Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Alexander’

You Should Winter Fish!

July 11th, 2016 No comments

I was chatting with a friend recently about the spawning season in NZ. After giving it a little thought we realised that taking both browns and rainbows into account the spawning season is at least 6 months long. I have certainly witnessed brown trout making redds in April and I have seen rainbows still in spawning mode when their season opens in November. This is good for us winter anglers! All fish don’t spawn at the same time so throughout the winter months we can target fish which are not in spawning mode. I have heard the question posed about the ethics of winter fishing. The answer is, as long as you’re an ethical angler it’s no problem. Personally, I avoid fish which are showing the signs of imminent spawning. To clarify; fish tightly paired up, fish on redds or fish making redds.

Winter is an exciting time to indulge in your sport. Fish congregate around river mouths providing some great opportunities for the winter angler. Sinking lines and streamers are usually the best bet here. Some rivers are open year round, on these rivers you can intercept fish on their spawning run. It’s possible to have summer quality sight fishing with nymphs in the dead of winter. Most lakes are open year round and because all fish don’t spawn together there are always fish to be caught. Benmore is a prime example of this, Dunstan too; both blind and sight fishing. Winter will test you and push you as a fisherman. To be very successful, you need to be able to cast a lot of weight from time to time. Fish are often sitting in deep runs and the only way to get down to them is with weighted flies, sometimes as much weight as you can manage! I have recently added Loon soft weight to my fly-vest on Chris Dore’s advise. This stuff is great! Even if you don’t have bombs in your fly box you can add some soft weight to virtually any fly and make it go down. It has often been the difference between catching and not catching for me this winter. Casting fast sinking fly-lines is another skill that winter fishing will teach you. Sometimes the only way to effectively fish a large river like the Clutha or a deep river mouth is with a di5 or even a di7. A stripping basket is important. I like to use 7 or 8 weight fly-rods for a lot of my winter fishing which keeps my finger on the pulse for when I need to fish with heavier gear abroad. Generally speaking, there is little need for sinking likes during the warmer 6 months of the year so winter provides a great training ground. Winter fishing in NZ, as long as you push yourself a bit, will make you a well rounded, better angler.

It’s been a great few weeks fishing with friends! I’ve had plenty days on the water; river and lake from boat and bank. The photo’s and their captions tell the stories. I hope you enjoy them..

I have plenty days available for guiding this July, please feel free to enquire about winter rates or if you have any questions about bookings for next season.

Tight Lines!



Big Bad Bows…

May 30th, 2016 3 comments


I’ve made no secret of being a brown trout fisherman first and foremost. However, some recent fishing has given rainbows the limelight. By the time May comes around most browns are getting close to spawning so I usually leave them alone. It’s rainbow time! Luckily, in this southern part of NZ there are plenty rivers open throughout May and even the winter months. I went out on May 1st to check out some of my favourite water for the time of year. I quickly found some fish and landed a few between 4 and 5lbs. These fish were in great nick and above the average size I’ve been used to. Then I saw one which I thought must have been big! I lost sight of it but cast the streamer in its vicinity. Then I saw it again, I quickly cast the streamer well above it and steered it into its path. The Glister, which I beefed up with soft weight, passed it by. She turned and nailed it downstream. I saw the gills flare like a bass! The fish was on, a mighty battle in deep water running up and down at the bottom of the pool. She turned out to be 8lbs, much bigger than I was expecting even though I knew it was big. I was blown away! She equalled my second biggest rainbow ever. I heard from the lads at the Hunting & Fishing shop that there were a few big boys and girls about. I went out again a few days later to a different part of the river. Once again it didn’t take long to bank a fish or two around 5lbs. Stunning bars of silver! I only had my phone as a camera and I was fishing alone so no photos. I could not be bothered trying to balance a skinny phone on a rock while waiting for it’s 10 second timer to fire! Then I saw another big one at the bottom of a very deep and fast run, 2 meters down I’d say. I put on a heavy bomb with a worm-fly attached. I made a number of casts upstream, well upstream, to get to depth. I was pretty sure I was getting into the zone. I made a number of casts using left and right mends to steer the fly. Then the magic moment, that little swing right. I lifted against a heavy weight then fury was unleashed.. He tore up and down the river as deep as he could stay. I kept big pressure on him with 9lb fluoro to keep him out of snags. The SL Hot Torpedo was under the gun but it performed as expected. Not quite as big as the rainbow from a few days prior but a much nicer fish and certainly in my top 3 rainbows. Since then it’s been raining almost every day and the river has been pretty much unfishable. Still, The fishing I had in that first week of May was off the charts and I’m thankful for that.


Jeff and I recently took on the back-county to explore some water. Our motives were:

1, To learn about what happens on this predominantly rainbow river in May.

2, Hopefully lock in some potential guiding water for next season.

3, To do what we live for –  Fly-Fish!

What we learned was interesting. There were feck all rainbows about. We saw 3 and hooked all of them. Clearly feeding fish not even thinking about spawning. There was a huge run of brown trout in the river on their spawning run. The browns were mostly on the move, any paired up fish received no attention from us. It was pretty exciting fishing! Fast, accurate, short casts with streamers in fast water did the business followed in close second by a weighted san juan worm. We put in two big days on a river which kept getting better the farther we went (which made it hard to make the “last pool” call. Indeed, there were many!!).


Chris Dore and myself also went into the back-country but just for a day trip. Our mission was to find a big trout and hopefully catch it. We found one very big fish which saw us first. He was lying in a most unexpected position, but we should have seen it. Our bad!! We saw another big fish (not as big at the first which was 12lbs ish I reckon) in a similar position. We were forewarned on this weird position in the dead water inside the bend, and so made no mistake with spotting this one. No joy though! We landed 7 average sized fish for the day. Great to fish with Chris again. Its getting harder and harder to find the time. Man, he can cast! Since we did our FFF CI together years ago, Chris has pushed forward in a big way. MCI material without a doubt.


A fantastic finale to the brown trout season is documented in photo’s below. Jeff and I had 11 for the day from 3.5 to 8lbs. It was some of the best still water fishing I’ve had. Mostly blind, meticulously working the water.

Jeff and I also finished off our episode of “Pure Fly NZ” I think its called. As with the previous days on the water it was not easy but all up, I reckon you’ll be pleased with the result. I think a pretty decent story line evolved over the few days. It’s all down to the editor now!


I had a couple of guide days recently which were successful, both brought difficult water heights but we managed a few fish each day and had a great time on the water. Thanks for getting in touch Frank and Fritz..

I recently became a member of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association or NZPFGA. I had an interview with the executive committee recently and went to the AGM the following day. It was really good to meet other members and I’m happy to be a part of this club. Onwards and upwards!

Bring on June! If you fancy getting out for some winter fishing let me know. June and July are open for business. Email me with any questions.

If you’re new to this and enjoy what I put together, please subscribe! Feel free to share on social Media..

Cheers All, Ronan..


Lake Wanaka, Lake Dunstan and the West Coast in September…

September 24th, 2015 No comments

About a year ago I noticed some good looking water on Lake Wanaka from the top of Rocky Mountain. The weekend before last I went to check it out. The day was perfect, little or no wind with bright sunshine. I spotted the edges and saw very few cruisers. The few I cast to were extremely spooky and just fecked off from even the most delicate presentation. I was there for about 2 hours without catching before I started putting it together. I noticed some fish rising well out, some in range, all sporadic. I saw a few chironomid on the top. I thought it would be worth putting on a team of two buzzers on a long 4lb tippet and fishing it blind. After about an hour I got one. Once I found a reasonable concentration of fish I got a few more. It went to plan! I found a few fish and figured out what they were at and got some. When fish are difficult to catch it makes it all the more rewarding when you do catch! It’s worth mentioning that as I get older I’m getting more disciplined in this type of fishing. In the past I needed to be doing more. Stripping I guess! Now I can stay focussed while just staying in touch with my flies for as long as it takes. Like my father! Alhough it will be many more years before I come close to his skill level with a team of buzzers.

The following day I went to Dunstan, my home water. It never fails! I know it well at this stage. After my buzzer fishing on Lake Wanaka the day before it seemed like the right choice for Dunstan too. I battled the silt and blind fished the water in front of me as I steadily walked to keep covering new water. Critical when blind fishing. The more water you cover the more fish you cover, it’s as simple as that. I had about 10 fighting fit browns and a rainbow, mostly on the buzzer. In the afternoon I tried out some new water on the lower Kawarau. I had a couple on the woolly bugger. Another great day, Its always a bonus to successfully try out some new water.. Great to catch up with Mike Wilkinson, Kevin and Alan Mc Intire on the lake too!

The weekend just passed was a mission to the coast. The forecast was for sun and light winds. Ideal conditions. It turned out we had very strong wind for most of Saturday. That coupled with big surf made the going difficult. I heaved out the flies all day long to no avail. I might have had one touch but probably not. Iza, on the other hand, did well. Her soft plastic fish imitation fooled 2 trout and a Kahawai. One of her trout was the fattest seatrout I’ve seen on the coast. Stuffed to the gills with something, whitebait or toheroa most likely. One of the Wakitipu Anglers Club members had a  trout stuffed with toheroa! On Sunday the winds were light and there were very few people around, not even whitebaiters. With the place to ourselves we still couldn’t get a fish. Not even on Iza’s spin gear. I hooked and lost a good trout in the morning which was the highlight of my fishing for the weekend. The Wakitipu Anglers club, with which I’m a member, also had a gathering there at the weekend. I haven’t heard many results but I don’t think many were caught from the river mouths. This is usually a great time of year over there so I don ‘t know why the fishing was so bad. The whitebaiters are saying that the bait has not turned up yet so maybe its all about to happen…

I’m taking bookings for the season ahead, so if you’d like me to guide you on your NZ trout adventure contact me here! You know you’ll be in good hands.. October is only a week away! (

Tight lines, another weekend is almost upon us!


ps..      If your in this area the Wakitipu Anglers Club is a great club to be a part of!



NZ – Vietnam – Ireland – Jordan – NZ…

August 27th, 2015 No comments

Iza and I are just back in NZ after our multi-country adventure. For the first month we did our own thing before meeting up in Ireland for my sisters wedding. I only did a days fruitless fishing in Vietnam, the rest of the time I was tearing around the country on the back of my brothers motorbike. We also made time to drink the worst beer in the world, eat some of the best food in the world and see the sights. I also only did one days fishing in Jordan with limited success. Don’t get your hopes up about seeing anything amazing but I will have some good information on Jordan’s fly fishing potential.. The rest of the time in Jordan was spent diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea. Fishing was not priority (for a change) for much of the trip but I had a few weeks at home in the west of Ireland where it was. Some of the fishing was excellent, mostly on Lough Inagh for grilse and Kylemore Lough for big sea-trout. I’m not sure when exactly I’ll be able to put a report together but it will include salmon, seat-rout, brown trout, pike, some saltfly and being hospitalized in a military hospital in the south of Jordan, actually, that’s enough said about the latter. It was hell.

The photo’s below are from before we left NZ about 9 weeks ago. My intention was to get a report out before we left but better late than never! Some good stuff to come but I’m waiting on a memory card in the post from Ireland so a NZ report may come first. Needless to say I’ll be on the water all weekend!

It’s good to be back!


Just over a month to October 1st!         Groovy…

The Mighty Clutha…

June 11th, 2015 No comments

There’s still a bag of venison mince in the freezer from the deer I shot last January and now its well topped up with wild pork from a recent mission up the hill with Kevin. I try to keep a good stock of trout fillets in the freezer too. It makes sense to live off the land and water as much as possible. The lake is stuffed with trout and the hills alive with rabbits, hares, pigs and deer. Ducks, geese and swans are all fair game too. I’ll be looking into buying my own rifle soon now that I’m officially a New Zealand resident! They wouldn’t give me a gun in Ireland for some reason.

The Clutha has finally thrown me a bone. It’s a river I’ve never really liked. I remember hearing about  “the highest biomass of fish in NZ” at Deans Bank a number of years ago, but the 2 or 3 times I fished it I blanked. On the rare occasion that I’d explore a section of the river I’d find nothing and feel like there was no chance of catching. Its a very fast flowing, monster of a river. This in itself does not deter me from it, not at all, but it is the reason I have not done so well on it. Recently I decided I’d have another crack. I studied it with google earth looking for feature. Anything from large bends, backwaters, side-braids, stable banks with slow moving water, whatever! I found a number of areas to be worth a look. The first on the list was a nice side-braid so I went to check it out a few weeks ago. Access is not readily available but I got permission from the farmer and walked from the road about 2ks to the river. The braid has been very interesting the 3 times I’ve fished it recently. There were never heaps of fish but always a decent amount. They seemed to be in different types of water each time I went. I’ve had a good mix of browns and rainbows from about a pound to 5lbs. All on streamers but nymphs would have worked too. June is the most difficult month to find good fishing in NZ, so this little spot has been a ray of light. I’ve had some great sight fishing with streamers which is a really exciting way to catch a trout. Whether a cast to a sighted fish results in an eat or not, watching the response is always absorbing and enjoyable. Sometime he bolts for cover, other times there’s a cautious follow and sometimes he’ll just smash it as hard and as fast as he’s able. Blind fishing likely water has also resulted in quite a few trout.

The nicest thing about this little braid is the fact that at the end of the day I’m back to where I started. No big walk out. I fish the braid upstream to where it begins at the main river, then fish the main river downstream to where the braid comes back in, from there I fish back up the braid to where I started. There’s a huge riffle on the main river in the vicinity the start of the braid. This has been fantastic for one to 2lb rainbows. It’s ideal nymph water so I gave them a run on one occasion but  only had one take. I fished it back down with my possum streamer and had 4.

I don’t normally write about casting but I found myself using an interesting technique while fishing the riffle mentioned it the paragraph above. I’ll share it with you, but first I’ll put it in the context of the type of fishing I was doing. I was fishing a weighted streamer on a clear intermediate line and had no stripping basket. I was standing nee deep in a huge riffle, current flowing to my right (and I’m right handed). I wanted to put a long cast upstream and across at about 45 degrees, let it sink as it drifted downstream, then retrieve while taking a few steps down river. I didn’t want to feel the weight of the current on my fly-line which is why I take a few steps downstream during my retrieve, I want to feel as though my streamer is coming across the current in a fairly natural manner, not bolting around on the swing. At the end of the drift my fly is hanging downstream below the rod tip. The slack line is also hanging downstream below me. To achieve the cast, I firstly roll the fly upriver, roughly at the angle I wanted to cast, then pick up the slack line in my left hand letting the strong current take the strain thus “loading” my hand, with a flick of the arm and wrist all the slack fly line would shoot up river. Immediately after that, I reach forward with my left hand and grab the line to haul into my back-cast, picking the short amount of line from the water as is drifts down river in front of me. As the slack line drifts back downstream towards and passed me, the lack of resistance from the current allows me to easily haul all the slack line from the fast water and make the desired cast. The cast is very hard to achieve if all the slack sinking line remains downstream under the weight of the current. Okay, quite hard to describe. If you understand what I just tried to explain, well done. I hope it benefits you some time!

There’s another braid I hope to check out soon and I just discovered that the Hawea River is open all year round. Groovy.

This weekend starts tomorrow. No plan as yet. Iza and I will go somewhere. This time 2 weeks I’ll be with my brother in Vietnam, then Ireland for 6 weeks then Jordan for 2. The countdown has started!

Tight lines all!



Still waters run deep…

March 10th, 2015 1 comment

In high summer in NZ it pays not to depend completely on flowing water as the source of your fishing. Rivers get low, fish numbers tend to decrease as a result. River and stream options get fewer between December and the end of March. This is certainly true here in Central Otago. I’d say it’s also true to some extent in most districts. Luckily for me I don’t discriminate at all between bodies of water I like to fish. Recently I went to mine and Kevins secret dams. The top dam was great! Very low with plenty healthy cruisers about. There is a small stream flowing out of the top dam and into the bottom dam about a kilometre away. I went for a look.. On arrival about 1000 geese, swans and ducks got off the main part of the dam. This dam is in 2 parts; a small containment of water in the vicinity of the stream mouth makes the first part, the second is a much larger body of water (where the birds were) connected by a gap in an earth bank. Usually the part near the stream mouth does not hold many fish but on this day it did. On approach to the dam via the stream I saw about 10 fish feeding in the extremely dirty, murky water. Most fish were in the 4lb- 6lb class with some bigger. I took my time and worked on them one at a time. They were not easy. With all the weeds,  feathers and stuff on the surface and the lack of clarity in the water, just getting them to see the fly was the greatest challenge. When I believed that they did see it they did not always respond to it. I landed 3 in the couple of absorbing hours between 4 and 6lbs. These were all incredible fish. Fat, beautifully coloured and marked and very strong. I got one on a spider which I put in the path of a cruiser, one on a small damsel; I made him chase it, and one on a bright orange fly; bright to be seen in the murk. I changed fly often to suit every individual trout. Before I left to go home I had a look in the main body of the dam. It was pea green with virtually no viz. The heat of the summer and the shit of 1000 game birds had caused an algal bloom. I guess this is why the fish favoured the relative clarity and cleanliness of the water near the stream mouth.

I described the water to Guy and he said he had no interest in that kind of fishing. I get it. The water is dirty! If a splash got into your mouth you’d be wise to spit it out quickly. I don’t care though. In fact, I love it. It’s a million miles from stereotypical NZ water but to me it has something great to offer. The fish are fantastic, they feed on or near the top quite a lot, the fishing is challenging and absorbing; so much so that it removes me from the shit, weed and slime!

I’ve had a look at many more still waters recently, they don’t generally suffer low water summer conditions like rivers do. I’ve been having a ball on them. If I was a wealthy angler coming to NZ, I’d be chatting to my guide about a still water option and that’s for sure.

Feel free to contact me with any questions through the comments section or via email at

Tight Lines!


Keep Your Nerve…

November 27th, 2014 1 comment

I’ve been up to my eyeballs lately and it has been hard to find the time to write. I’m busy at work, working on visa stuff, doing a few jobs around the house, nursing a few injuries, the list goes on.. Needless to say I’ve been on the water every weekend (bar one, I had to rest to allow my hand and back injuries to recover so Iza and I went walking locally.. hence the flower pics!!)

Dunstan is fishing well. Good sight fishing to be had around the edges and on the flats. I know the boat would be great on it but mine is out of order just now. Last weekend I had the best fishing on the silt flats blind fishing a couple of spiders. I fished them the same way my father would, just figure of eighting, staying in touch and waiting for resistance. Great fish too. Some over 4lbs and in great condition.

Mark and I found a gorge on a local river on Google Earth. It had and entry point and an easy exit about 6-8ks farther up. What was in between didn’t look too tough but you can’t be sure, I learned that before! So, we took it on even though the water was high. Sort of a mistake as it turned out. Sight fishing was tough in the deeper pools and damn all fish were out in the water we could see. The going was tough. Just about every step took extra effort and moving up stream in the river was very limited with the steep sides and deep water. Basically we bush bashed, climbed and bouldered all day. I love it. Being in a gorge is one of the best things about NZ fishing. Tough gorges, like this one, see very few anglers. One needs to be a little bit adventurous (some might say mad, but not me) to enjoy them. It’s important to realise the risks involved and not be Gung ho while in the thick of it. When climbing I try to assess the risks as I go. If a section appears dangerous, I look to see if there is something to grab on to if I slipped, a crack, a sprig of thyme, whatever. If there is nothing I’ll find another route. Occasionally you have no choice but to make a risky manoeuvre. At these times you need to keep your nerve, don’t hesitate. Always try to help your fishing buddy.

This gorge seemed to go on forever! We thought we were near the end but we weren’t. We thought it was flattening out but then it got steeper, we thought it was getting easier but it got harder. Mark was getting impatient. He just wanted out, some of the riskier climbs were taking their toll. I wanted to see it through. Thankfully there was no place to climb out and shortly after we made it to the bridge. The fishing was not so good but the gorge was awesome.. in the true sense of the word.

Guy was here recently. We planned a trip to the coast but we turned back with the rainfall increasing as we drove west. We fished Dunstan instead! Good old reliable Dunstan. Hail, rain, snow or sun, it will fish.

Great to fish with Kevin, Mark and Guy recently!


Ps. Here is a short article I wrote for Manic Tackle Project recently..

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.


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.


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.