Posts Tagged ‘Lake Dunstan’

Onwards and Upwards… (and Iza’s curved cast!)

November 14th, 2015 No comments

I’m adjusting well in to my new lifestyle. Not working as a woodworker for 44 hours a week means I have time to think, time to consider my new job as a fly-fishing guide and do whatever it takes to make it work. My guiding season has been slow to start as I expected, but I have a busy period coming up which I’m really looking forward to. My website is not off the ground yet but its happening. I’m at the beginning of something great and I’m enjoying it. I’m also quite excited about where it will lead. Exploring new water is now more important than ever before and I’m lapping it up.

I’ve been enjoying quite a range of fly-fishing lately. I’ve targeted a few big fish, mostly average sized fish, some salt-fly and quite a bit of exploration. Tomorrow I’ll be checking out a river that I have fished before but not for a long time. I’m looking forward to it. More on that on my facebook page tomorrow evening. (

One thing I’d like to share from a recent trip to the coast is the story of a challenging brown trout Iza caught. We were walking along a high bank together and I spotted a big fish down below happily feeding in a deepish riffle. The wind was blowing hard up river. The only place to take the shot from was on top of the high bank about 10 foot above the river. Because of our elevation we had to stay well behind the fish so as not to spook it. The cast was a difficult one. Quite long and from a hight, so leaving it very open to being whipped away by the wind. I suggested that she compensate for the wind and cast well left of and to the back the fish and let the wind carry it up. She said that I should take the shot but I convinced her to take it. She did, the first cast fell short but the second one was a pleasure to watch. The cast went left, the wind caught it and carried it up in a curve to the fish. The dry and nymph landed about a meter in front and the trout started to rise to the dry immediately; sailed up and confidently ate it. The strike was bang on and battle was not an easy one. Between scrambling down the high bank to the river, and being connected to an extremely strong fish she did well to land it. A fish like that makes any day a really great one.

I’m at a transition of sorts with my blog. For the last 5 years my blog has been about my own experiences, trips with my friends, my observations in and around the sport of fly fishing. To a certain extent I want to keep it like that but I also want to share my guiding experiences. I guess for the moment I’ll use what ever content and photo’s I feel like and in time a healthy balance of my guiding and my fishing will evolve.

If you’re planning a trip to NZ and need a guide why not get in touch! You’ll be in good hands..

Tight lines everyone.


PS.. If you like this, please subscribe!



Big Trout in 150kph Gales…

October 11th, 2015 No comments

A day on the Clutha at the end of September got me fired up for the new season which was fast approaching. I explored another new section and found a great variety of water in a fairly small area. Side braids, backwaters, and the main river all in close proximity. There were quite a few fish present too. I adapted my methods as I fished the variety of waters and picked up fish in each one. Dries, nymphs and spiders all accounted for a few fish.

Last weekend was the first weekend of the new season. October is probably the best month of the season if river conditions are okay; the big “if”. The small tributary streams still hold a good stock of trout after their spawning escapades of the previous June and July. Usually the tributaries are nice and full from rain and snow melt but sometimes too full, October often brings high rainfall and rivers which are too high to fish with any comfort. With good river conditions (like right now) it’s all on and great fun. As the season progresses the water recedes and the fish numbers decrease as they fall back to the main river. Larger rivers fish well in October too. Even those with a resident stock of trout often seem to have more fish about than in high summer, although, this is a sweeping statement and could be not be applied to all rivers. Either way, I love October. Plenty fish about and usually very catchable! Sometimes browns can be in poor shape having not mended well after spawning but over the years I’ve learned where to avoid so as not to catch ragged fish.

My opening weekend was a great one. I had loosely planned to go to the coast but the forecast put me off that idea. My chosen river for Saturday had some serious barriers in the form of mud slides and road slumps, but the new truck carried me over. Minor slippage gave me a pang of fear due the severe slope of the rubble on the track and drop below it but all ended well. That day I walked a solid 8ks of river but did not see many fish. Possibly due to the high and slightly coloured water. I hooked and landed 3 out of the 5 I saw. All great fish up to 7.75lbs. When I saw the second fish of the day I decided I’d have lunch before I made my cast. Usually I take the shot quickly but this time I thought, “No, I’ll have lunch first”. The fish is always in that lie so I was confident I had all the time I needed. I had never caught a fish from that lie before, possibly it’s always the same fish but also quite possible that they move around a bit and a number of fish utilise the same lies, but thats another story! I ate my lunch and forgot about the fish. I thought about the season ahead and the one just gone. I usually bring a beer with me for my lunch, as I got to the end of it I moved to the rivers edge. I said a few words to the river and to whoever / whatever and shared a libation. I felt good. Happy. I packed up my stuff and changed my rig to suit the fish up ahead. He was still there. I worked on him for a while before eventually hooking him on a #16 nymph tied to a heavily weighted Hair & Copper to get it to depth. A really spectacular fish he was. Two of the three fish were. At the end of the day I got a lift back to my truck from Shane and Eddie from the Athol Hunting & Fishing Club. They were travelling the opposite direction but gave me a lift back anyway. Much appreciated, fellas! Every NZ angler knows the value of a lift back to the truck at the end of a big day on the river. They also gave me a cold beer. Legends.

Day 2 saw me battling the most mental winds I have ever cast into. To be honest, it wasn’t always casting, sometime it was a case of just fuck the flies at the fish. I cant think of a better way to describe it. The wind was gusting to 150kph so you know what I’m on about. The willow trees were roaring and I was always looking around to see if one was about to fall over. There was plenty evidence to support my fears. The good thing about the fish on the day was that they weren’t concerned by my bad casts. The piles of fly-line which I landed beside them for time to time just looked like another willow branch for them to avoid (there were heaps!). With all the movement of bushes and trees from the gales, me and my movements went unnoticed by the trout. I could get very close. Sometimes no fly-line out, just a short leader and tippet and slam the nymph down in front of the fish. Watch for the swing or any evidence of a take and lift the rod. I landed quite a few in the insanity! Good fish too.

My old mate Robbie Mcphee is joining me this weekend!

(as it turns out the weekend is now over and Robbie has gone back to Dunedin. I wrote this on Friday but didn’t get a chance to edit it! We had an amazing weekend with 11 trout between 5 and 10lbs. Watch this space!)

Happy Season everyone..


There are plenty of spaces in my guiding calendar! If you’d like to hire me as a guide, please contact me,

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!



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..

Dunstan is Firing!!

July 28th, 2014 No comments

I’m just back from a weekend on the coast where Iza caught all the fish. Before I talk about that I better mention the action on Lake Dunstan from the previous weekend. I was thinking about going back up to the central lakes but the road was closed to towing vehicles due to ice. That made it easy to make up my mind and fish Dunstan. To my surprise the fishing was excellent! Good action all day long each day. I was blind fishing with buggers around the weed beds from the Wakatipu Anglers Club boat. When the sun came out I had opportunities to jump out of the boat a sight fish the flats. There weren’t many cruisers, but I got 2 or 3 over the 2 days. Blind buggering with the intermediate was the way to go. If you’re in the area get out there!

The West Coast mission will be up later in the week… Its starting to fire over there too… sort of!


Categories: Expedition Tags: ,

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.


James Wilkinson, Photographer Extraordinaire!

July 5th, 2013 2 comments

James Wilkinson is a  photographer and film maker. He is also a keen fly-fisherman and likes to photograph the sport when the opportunity arises. His work has appeared in and on the cover of Flylife magazine. James joined me for a day on Dunstan last weekend. He brought the rod along but the camera was given priority. Fishing was slow at best! I worked hard all day swapping back and forth between a Di5 and a clear intermediate. There were quite a few small fish about but I only landed one fish worth a mention.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable, invigorating day on the water. The cold wind never stopped blowing but we were clothed adequately. We’ll get out again once I find the winter rainbows.

All of the photo’s in this weeks blog are from James. Thanks mate!


This week from SLTV, number 11 in the series.. “Lost” In this episode Paul gets us totally lost in the Tasmanian Western Lakes by insisting that his shortcut would save time… We also learned to bring a proper map and compass next time!! This is worth a watch…

A weekend Fishing Lake Dunstan from the Boat…

May 16th, 2013 No comments

Last weekend I fished Lake Dunstan. The top end of the lake has not fished consistently well this year but last weekend was pretty good. The browns are no longer on the flats, at least not in large numbers but some rainbows have taken their place. This makes sense because browns spawn first and I expect they’re now up river. The rainbows were present in high enough numbers to deliver decent fishing. I used a clear intermediate line with a long 10lb tippet and a wolley bugger. As I drifted off the shallow into the the deeper water I counted the line down a bit. this worked but most were in pretty shallow water. I hooked about the same number of fish each day, on Saturday I landed 6 and on Sunday just one. Three were around 5lbs which were the biggest I’ve had off the lake this season. All but one were rainbows. This is the first time this season that I’ve found rainbows in reasonable numbers. This does not surprise me though, I spent most of my time fishing the shallows which is brown trout territory. To target rainbows on Dunstan one usually needs to fish the deeper water with sinking lines.

This weekend I’ll be deep sea fishing with the lads from work. I’ll bring the fly-rod so I hope an opportunity to use it presents itself!

Please sign this petition to help prevent the worlds largest salmon farm being built off the West Coast of Ireland..

All the best..  Ronan..

This week on SLTV, “Tasmanian Western Lakes part 1″ Paul and I take on a serious 4×4 mission into the Tasmanian Western Lakes. We get stuck before we start but Paul solves the problem while trying not to get stuck in the mud himself! John’s TCR bites the dust, You will hear some fantastic music from the Spa Pikers and most importantly witness some excellent fishing in a truly wild and beautiful (and sometimes cold!) place. This 2 part show is one of my favourites!

A simple approach to fishing large terrestrials.

February 14th, 2013 2 comments

One simple observation I made last weekend was about fishing large dries in calm water. Because the water is calm the fish will see a large fly from a long way off. A good approach for a cruising trout or one on station is not to cast the fly near the fish. Instead cast the fly well to the side of the fish and try to induce him off his lie or beat. The plop from a big fly is often enough to trigger this.  Advantage being the fish is travelling toward your rod tip and therefore the tippet will be on the trout’s blind side of the dryfly. This massively increases the chances of a confident take and a solid hook up.

It was great to fish with Fraser again.. He was unlucky to break in a very big fish at the end of the day. The fish took his dry (as described above) and took off off like a freight train, as he did the line jumped from the ground, around Fraser’s forceps and everything locked up. Simply impossible to put the brakes on a fish like that on his first run. Next time Fraser!

I have no idea what’s on the cards for this weekend… I think I might go a little nuts. It’s in the post.


ps. Good to meet Scott Loudon and Ben! Thanks for the stout…

Also, only 17 subscribers to go until I hit 100 and the prize draw! Get in quick!!