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The tide that almost took my truck… Twice!

October 23rd, 2013 No comments

Jeff and I hit for the coast early on Saturday morning. There had been a deluge of rain on the coast for a few days so there were no guarantees the rivers or their mouths would be fishable. The weekend forecast was good so we decided to chance it. As expected, the rivers were high and coloured but some were fishable. There were so many whitebaiters about that the coastal fishing looked like it would be pretty annoying with us tripping over them and vice-versa. They have always been very friendly with me and never put out the notion that they own the place so, with respect, we left them to the river mouths and we chose a river.

It was a big, intimidating river; still bulging after the rain but dropping and clearing. There is only one thing to do when faced with such a river and that’s take it on. Don’t waste much time talking about it, just do it.

We took it on with 2 set-ups. Jeff with a streamer, me with a dry-double nymph rig. Before long we spotted one which we did not get. It’s always good just to see a fish in a high, unfamiliar river. It boosts confidence. Not long after I spotted one in tough light, I only just saw the sweep of a tail. I got that fish. Jeff got one in the next pool on a streamer so we were both off the mark. The rest of the day went well. We had a few more fish on all methods, blind and sighted. When we got to a very tough gorge we decided to get out since we simply didn’t know what lay ahead and it was late in the day. We had an hour or 2 on the coast before nightfall after most of the whitebaiters had had enough. Jeff got one bright fish.

One of the my favourite things about the coast is camping with the roar of the ocean and having a raging fire from the abundant driftwood. We drove out to Haast Spit which is just such a location. I have camped here a few times without incident and I expected this time to be the same. On the way to the spot I knew, the track suddenly disappeared. I tried to feel my way around all the debris on the sand but then sank into it! “Bollocks” I said. The sand was grey, damp and in the tidal zone. With the tide rising there was no time waste. With Jeff pushing, and some tactical driving (at least I like to think so!) we got out relatively easily but we were lucky.. It could have been a disaster. A foot to the left and I think we’d have been air-locked into the sand. After that bit of excitement we made it to the camp spot. The sea was roaring and then a full moon broke from the clouds.. I had a moment where I though we should leave. With a spring tide approaching (which I did not notice when I checked the tide times) and the strong on shore wind, something didn’t feel right. I’ve learned something about myself over the years. The reason I take an odd risk is to see if I’ll get caught, and if I do, what will the consequences be?.. this is sort of in my subconscious and I’ve only recently learned it. It’s like something else takes control, giggling as it does so. I put my hesitation aside as I got the fire going and Jeff pitched his tent.

The rain came in hard and the wind blew, but the fire was hot and the beer was cold so we were happy. We were relaxed, chatting about the day and life in general when a wave broke a little close for comfort.. I shone the lights of the car which was facing out to sea. “Fuck” I said. The tide was close and the waves were big and messy. By my reckoning the tide was still an hour from full. Should we flee now? No, We’ll wait a while anyway (giggling inside). I got up to photograph a wave which skirted our camp but instead I ran and jumped onto the spare wheel on the back of the truck as a wave crashed through our camp. It hit the truck, the tent and almost put the fire out. Okay, now I was worried, we were worried. Looking behind us the tide was on the other side of the spit. we were almost surrounded by water. There was probably a route out through the driftwood but we decided to stay. We were on a relatively high point. We’d see it out. Many more waves crashed near camp. We sat on the bonnet facing the sea and watched on high alert, and waited. “I think were out of the woods now”  was said many times but the truth was that we weren’t. The tide was high and very close to camp for hours. It seemed like forever. We weren’t out of the woods. Another wave went through the camp about an hour after the first and another after that. If we were parked farther down the beach things would have been worse.. I might have had to try to get out. Our saving grace was the fact that I knew roughly when high tide was, but it all could not have been any closer! We were lucky too..

Finally the tide receded, the rain stopped and  the wind died. We polished of the box of beer, high on adrenaline and life with a cranking fire and a bright moon..

Day 2 on the river was much like day 1.

Ronan..

Badger with the bow and arrow cast & Craig the glisteriser!

October 7th, 2013 2 comments

There is a phrase skiers use after a really tough day skiing, They say, “we left it all on the mountain”.  That’s how Craig, Badger and I felt after our day on the river on Saturday. We left it all on the river.

We started early but were beaten to our desired spot by a spin fisherman and a fly-fisherman. I spoke to them and they didn’t really know what their intentions were. When I said I’d like to walk down and fish back up, they then decided that that was their plan too. Annoying, but they were there first and I’ll always respect the rights of the first angler to the river.

We went up river into some tough terrain and covered enough water for a full day fishing in half a day. The reason for this was the lack of fish. There were few opportunities to stop and fish so we just walked, climbed and searched.. At lunch time we assessed the situation. Do we continue up, or get out and try another place on a very crowded river? The going was tough, Badger had fallen in 3 times and his boots were breaking up and there were dam all fish. We decided to get out and take our chances elsewhere.

Farther down river there were vehicles at all the accesses. We picked one with only one car at it as we could see 2 anglers downstream so we thought we were in luck. We fished up. I saw, hooked and landed a fish straight away. Then I crossed and got another. Could we be so lucky as to be first here on the opening weekend at 1pm? It seemed so.. but then we spied 3 anglers walking down! We went and had a chat. They had been through this section already and their day was cut short by 2 anglers walking down from an access farther up. There were people everywhere! We continued up since fish were clearly out on the feed again and picked up 2 more. We went pretty hard in our afternoon session and had another big walk out.. We were all shattered at the end of the day. We sort of packed 2 days into one so it was not surprising.

The plan was to stay and camp but Badgers boots fell to bits so we went back to Cromwell. I had a spare pair that had only seen 6 seasons. Honestly, with fatigue and the number of people about I was happy to get out of it. I have a feeling Badger and Craig were too.

Day 2 we took on medium sized river with lots of runs and riffles. There were very few fish about which was surprising because it is usually a good early season bet. I picked up one fish that rose in front of me. After that we got out and tried a small creek. Not many fish as expected but we all got a difficult shot or 2 each. The highlight of the weekend was Badger taking on a fish under trees with no room for a back or roll cast. After manoeuvring himself lowly and slowly as close as possible to the fish he took aim with a bow and arrow cast and fired. The fish confidently ate his dry, the strike was well timed.. but the fish came off just as badger was about to horse it out of the roots!

Apart from picking up a cold on Friday night which has been getting progressively worse, It was a great weekend. We all got to know each other a little better and we will fish together more often I hope. The craic was good and there wasn’t a squidgy in sight!

Ronan..

Let battle continue…

October 1st, 2013 4 comments

My West Coast plans were dashed last Saturday morning when I got to lake Hawea and saw a “Haast Pass Closed” sign… I should have checked first I suppose, but I heard during the week that it was open so I didn’t question it. It really knocked the wind out if my sails. Where to go instead? I tried the makerora mouth but struggled to cross a shitswamp. My heart was simply not in it and this was enough to deter me. I looked at The Neck on Lake Hawea on the way back but I was not in the form for blind buggering. Sight fishing was out of the question with the conditions. I hit the Clutha Channel where it enters Dunstan on the way home. I gave in maybe 40 minutes and I’d had enough. It’s funny, I had my heart set on the coast and nothing else would do.

On Sunday I had a productive day sorting out my tying kit and tying a few flies for the rivers, many of which are open again today. Today being opening day is a big deal for the many who put the rods away for the winter. For me, and a few others around here like me, the season just continues. I didn’t miss a weekend on the water all winter! Maybe one come to think of it..

Have a great 2014 season everyone.. I plan to go harder than last year.

Ronan..

I’m back… I think…

September 27th, 2013 4 comments

Long time no report! My laptop was out of action for a while, then I lost my writing momentum and I had some other stuff.. It’s not always easy to keep this going! Lot’s has happened since so I’ll just skim over it… Actually I wont, the photo’s below the text will!

Daltona’s 1978 Johnson outboard would not start the last time I tried. After work today I drove to Queenstown to pick her up.. I had it parked up at Chris Dore’s place. She’s home now and I’ll fix it soon. My guess is something simple like spark plugs.

I want to talk about a few things but It’s just not happening. One of those things is the differences and similarities between sight fishing a lake edge and sight fishing a river. I’ll bring it up another time.

West coast tomorrow morning. I’ll leave here at 6am and get there a few hours before low tide. Weather is promised to be a mixed bag. Fairly light winds, huge swells (over 7m), sun, rain, clouds, all sorts! I’ll go and give it hell.. hopefully It will be fishable…

Next week I’ll get my writing momentum back…

Tight lines all!

Ronan..

 

10 Trout, 10 Kahawai and a Stargazer.. South Westland!

September 6th, 2013 2 comments

I could not resist the urge to go back to the coast for another mission. After an epic, full on Saturday catching 3 species I set up camp on a wild South Westland beach. Just myself, the sound of crashing waves, a roaring fire and a few beers under the stars. No better way to spend an evening! A whitebaiter woke me in the morning. He opened the truck to see if I was inside because he was worried by the sight of my vacant camp chair and smouldering fire. “I though you might have been washed out to sea” he said! We chatted for a bit, me still stretched in the back of my truck, and him leaning in the door. The whitebait season had opened an hour before at 6am. Shortly after our chat I got up and took on the day. Waking up exactly where you want to fish is always sort of magical for a fisherman.

The tide was going  out in the morning and fished pretty well but I was banking on the flowing tide to produce the best results like it did the day before. I had planned on taking a sea-trout and a kahawai home but it was not to be! Nothing happened after the tide turned so I went home empty handed! I’m curious to see what these sea / estuarine  trout are like to eat. The 2 days were completely different. I would have put money on the Kahawai coming back on the flowing tide but they didn’t. There are no guarantees in fly-fishing.

The fishing and whole wild experience was great as always! It fired at different times each day making it hard to nail down. Watching the place come alive with Kahawai was pretty cool. They were the biggest I’ve encountered. 10 trout, 10 kahawai and a stargazer (what a cool little fish he was!) in total. All the kahawai bar one were 5lb plus. My best brown was about 5lbs too. I didn’t get many trout pics because I caught most of them in the surf. No place to set up the camera and timer and I didn’t want to take the fish too far from the water.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow!

Ronan..

 

Dries, Wets, Spiders, Buggers & Buzzers!.. with the Canterbury Fly-Fishing Club…

August 27th, 2013 No comments

I met John Roche at the Otamatata pub on Friday evening last. He asked me along to his club gathering at the Central Lakes so I happily obliged. We drank a few pints of what is probably the best Guinness in NZ with two of his fishing buddies, Martin (England) and Dave (scotland) and discussed fishing. The craic was great in the pub but with an early start on the cards I decided to head to our lodgings with the lads before it got too late. The following night was different but that’s another story…

After John dropped 2 groups of anglers off at different locations around the lake we were away!  My initial thoughts were towards sinking lines so I set up the clear intermediate and the Di5 with buggers. We went to an area we both knew well and fish were rising. We persisted for a while but the sinking line tactics were simply not working so it was time for a change. I went to a single dry and had a decent fish almost straight away, John used a buzzer suspended under a dry. This accounted for a small fish (and a good one for me as described in the photo below!!). There were quite a lot of fish rising but they were quite boat shy, or more likely, casting shy. A good method from a boat when fish are rising in calm water is to limit casting until a fish is well in range. Blind casting needs to be a controlled, conscious effort with as little false casting as possible. Cast where you think fish are. Try to read the rise forms to pick up on the direction the fish is moving and at what speed (roughly!) Flailing about will keep fish perfectly out of range.

Next to a couple of unweighted spiders. These worked well for me fished slowly so John tried the same tactic. It was new to him. It’s important to catch a fish quickly on a new tactic to instil the confidence necessary to fish it properly. John had a quick fish on the spiders and then a few more giving him a new approach to fishing calm water.

In the afternoon things sowed down as sun heated things up. I fished from the boat with Martin after lunch and we had a few on buggers over the weed beds (which got wiped out the next morning by Meridians weed killer drop). We got off the water at about 5.30.

Day 2. I fished alone from the bank. I was sight fishing with a lightly weighted spider. The folks from the club tried some new water but I worked on the same lake. I put in big walk to get to the other side but it was no good so I walked back. The best sight fishing was near where I parked but they were tough (apart from one I lost twice before hooking and landing the 3rd time!!). As I was fishing the shore down I was aware of lots of terns feeding all the time a few hundred metres back up the shore. There were no fish rising amongst them but with all the fly coming off, keeping so many birds feeding all day, there had to be fish under the surface. I put on a team of buzzers and got as close to the birds as I could. I had an hour of some of the best buzzer fishing I ever had. It was non stop action with perfectly mended fish. Immaculate actually, so I took a few to eat. One observation I made, and not for the first time, is that cruising fish are often in worse condition than fish taken blind from deeper water. Cruisers are often lethargic and opportunist whereas a fish from deeper water tends to energetic and well conditioned from always competing for an abundance of food. A weak fish would be chased out, hence the cruiser.

If I was quicker to crack the fact that buzzers were the key, it’ not known how many fish I’d have had, but it’s hard not to sight fish when it’s there for the taking. That’s the thing I love about fly-fishing though. Every mission is a learning curve. I watch, I adapt.

On another note, Meridian Energy dropped the level of  Lake Benmore to the limit to spray weed killer on the lake weed. I assumed that they dropped the lake so that they could spray the exposed weed and keep the majority of the substance out of the water, other wise why drop the lake at all?. I noticed no weed on the exposed sand and mud, dead or alive. Some was evident in the lake. On Sunday morning a chopper flew over the lake and dumped a full load of weed killer straight into the water about half way across. There was no dumping on Saturday even though choppers were passing regularly, probably because there were a number of crafts on the water. That was it, one dump in one small part of the lake. This made me think! Was this the only dump? If so, Why? How much weed could be killed with one very localised dump? Is it even worth the effort? Or is it so potent that that’s enough? If so what else suffers?  Of course, there may have been other times when the weed killer was applied to other areas. I’m not digging for any conspiracy theories! I’m just relaying what I saw and thought… Although, with a $300,000,000 profit last year, I guess they can do what they want!

This weekend? Who knows..

Pete! Get well soon mate.. You’ll be reading about yourself very soon!

Ronan..

Ps, If you’re new to this and you enjoy it, please subscribe at the top right of this page!

This week on SLTV, Ep 15.  Northern Territory Salt 1. Paul and I head to the Northern Territory to fish with fly-fishing legend, Graeme Williams. We catch lots of species including queenfish up to 87cms. Plenty crocs and kangaroos too!  http://www.insightflyfishing.com.au/

Where the Rivers Meet the Sea – South Westland, New Zealand.

August 20th, 2013 No comments

Much to my regret, it’s been a few years since I’ve been to the west coast. I lived there for a while about 9 years ago and I have an unexplainable kinship with the place. It does something for my soul that I struggle to put into words. I feel totally grounded there, calm, sort of connected. After spending a couple of days there I feel better, happier, rejuvenated.

Day one. Paul and I travelled together in convoy. Paul brought a couple of Kayaks, one of which came off the trailer en-route! Those moulded plastic Kayaks are very tough. The road was no match for it. The Kayaks were a great advantage for getting to gravel bars and across lagoons and just general access.

The fishing was challenging. It was new to me so I was feeling my way bit, trying to read the water and get a feel for a good approach. Before too long I got a nice 3.5lber on one of Paul’s magnificent streamers. With the falling tide a drop-off came into casting range and that’s where the fish took. I expected more in the same spot but apart from a couple of touches, nothing. We each had a few more hits as the morning progressed but nothing hectic. After that quiet spell I hooked a big fish on low tide. I was using my Di7 to get deep. When I hooked the fish I was experimenting with a rapid, jerky retrieve. After beaching the trout I noticed something hanging out of the rear end, I pulled it out to find a good size green crab! I never heard of trout eating crabs but why wouldn’t they? I’d be more surprised to learn that they don’t eat crabs! With the rising tide, the already slow fishing pretty much stopped. Don’t get me wrong though, slow fishing does not mean bad fishing. I had great day with better company in one of my favourite places on earth.

Day two. Jo Meder joined me in the morning and we hit for the same spot as Paul and I fished the day before. I was keen to learn whether time of day was more or less important that time of tide. I expected the time of tide to be more important but it turned out that the morning was best once again. The same time as the day before but the tide was an hour higher! The last hour to low tide did not work at all and this was best the day before. All the action came in the same hour for me, I had 2 trout and a flounder. They all ate Jo’s silicone smelt pattern. In the afternoon we went exploring. I drove down the true left bank of a nearby river but did not get a good feeling. The water didn’t scream fish so I drove roughly 40 minutes, mostly off-road to the other bank… It screamed fish. It pays to heed your instinct.  Before long Jo was bent into a good one. The bar of silver took a white clouser fished deep. This was Jo’s best fish for a long time and made has 1200km round trip worth the effort. Soon after I was into one which took right on the corner between the heaving surf and the powerful river.  Paul Macandrews streamer did the trick again! This time a bigger one to suit the heavier water. Jo managed one more and then it went quiet.

All up the fishing was epic over the 2 days. Mostly pretty slow but the anticipation was always positive. Changing tides and conditions could improve the fishing at any time. Aside from the fishing, and at least as important, was the location. I cannot tell you what a special, magical, beautiful, ruthless, tough, powerful, spectacular place this is… I’m trying but words fail to do it justice.

“Go west young man”

Ronan..

Ps. Paul and Jo, Thanks for the flies, the company and the craic!

Also, some big fish in SLTV down at the bottom!!

 

In this instalment of SLTV, Ep 14, Big Fish Week part 2. We have the biggest campfire ever on the west coast (the last time I was there I think!), The good fortune went my way this week… I catch some really big fish including a double, or was it all a dream??? Have a look!

Haast Beckons…

August 14th, 2013 No comments

The last couple of weekends have been tough! The fish seem to be in the middle of a change and off the feed, probably to with spawning and / or a new moon and / or the barometric pressure and / or too many pints the last 2 Saturday nights in Queenstown and  / or simply fishing the wrong water. No excuse though! Thats the way it goes from time to time..

I had an enjoyable day on the water with some friends from Singapore. Yewlin, Chuan and myself gave it hell all day with barely a pull. We tried 4 very different locations and a range of depths but could not find a fish. I was especially surprised not to find a few fish near the stream mouths or the Kawarau outflow. Maybe some fish have run the rivers? By now many browns will have finished spawning but I expect most rainbows are yet to spawn but can’t be too far off.

This weekend Paul Macandrew and I are hitting the west coast. We plan to fish some river mouths around Haast for sea-runners and estuarine trout. We will fish from kayaks. I’m really looking forward to seeing the coast again and fishing with Paul. I miss the sea! I just don’t get enough of it here in Central and Haast is a truly special place for me, I lived there for a few months years ago. Jo Meder will be joining me for a fish on Sunday. I have never fished with Jo so that will be something different. If you fancy coming along get in touch.. ronan@sexyloops.com.

This season I’d like to explore the West Coast. I have never really searched hard over there and there is endless new water to try. I believe it’s a place that demands full attention for successful results. Half measures simply won’t do. It will get my full attention hopefully for a week or 2 and should be the source of some good, interesting reports.

That’s all for now… Bring on the weekend! I hope the weather will be good.

Ronan..

This week on SLTV, Episode 14. Big fish week part 1. We get our gear confiscated for not carrying licences, we master blackberry tossing, we drink beer, climb cliffs, eat manfood, fish hard, catch some really big fish… 4 men, one ford laser.. This is part one of a 2 part show. Enjoy!!

Categories: Expedition Tags:

Where is the core?

July 31st, 2013 No comments

I think if I lived in any other part of the western world with incredible fly-fishing on my doorstep, there would be a core group of hardcore anglers who simply live to fish. Here in the the southern lakes region of NZ there are not many. There are guides who love their game but fish only a few days in winter, and in summer have little time to fish themselves, some keen anglers have other priorities such as family and skiing in the winter months, some just talk about it but rarely actually fish hard at all, I don’t see many young people getting into the game; these people should be the back bone of the sport but they are few and far between. The clubs seem to lack youth, though not due to lack of trying, and this is a shame. I find it hard to believe that in a place like this I don’t know a single person who fishes as much as I do. (If Jeff was here that would not be true!!) Imagine as a skier or snowboarder having every mountain to yourself every time you go out. That’s pretty much how it is for me throughout the winter months on the lakes. It was the same last year. This is a fun, exciting sport but it needs an injection of new life and some fresh thinking…. That, or just keep it for those who are currently involved. There’s an argument for both I guess.

All that said, I’m meeting up with the Canterbury Fly Fishing Club in a few weeks for a weekend on the Central Lakes and I’m really looking forward to that. I’m excited to see their approach to the water and how it differs from mine.

Last weekend I was hoping for bigger and better things but the lake fished reasonably well. I picked up a dozen or so fish over the 2 days, the best about 2.5lbs. They were all well marked and brightly coloured and a mix of browns and rainbows. The weather was good and unseasonably warm. There are not many places in the world where you can fish in the middle of a built up area with planes taking off over you all day, jet boats whizzing passed and numerous other water users about and still catch plenty fish. This is a truly superb place for a fly-fisherman.

I put my back out badly at work on Monday so I think I’ll be out of action this weekend.

Go have a winter fish! Ronan..

This week on SLTV, Backcountry Fjordland part 2. Sean, Fraser, Paul and I take on some wilderness for a few days. We all get some sort of bug on different days but manage plenty excellent fishing. Some great footage of fish eating dries in this episode and some great Blue Duck footage too.

Take it to the limit…

July 23rd, 2013 No comments

Last weekend I took on the mass of water that is Lake Wakatipu once again. It is a massive body of water at 80ks long and averaging 230m deep, 420m at the deepest point. Like all the Southern Lakes it demands respect. That’s not to say a fella can’t enjoy tearing along a trough, and then powering up and over a crest into another trough. At the end of day one, crossing back through the rolling swells was really exciting. Looking ahead, reading the waves and planning my route based on what I could see and feel all at 50kph. I could not photograph or film it because I needed both hands on the wheel and throttle. I’m sure I was having as much fun as the folks sliding down mountains..

I had 13 fish over 2 days. Day one was pretty choppy and the conditions cut my day a bit short. Day 2 I got out earlier and finished later. I had to deal with a sloppy wave at first caused by multiple wind directions. Once I got across the lake the water was pretty peaceful and the exploring began. I basically fished the mouth of every trickle, stream and river that I found. Most produced a fish or two. Tactics were simple; a Di7 with a weighted streamer fished over the drop-off. If I didn’t hook up very quickly I’d leave again in search of another mouth. The wind was dropping all day and the temperature was rising. It was a fantastic day on the water and I made the most of it. I checked the topo map at the end of the day to see how far I roamed, about 85ks! Now I know a full tank will get me about 86ks. Good to know.

I have a different plan for next weekend. More new water. Watch this space, I think something great will be in it!

Congratulations to my Dad, Joe Creane, on winning the McConville Cup on Bilberry in Co. Mayo recently. There are not many that will worry him on an Irish lough, and that’s a fact!

Tight lines all..  Ronan..

This week on SLTV, Ep 13. Backcountry Fjordland. In this episode Chris Dore gets married (Paul and I are groomsmen), we all get drunk a few times and we catch lots of fish.. even while hung over! Seriously though, some good footage in this!