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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..

The read strike…

March 7th, 2014 No comments

I could see 2 fish in the pool. I walked slowly up river while I considered my approach. As always, I didn’t wait and think for too long. It’s important to take the shot as soon as it presents itself but without being rash. I sent in a shot, landing the single weighted nymph ahead of and to the right of the fish. I had no indicator. The fish swung to the right and I struck firmly when he was in the right place. I had no visual other than the fishes mannerisms. I was too far away to see his mouth. When a fish cruises to take your fly, his manner will change after he has eaten it. He will turn, slow down, or change direction in some way. If you wait to see which one of these he does, it will probably be too late! Timing this strike is something I have learned from exceptionally close quarter fishing to lake edge cruisers when both fish and fly (usually a spider or nymph) are visible. To elaborate on one example, When a fish slows down after he has taken your fly his tail will stop moving from side to side. Sounds obvious, but the fish’s speed wont change for a moment or two after the tail stops and by this time it will be too late to strike. Strike when his tail stops! In the end, its down to knowing your fish and where the fly is. Don’t hesitate…. or do!

Ronan..

“The Ronan” Beheaded…

February 28th, 2014 No comments

Another weekend has landed and I have no blog up! This will be a quick one.. Last weekend was intended to be a West Coast mission but the weather did not comply. Instead Iza and I went to the Waitaki Valley to fish Benmore and Aviemore. The sight fishing was excellent on Saturday. Plenty fish about and in great condition. Sunday the weather closed in quickly but I had a few good moments in the morning. Iza is not having much joy with her spinning rod. It’s as if the fish Gods are against her but they’ll come round. I know they will, I have a direct line and they’re just playin’ silly buggers at the moment (as they say in NZ).

Almost at the end of the fishing day on Saturday, I handed Iza my fly-rod (an SL Pro Hot torpedo, aka”The Ronan”). I took her spinning rod to whack out a cast. Somehow my fly-rod sneaked in front of the spinning rod while in mid cast. I beheaded “The Ronan”… That’s the second time I’ve learned to keep fly-rods away from spinning rods. My good friend back home once ploughed his spinning rod through my Sage XP. Thanks Eamonn!! “Lesson to be repeated until learned”, as Graeme Williams would say.

I’m meeting Robbie Mcphee tomorrow for a weekend on the water.

Later all! Let me know what you think of the slideshow feature. I think it needs to be bigger? Below the pics? I’ll work on it.

Ronan..

Daltona Rides Again…

February 17th, 2014 8 comments

The last time I tried to start Daltona’s old 35hp Johnson was with Chris Dore on Lake Wakitipu last winter. She simply would not start. I think Chris was secretly happy because the wind was strong and the waves were big. I was a bit relieved myself, truth be told. My diagnosis at the time was that the spark plugs had run their course. There was one Saturday since then that I made a half assed effort to resolve the problem; I borrowed a spark plug spanner but it did not fit. On Saturday last, Kevin and I decided to take a look at the outboard with the hope of getting out on the water. Within 5 minutes Kevin had the engine running like the well oiled machine she is. It was indeed the spark plugs. We wasted no time and hit for the lake.

The weekend was a rare one where the almost incessant shitwinds of Cromwell took a respite. Fishing the glass on Dunstan is extremely challenging and in my opinion the best fishing Dunstan has to offer. It’s a shame its such a rare event. The fish move and track, usually around the edges of the weed beds. Dries and nymphs will work but quick, accurate casting will be the difference between a great day and few or no fish. When the breeze picks up to a slight ripple the fishing is a lot easier and I usually move to the silty pockets among the weeds. Most of Sunday had a corduroy ripple on the surface and I lost count of how many fish I had to the net. All sighted. A size 14 weighted spider was the ticket. A 2mm tungsten bead was just enough weight to quickly get the fly to the zone.

Daltona rides again…

ps. Sorry about the small pics this week! I had my camera set on very low res because I forgot my sd card one day, then I forgot to put it back on full res! The internal memory is shite.

Ronan..

Fishing with Ken Whelan and David Lambroughton…

February 5th, 2014 No comments

Last weekend I went to Waikia to meet and to fish with Ken Whelan and David Lambroughton. Ken has been working is Ireland since 1975 as a fisheries scientist and his work is well known throughout the country. He has been in charge of the Marine Institute, amongst other organisations, and has run many projects studying everything salmonid and beyond. I often heard his name when I was growing up in the Irish angling circuit so it was great to meet and fish with him to put a face to the name.

On Saturday Ken and I fished the Mataura below Gore. The day was very cold and overcast and not a day for David’s style of photography, so he did some editing instead. On speaking to a local angler we found out that there was no evening rise to look forward to. Also he mentioned seeing very few fish in the glass this season. This didn’t bother me too much. I took Ken to a favourite spot of mine with plenty of riffles. They were slow by Mataura standards but we managed to hook about 12 or 13 fish in the morning session, landing 4. We explored some new water in the afternoon but did not have much action. That said, I had a totally absorbing hour fishing to willow grubbers. I hooked and lost 2, but it was an enthralling 60 minutes.

Back at base that night the steak sizzled on the barbecue, beers were cracked and the craic was good. We spoke about all things fishing and non fishing until Ken and I got stuck in a heavy conversation about Irish seatrout, salmon and salmon farming. This put David to bed. It was great to speak to someone like Ken who has put his life’s work so far into the topic. I learned a lot and the following are a few facts I’d like to share.

1. Ken filmed what I’m about to outline with a childhood hero of mine, Eamonn De Buitleir. When Salmon pair up to spawn on the redds, the female will usually be accompanied by more than one male. This I knew! What I did not know was the fact that male par (3 to4 inches long) can also fertilise the eggs. This is the piscatorial equivalent of precision bombing! These little par can get right in amongst the gravel to deliver the goods right on target. What is not known is whether or not they die after spawning like most Atlantic salmon do. Pretty amazing anyway. If salmon do it, trout probably do too.

2.Most of us know seatrout as a sea fish which enters fresh water to spawn a number of months after arrival. In Ireland, most seatrout enter the rivers in July and don’t spawn until December. There is another strain of seatrout around the Irish coast which enters the rivers from the sea in December. They spawn asap and get back to their life in the salt in as little as 36 hours.

3. Ken told me about an experiment in which he needed a number of small brown trout to see how quickly they could adapt to saline conditions. The plan was slowly subject them to salt water, but for a reason he told me that I can’t recall they ended up putting all the trout straight into full on salt water. The trout appeared to be out of breath for a short while, but then they were fine. None died. These fish’s ancestry had not seen salt for 10’000 years. So estuarine fish can easily feed in salt and fresh without hesitation. My own fishing experience had suggested this, but now I know it.

4. All of the remaining wild salmon from Portugal, Spain, France and the South of England as well as Ireland, pass by the Aran Islands on their migration to their feeding grounds. To place a salmon farm right in this salmon corridor will put these wild fish in grave danger. No person has the right to give this proposed farm the green light. This is not just an Irish issue.

5. There were heaps more interesting facts, but I’m getting tired typing! Ken’s new book, Nomads of the Tides, is on sale now. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m sure there is plenty info in the book which I can apply to NZ seatrout. http://www.medlarpress.com/8166-Fishing-Books-Nomads-of-the-Tides_by_McCully–Whelan.html

After a good nights sleep in a farmhouse bed, I was awoken by 12 gunshots from an angry farmer. The shots were fired while he roared like a man possessed at his dogs. Some may have died, I’m not sure. The insanity was at the next farm and neither I nor David or Ken investigated.

I think I heard of David Lambroughton a year or so ago. He’s a photographer and a fly fisherman. His work is vibrant and colourful, some may say too much so, but on meeting the man all the colour makes sense. I really like what I’ve seen of his work and some of it is simply spectacular. Check this out… http://davidlambroughton.com/?pageID=813801#

David made me his special concoction for breakfast. It consisted of juice, banana, oatmeal and other stuff all whipped up in the blender. It was guaranteed to keep us going all day. Shortly after, we all set off to fish a section of a favourite river of mine that I had never fished before. The water was ideally low. The river was pretty tough going, which was no surprise to me as it usually is. The slippery rocks were a surprise though. Like ice! I need to replace all my starbites on my boots. I have 3 left out of about 40! We were in the water almost all day. The banks were impenetrable. After about 4ks and 3 sighted fish we emerged from the forest. David did not get any pictures, which was his mission for the day. Neither Ken or I had a fish. Ken wandered on up river which was straight at this stage and flowing through easy farmland. I spotted one in a deep riffle which ate the nymph first cast. Shortly after I had another shot which I made a balls of. Ken had a shot to a rising fish on his bank without success. 100m from the truck I spied a nice fish, I put on David’s dry cdc pattern which he had given me after breakfast. First cast, the fish ate. That was it. As many fish in the last k to the truck as in the whole day up to then. That’s how it goes.

Ken and David, Thank you both for your hospitality.. David, Thanks for putting up with two mad Irishmen! I realise one is difficult enough..

The weekend with Sean McCarthy and the following weekend with the Wakitipu Anglers Club mission to Manorburn will have to be told in photo’s below because I’m all typed out!!!

To those of you who emailed me, I’ll get to you as soon as I can. Every minute of every day is accounted for these days, which is just how I like it!

Have a great week, Ronan..

Bacon & Egg pie and the perfect fishing day…

January 17th, 2014 2 comments

It was hard to plan any time away from home over the Christmas break. The forecast was never good for more than a day or two in any direction. I was not keen to drive for hours to meet rain and high, dirty rivers so I saved time and petrol and spent a few days on my water feature, aka Lake Dunstan. With all the rain, the lake has been very high which is usually a good thing. Daltona is still out of action so I was shore bound. When the lake was carrying some colour shortly after the heavy rain the fishing was great. I fished some mud and soft silt flats with a size 10 skinny bugger which was irresistible to the fish. Big enough to effectively fish blind, small enough to fish to a cruiser and light enough to use for the tailers in the weed beds. When the lake cleared, the bugger was ignored but buzzers and spiders nailed ‘em.  The seemingly gale force winds rarely relent on Dunstan. The only time it seems to drop is to change direction and this only lasts about 15 minutes. The odd time the lake is calm it’s amazing. The fishing to tracking fish on dries has to be experienced to be believed. I have not seen it yet this season! Fish numbers are good this year and the quality of the fish is the best I’ve ever seen.

At the end of almost a month off work with testing fishing conditions, the stars finally aligned and a perfect fishing day occurred unexpectedly. Jeff and I had planned to fish together and the forecast was okay. Then Fraser decided to join and the weather turned out to be perfect. Both Jeff and Fraser are great fella’s to fish with and this was the first time we all fished together. We worked as a team and did well with our chances. We spotted for for each other, which sometimes involved climbing up on rocky bluffs to get the perfect view down into the pool. We helped each other with netting fish, we passed on advise to each other when we could see something the angler could not, and I think we all made each others day a little better. Not all people are compatible on a river but we certainly are. We camped out that night. Fire, beer, food and craic. We woke to heavy rain and a rising river so we pulled the pin.

Fraser fishes with me when he can. He’s a busy man with his family, business’s, diving, shooting, fishing, travelling and more. It’s always eventful and fun to fish with him. The last couple of outing’s with me he didn’t do so well, but this time he did. Good casting to a travelling fish and first time accuracy to a fish feeding on station ensured 2 from 2 shots!

Robert and Linda, Thanks for returning my phone! That ancient brick was indeed mine.. Also thanks for subscribing.

Get your willow grubs out.. They’re falling!

Ronan..

Striking Gold!

January 2nd, 2014 2 comments

So far on this holiday season the fishing has been pretty average. The first mission to the coast with Guy and Jeff was okay, the second with Mark Adamson was a bit worse. The mouths didn’t fish well, but then, in truth, we did not really give them a serious run. One was too coloured, one was full of glacial silt but just fishable, and the tide was wrong when we had time to fish another. So if conditions were right they may have been epic, but my gut tells me otherwise.

Mark and I had 2 days on the coast. Day one we tried some mouths as I just mentioned, also a spring creek but it looked as though someone had been in there earlier that day with a chainsaw. Possibly to clear a run for a jetboat, or to get bulls out of a grazing area farther up the creek. A farmer told me that. Either way, It felt like a waste of fishing time being there. The water was spectacular though. We tried another spot with no joy, so we went to the pub for a steak and a pint.

Day 2 we fished a typical, large west coast river. It was high after rain but clear. I got one on a dry right away. Mark spotted the fish but as he was not set up, I took the shot and got the fish. It’s essential not to fuck around when an opportunity presents itself. Take the shot! Waiting for someone results in too many lost chances. I’ve learned this many times. We expected plenty more shots but unfortunately, they did not come. We got 2 each for the day, 3 on that river and one on a river during a quick stop on the drive home. So not many fish, but a truly great day in one of the nicest places I’ve seen.

My old friend Kevin Alexander, who you’ll know from many previous blogs, has just moved to Cromwell. We’ve been doing some gold dredging and some fishing as well as eating and some drinking. It’s great to have him and his family here and he’ll probably be popping up on this a lot more from now on. Soon we will fix Daltona! She’s been idle too long.

This has been a good Christmas so far for catching up with friends, especially Bob Toffler. Bob, I’m delighted that broken leg healed up and thank you for showing me your secret spots! I managed a 5 and a 6lber to finish off 2013..

Happy new year everyone from the thundery and rainy Otago night… I don’t know what’s in store but I expect I’ll stay in NZ, especially after reading about the Irish Budget. They’re squeezing every last drop out of those who remain..

Ronan..

 

 

Falling down holes…

December 24th, 2013 No comments

I tried to warn Jeff about a deep hole in the ground. I had just spotted it and managed to avoid it. I turned my head and called back to him. The message just made it to Jeff’s ears as he fell down the hole. It was pretty deep and a very funny moment. Watching someone fall over is usually funny. As the day progressed we both took a few more tumbles down holes hidden in the long grass. At the end of the day while rushing back meet Guy who was waiting for us, Jeff fell pretty deep into a hole. He got out, then fell into another. I had time to take a picture. I laughed loudly as he struggled, cursing out of the hole. Once he was out we continued our trek out. Our conversation turned to falling down holes. I was telling a story of how I just missed out on a 7′ drop earlier that day and then on to a story from the Tasmanian highlands. Just as I got to the good bit of the story (the fall!) I vanished from Jeff’s sight. My right leg went down a hole and did not reach the bottom. I was left bent sideways in the hole from my left leg to my chest, which took all of the impact. I was a bit winded and shocked but unhurt. All I could hear after some all too  brief concern was Jeff’s Laughter, shortly followed by my own. I dragged myself out of the hole and continued. Within a few steps my bent hip was straight again.

The story of our 3 days on the coast is told in the photo’s below.

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Happy Christmas everyone! Guy and Jeff, Thanks for an eventful few days!

Ronan..