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Posts Tagged ‘Manic Tackle Project’

High-Country Dams..

February 13th, 2021 No comments

The more I fish the high-country dams the more I love them. Like any good fishery they’re not easy. They can be incredibly dour in fact. Many anglers only go up there during high summer in the hope of being there when the cicadas emerge and get blown onto the water. In my experience this rarely actually happens.

When Dad and I used to travel around the South Island every year or so, we would always include the dams. Dad was always over for the month of November. We never had any dry fly action over that time, but it can happen. I was happy walking shoreline stripping buggers and dad liked moving more slowly fishing two of his PT nymphs or buzzers with the figure of 8 retrieve. Both methods worked. For me these dams are blind fisheries. Only during perfect sighting conditions might you sight a fish. Fishing to rising trout is always on the cards with a plethora of terrestrial insects included in the trouts diet, caddis and chironomid too. Whatever is happening, be prepared to blind fish. I think this is why dad and I both love it. Coming from a lakes background in Ireland we had to blind fish – that’s all we did. But as I’ve said many times blind fishing is not chuck and chance. Every cast is considered, we look for something fishy; weeds, structure, drop-offs, points, bays, rocks, shallows etc.

Once you get into the groove of your chosen method you just have to have faith and persist until something tells you otherwise. The reasons I still use my possum / marabou bugger as my go-to blind fishing method is: 1, The trout feed a lot on fry. 2 They feed on Koura and a bugger is a good representation of this too. 3, I can cover a lot of water quickly. 4, The trout are very opportunist. I occasionally take a fish for the table. When checking the stomach contents there are usually multiple different food items in there. Commonly, for example, loads of caddis with one fry or loads of corixa with one koura. This tells me that they won’t pass up a bugger! These dams offer trout the largest range of food of any fishery I know. Because of this, my guess is that when the dams appear to be dead, they’re not! The fish just out of our reach for whether it be physical or otherwise.

I fish my bugger on a floating line with a long leader so that I can count it down if I need to. Also, so that if fish start taking dries I can quickly change over. Sometimes in shallow bays I’ll blind fish nymphs instead of a bugger or if its calm I’ll sometimes do the same. If you are lucky enough to be there when the trout are looking up then its simply magic. I’ve only really experienced it once. I was with Justin and Dan from Big Sky Anglers in Montana. Day 7 of 7 – the dream finale!

On a personal level, fishing these dams are very similar to fishing Corrib or Mask back home. The dark water, the wind, the rocks, the drift if I’m in a boat, the sounds and smells, the blind fishing aspect, the memories. Without doubt this is a huge part of the reason I love fishing them. The common methods are very similar indeed – nymphing (PTs, caddis or buzzers), dries (sometimes 2 or even 3 dries), Wets – I strip buggers instead of wets but these are fisheries where lough style can and does work. Another thing I love on some of the dams is the quality of the browns. They can be some of the most beautiful on the planet. Every time I hook one I get excited to see what he / she looks like. I guess finally, they’re all just stunning places to spend a day. They’re all quite similar but with their own characteristics. I never go up there expecting to catch lots, they can always kick my arse. I’m happy if I get a fish or 2 and I’ll work hard to get them.

BOB’S BIRTHDAY

Bob has been on here many times over the years, so if you’re a regular reader you’ll know he’s my oldest friend in NZ, not because of his age, he’s the person I’ve known here right from the start. We try to catch up for a fish a few times a season and for the past 4 years we always fish for his birthday. He jokes that he must catch a fish to make it to his next birthday. We got the Birthday fish on day one at the very end of the day. It was tough – fish just not responding but we did it in the end with a lovely 5lb brown. Day 2 we went to the dams. I did well with my P/M bugger. Bob stuck with his dries hoping for that magic take which never came. Guy was with us too. My second oldest friend in NZ. Bob introduced me to Guy, so I love it when the 3 of us catch up. It’s becoming tradition now that Guy joins us for day 2 of Bob’s birthday fishing expedition. Happy Birthday, Bob! Looking forward to the next one.

I’ve been reasonably busy at times with guiding thank feck. Happy clients, plenty trout. There’s a few bookings coming in but please do get in touch if you’d like to set up a trip or if you have any questions. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Here is a link to my nymph patterns available at Fulling Mill. They’ve been doing great this season! Also getting some great feedback which is always nice to hear. I have one box of my own patterns from Fulling Mill, and they cover me for pretty much all my river nymphing needs.

Tight lines, Ronan..

Balance…

December 6th, 2020 No comments

I have to say, I’m enjoying this season. I should be fretting over a lack of business but I’m not. I’m getting an occasional guide day and my wife Iza is working full time. We’re doing okay. We’re lucky, and I’m thankful for that. I’m looking after the kids most days but also managing to get out fishing regularly – especially now that Iza’s recent study has ended, a bit more time for me to fish. It’s a juggling act between kids, Iza’s work and free time, working on the house, family time, friends, guiding and fishing. The balance is good. I’m making the most of this season without tourists. It’s made me rethink what’s important. So much so that I might just reduce my guide days to make more time for family in the future. My goal in life is not to be financially rich – it’s to be rich with the important stuff.

This season has been really great. I have explored some new water and while I want to do more exploring, I realised something. I love going back to the water I know. I need to see the water I know at least once or twice a season. I don’t mind if I don’t catch a fish, I just need to see the water – it’s like catching up with an old friend. I like to see if the river has changed, are the fish in the usual spots, what more can I learn about it. Now that I’ve realised this I’m okay with it. Some days I felt a bit guilty for not exploring when I could have been. Exploring new water is certainly exciting. And while I have made peace with going back to fish familiar water I will always have the drive to find new water. Like life in general, its about balance.

The season to date has had a number of highlights. I’ll let the images tell the story about most of these but I will mention one. A day that I was guiding a half day, I went fishing myself for the second half. I hooked an 8lb trout for my client in the morning. He was about 12. He played it well and we got it into the net. In the afternoon I ventured off myself. I saw only one trout in 4kms which I didn’t get. Then I saw 2 in a pool. I was rigged up with one of my guide rods – a 5wt Airflo Blade with a Lamson Liquid reel. I hooked the first one quickly and landed it downstream. I knew it was big. I was thrilled to see it hit the magical 10lb increment on my weigh net. I went back up to the pool again and the other fish was still there, still active. There was a brutal crosswind and I had to cast way left of the target to compensate for the wind. It took a few attempts which luckily didn’t spook the fish. He sitting quite deep. Finally the dry went down and I lifted into serious weight. I landed this one in the same spot as the first. He hit the scales at 12lbs. This is equal to my biggest trout to date. 3 browns for 30lbs. I’ve never done that before. 2 doubles, thats also a first. First time I’ve witnessed it since my good friend Kristian Bang Foss landed a 10.25 and a 10.75 (and a 9) back in 2013. I’m happy if I can land one over 10 for a season so this day was certainly one of those never to be forgotton. Needless to say I was delighted. Also happy to get a great shot with the 10 second timer – my size 12 Brown Nymph from Fulling Mill visible in his mouth.

If anybody is reading this from within NZ and would like to experience some guided fly fishing, feel free to drop me a line.. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines! Ronan..