqueva. Tonio had little info on this huge lake so we just picked a random spot near the bridge looking back up towards Monsaraz on the hill. We covered a few ks of shoreline only seeing about 6 fish. we didn’t land any but to our delight they were a lot bigger. Three times the size of what we were seeing on days 1 and 2. We decided to pull out and go somewhere else in the hope of finding better numbers. Tonio had an idea to drive quite a long way, then we followed our noses down some dirt tracks back to the lake. On arrival we knew we in better water. Lots of points, bays, drop-offs and weed beds. The banks were firm and gravelly and not muddy like a lot of previous water. We had lunch in the shade of a cork tree before hitting the water. I couldn’t help but think that maybe the handle of my fly rod originated right here! I went right and Tonio went left. We had walkie talkies to stay in touch. Tonio was just out of sight when he came through on the radio. “I’m in” he said, “and it’s big!” I replied “I’m in too, and it’s big”. The claret nymph once again. My first fish was also my biggest. I’d say 12 – 13lbs. After seeing the larger fish earlier in the day I upped the tippet from 8lb to 14lb. I was very glad I did. The moment these fish feel the hook they go ballistic! They’re incredibly fast, powerful fish and they run! I was delighted with my fish. Tonio was too. We knew the lake had a reputation for fewer but bigger fish so we were hoping to land one each. That was not to be however! Around the next corner there was another one, mooching around in a dense weed bed. I cast the nymph about a foot in front of the fish and let it settle, one twitch as it got to depth and I saw the carp move in slowly, then a quick motion of its mouth and I struck instantly. Chaos! This fish was as good as the first if not better. He went straight out into the lake against tight drag almost to my backing. Then I made a mistake! I told Tonio over the radio that I was in again and inadvertently eased up on the fish as I fumbled with the radio. He got into the weeds and broke me. Lesson learned! The next fish I landed. I ended up hooking 8 and landing 5 for the day, all between 8 and 13lbs. All sight fishing. I know Tonio also had a great day landing a number of fish. A well timed strike seemed to be the key to success. The place is spectacular too. Wide open, wild space dotted with cork trees. I’m not sure what the best time of year to go is but I was there last September.

For anyone living in Europe this fishery is very accessible with regular, inexpensive flights to Lisbon. We saw some great deals from Boston too. There is a fly fishing guide operating out of Evora. He can pick you up at the airport and take you to his base. He has a package deal with accommodation, food and transport included and it’s reasonably priced. You can contact Jose Rodrigues through his website – http://www.carponflyadventures.com. The other option is to go it alone! I was lucky enough to have Tonio to show me a few lakes near Evora. With respect for local anglers, I won’t name these lakes but just look on a map. My guess is that all the lakes have carp (but maybe I’m wrong!). A simple plan if you were to go unguided would be to base yourself in Monsaraz (or anywhere near the lake) and fish Alqueva every day. The lake is vast (250KM2, 1200km of shoreline) with a multitude of different types of lakeshore. The fish are big. Walk, stalk, you’ll find fish! I can’t recommend it highly enough. There are black bass there too!

On a final note, it was really great to hang out and fish with Tonio again. It’s been a long time! We fished almost an entire season together in NZ about 10 years ago. I met Tonio and Paul for the first time a few years before that. They were filming “The Instructor” which I happily got involved in. That was the beginning of my involvement with the madness that is Sexyloops and the beginning of my friendships with both Tonio and Paul. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since! We had a superb 3 days fishing! I hope it’s not 10 years til we do it again.. Many thanks, Tonio!

Tight Lines,

Ronan..

If you’re thinking about a trip to NZ next season and you’d like my guidance, please drop me a line. Well over half of next season is booked up already. Contact me on www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com or email me ronan@sexyloops.com

 

 

Take a Kid Fishing!

May 12th, 2018 No comments

I’m at home looking after Adaline today as Iza is back to work. With the baby having a nap I found myself with a little free time. A day fishing I had at home last summer sprang to mind so I decided to find the photos and tell that story..

A good friend of mine has 2 sons who are mad keen fishermen! They’ve been following some of my exploits here in NZ and I had promised to take them fishing. Last July I took them out. Oisin had his own fly rod and had used it a few times, while Sam had not cast before. Sami was 7, Oisin 10. We set out. I had decided to take them to Ballinlough in Co. Mayo because it’s a stocked lake and the trout are usually pretty willing to take a fly and a lot bigger than mountain lake trout. We were on the water at about 11. After a few casting lessons we got down to business. I kept the boat in areas of the very shallow lake where I knew trout lived. They were not easy! I had quite a few casts myself to no avail. Oisin was fishing very well, keeping the fly where it needed to be. Sami was bouncing around the boat full of questions and enthusiasm, occasionally taking the rod for a few casts. Eamonn was fishing hard. The hours flew by with no fish to the net. Then a few fish started to move to adult damsels. Eamonn quickly hooked one of these but it broke off when the line jammed in the reel. Possibly the biggest fish in the lake. He moved another one or 2, then things went quiet again. With an hour left I decided to change tactics to try to get the boys a fish. I suggested that we troll flies for a while. To Oisin’s credit he wanted to keep casting! I explained that he needed to keep the flies in front of him and not let them drift under the boat! With renewed vigour he upped his game. I put on a damsel nymph under a dry and explained to him how to fish it. Within half an hour his dry went under and he lifted the rod. I didn’t need to tell him anything. He made the cast, saw the take, struck the fish and played it all the way to the net. This one trout meant so much to these boys, and to Eamonn and myself. To see the utter joy on their faces. No envy from Sami, just happiness for his brother and for being there. It was a truly ecstatic moment for everyone in the boat and ranks right up there with any of my fishing highs. I was a little relieved too.. these boys think I know what I’m doing!! Whenever I’m home next we’ll do it again. Hopefully the fish will be a bit more cooperative! Keep fishing, Oisin and Sami (and Eamonn)!!!

Tight Lines,

Ronan..

For guiding bookings and information in NZ contact me on ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website http://www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com

River Keeping!

May 10th, 2018 No comments

River keeping is something I’ve been thinking about lately. How many times have you fished a pool and though “if only that branch wasn’t there I’d be able to cast to that fish!” Well, I often though that. In recent years I’ve made some effort to remove offending branches and its paid off. I want to take it to the next level though. As of now I’m going to carry a saw instead of the little saw blade on my Victorinox knife. As a guide I’m always searching out new water. Occasionally I find something great that receives little or no attention so a little river keeping goes a long way here. There are a few small streams I know of which have become totally choked with willows over the years. Many beautiful pools have become totally unfishable but it doesn’t need to be that way. Lets say you fish that stream 3 times a season, and each time you fish it you bring your saw and spend half an hour making a pool or a run fly friendly, think how quickly it would become totally open again! Better again if some of your friends do the same! Or, you could just go nuts and round up a posse and spend a day clearing it! Fuck it, bring a chainsaw! Have a think about it. I’m sure a river or a pool on a river will spring to mind. Its something you could do over the off season, just take care that you’re not walking on redds. Time to buy an aggressive saw that will fit in your pack! A machete too, maybe..

With some semi-planned down time around mid March to mid April I got quite a lot of fishing in! Some of the family were over so dad and I fished every day we could (which was most!) This trip was a little different to other trips for dad. Mom and my sister were also here to meet our daughter, Adaline, so it was family time. All the fishing we did was in day trip distance from home. Every evening we relaxed, ate great food, drank some nice wine and just enjoyed being together. I can’t wait til we can do it all again! We fished all sorts of water. Big lakes, dams, tiny streams to big rivers. With regular, heavy rainfall it wasn’t easy to find clear rivers but with local experience and a little luck we were able to find rivers and streams clear enough to fish. Dad had always wanted some dry fly action on a tiny stream. We had one super day which was just that. It’s quite hard to find consistent dry fly water but this wee stream seems to be one. Great fishing!

Robbie and I also had a super couple of days chasing rainbows and browns in his neck of the woods. Better than expected with blistering bows and one very large brown! The worm fly was deadly – either because of the regular high water washing real worms down the river or because it just looks like too much food to pass up. Both are true. It did make me think though after I picked a 4″ dead earthworm out of the river. “These worm flies are way too small!!!” I think I’ll tie some huge worm flies! They have to work..

One of the most interesting things I’ve witnessed this season was on one of the local, high country reservoirs. Dad, Tom and myself went up for a day with no expectations because it rarely gives up its fish easily. The day began as per usual trying to figure out how to catch this elusive quarry. Dad and I saw a fish or two moving and I lost one not long after starting on a bugger. Tom was moving down the shore and we followed. Tom was seeing some and getting one or 2. When we got to the shallow end of the bay things changed. We could see good numbers of trout bow waving in glary, flat calm, shallow water. They were clearly chasing something. Tom was in the right place landed 4 more on a bugger. I landed one and lost a couple. By the time dad arrived it was all over. We kept a trout for dinner and it was stuffed with 1 inch, grey fry. The edges of the lake were alive with them. I never noticed them there before so maybe it has something to do with all the recent rain? I hoped it was going to be a regular, late season event. The lake is know for it’s cicada fishing but nothing else really so it would be really cool to lock in seasonal event and learn it. Dad and I went back up for his last fishing day of the trip. We were expecting great things but absolutely nothing happened. The fry were there, the wind was exactly the same, all conditions the same just no fish at all – only 4 days later!

Jeff, Kota and myself had a magic day exploring a couple of small mountain streams. With snow on the ground and high altitude views it was a magic day to be alive, fish or no fish!

May is when many fish start their migratory run up river to spawn. These running fish can provide some of the most exciting fishing of the season – for me anyway. I think it might be my favourite time of year! Locally, its very hit and miss but I’ve learned many hot spots over the last few years. Fluctuating flows means that the learning never stops but there are consistencies in pretty much all river flows. The larger fish tend to run first! I’ll be getting amongst it as often as possible.

Thats all for now. I have some good guiding stuff coming up from a couple of multi-day late season trips. One with Chuan – always eventful!

Plenty spaces available in May and over winter. There’s still lots of great fishing to be had even though the season is closed on most brown trout rivers! Contact me on ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website http://www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com

Tight Lines,

Ronan..

ps, here’s my latest film on Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/267765023