Posts Tagged ‘Robbie Mcphee’

The Elusive, Almost Mythical 10lb Brown Trout…

October 20th, 2015 No comments

During a mission to North Canterbury with Jeff Forsee at the end of last season, I witnessed something that made me re-think what I thought I knew. Jeff was onto a fish on his bank, a big one. The fish was deep. Jeff persisted with a range of weighted nymphs until he had the heaviest one in his box on, with the little trailer off it. He felt he was not getting deep enough so he pulled out a box of split shot and added some weight, then a little more weight. I’m not sure just how much shot he added but eventually he hooked the fish. A long battle was ensued but we finally got it into the net. That fish was one of the most spectacular fish I’ve seen and it turned out to be Jeff’s personal best. Afterwards, I thought to myself “would I have caught that fish?”. The answer, probably not. I had no split shot and my heaviest nymph was the same as Jeff’s. The only time I ever used shot was in Croatia years ago because of their single fly policy. I thought I had no need for it. I remember Paul Arden talking about split shot for early season NZ fish. I simply thought “just tie a heavier nymph”, which is true but split shot is handy, quick and easy to add and there’s no limit to how much you can put on (within reason!). I had to see this in action to really see the value of it. Shortly after that trip I got some split shot.

Recently, in Otago, about half way through a great day, I sighted a large trout happily feeding. He was moving from shallow to deep water feeding constantly. After a number of careful casts the fish became aware of my presence. He went a little doggo but then continued to feed, this time in deep water only. This gave me a great and rare advantage. The fish continued to feed despite my presence. I could not spook him easily so I cast and cast and cast. As long as a fish is feeding he’s catchable so I persisted. I put on my heaviest nymph, then added lead, then more lead. The river was boiling and up-welling making it hard to get even a heavily weighted rig down, but once in a while, as Robbie pointed out, the current went “clean”, no up-welling. At one of those moments I placed the cast in the right place and the added weight got my fly into the zone. The fish ate. I knew It was a big fish, I’ve caught lots of 9s and this felt just plain heavier. I gave him stick none the less and eventually landed him with Robbie’s help on the net. There were a few unnerving moments as he went under banks and around rocks but we landed him. 10lbs on the dot (Though Robbie thinks he was more, despite the weigh-net!). Thanks, Jeff for the lesson in lead and Robbie for the help landing one of my personal best brown trout.. Finally we cracked a double together!

Tight Lines All..


If your planning a trip to NZ, why not get in touch with me! I’m available to guide and happy to answer any questions you may have..


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,

A Great Season Ends With Exciting Prospects..

May 18th, 2015 No comments

Another river season has come to an end. Many rivers are still open in May but I find myself looking toward other options -  lakes, river mouths, the canals or possibly the West Coast. Prior to a recent mission to the canals I did a little research on surrounding lakes, tarns and rivers to see if any remained open in May. As it turned out, all were closed since April 30th but it gave me lots of new ideas for next season. I’m actually pretty excited about it. There are some spring creeks, tarns and rivers that I’ve never fished, new territory to explore and some of it is not too far away. That’s one of the amazing things about this country; waterways in abundance and always something new to check out if you make the time to explore. Try something new instead of the tried and trusted.

Mark Adamson, Robbie Mcphee and myself finished off the brown trout season with a 3 day mission on a river we all enjoy. The fish were difficult, not really looking at our offerings at all but we all managed a few fish. We had a fantastic hut to stay in and the craic between the 3 of us in the evenings was as good as the fishing. I had a bad cold to deal with and deal with it I did with a few hot whiskeys. Mark had a couple too just because they’re a great drink to warm up the bones after a cold day on the river. The story of our trip is told in the photos below.

The lakes in central are fishing well! Iza and I had a great trip there 2 weeks ago. We had plenty cruising rainbows to fish for in certain spots and browns in others. I got my fathers buzzers working on Benmore too which is always a pleasure. It’s a very underrated, or more to the point, unknown way to catch trout here in NZ. When they work, they really work!

Finally, Trevor Bourne, a long time sexylooper has just moved to Wanaka from the UK to build Epic fly rods for Carl Mcneil. you’ll be seeing more of him up here. An all round good bugger and great angler. Welcome Trevor! And Happy Birthday..

Tight lines.. Winter is not closed season, its just the winter season!


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Me and Robbie Mcphee.

April 28th, 2015 No comments

As the rain got heavier the steep track from the hut was looking increasingly foreboding. I was trying to politely rush Robbie along, “Oh, your waiting on me are you?” he said, relaxed, as always. “We better move or we wont get up the hill” I said. We left the hut, wipers on full, low range gear box engaged. With only a couple of minor slips we were up the hill and onto the plateau. Relieved to be over that hurdle, we continued. The farm track had turned to mud and was as slippery as all fuck. The only option was to drive out at a snails pace. This I did. To err on the side of caution I stayed on the side of the track that didn’t have a 300m drop on it. This lead me to slipping off into a ditch. We got out of the truck into the pissing rain and gathered what rocks we could find to wedge under the wheels. After about 30 miserable minutes getting soaked and straining my back lifting big rocks, we got the truck out of the ditch and continued. Sitting in the truck, soaked, back hurting, I just wanted to get out of the place. Robbie briefly had the same idea but shortly after he said “Well, were here to fish, aren’t we?”. That we were! The words hardly left his mouth when we slipped off the track again, a sudden jolt into the ditch. I turned to Robbie to see if he was okay, he looked a bit shook with a mark on his forehead and the rear view mirror had turned around. He was getting a little whiter and his head hurt a bit but he was fine. Due to the decline in the track the truck popped out of this one no worries at all. Another kilometre or 2 down the track we were at a good point to drop into the river to fish a favourite pool of ours. We gathered some motivation, put on some dry clothes and started the long and steep decent through terraced hillside, beech forest and into a gorge. On arrival, the river was clear but the rain kept coming. We knew our time was limited, the river was bound to blow out. We saw 2 trout, Robbie got one and I got the other. Then at the head of the pool I saw another. As I fished to him he became harder and harder to see as the river got dirtier. He made four pretty full on but failed attacks at my streamer and then fecked off. It was time we did too, we did not want to get stuck on the wrong side of the rapidly rising river! I took a few quick blind shots up into the head of the pool with a heavily weighted streamer, got a cracking 7lber and then we left the gorge. We climbed back up the mountainside to the truck. On the drive out we had no more slips and managed to fish for another couple of hours when we got to the safety of the non-gorge.

The Hilux has been through the mill lately. 4x4ing is certainly something one gets better at. Like anything, when you have nobody to teach you the learning curve is not very steep! I think I need full on mud tires instead of my All Terrain ones. Also dif-lock, a winch, a snorkel, some proper tow ropes and as Robbie advised, a lesson! I’ll keep trying and hopefully I wont kill the truck doing it.




The Piscatorial Pot…

February 24th, 2015 No comments


          1. Of or relating to fish or fishing

          2. Involved in or dependent on fishing

Months ago I agreed to run one of our fishing club events. Mike had an idea that there needed to be more events close to home so Lake Dunstan seemed perfect. It’s my home water so I was happy to organise it. I was unsure of what to do to make the day unique and enjoyable so I thought back to some Irish competitions. I had never fished the “Piscatorial Pot” on Lough Corrib but always wanted to. Both my father and John O Malley won it recently which may have helped it spring to mind.  I decided to steal that idea but needed a little more…  The Irish angling legend, Jackie Coyne, runs a competition on Lough Roisin Dubh at the end of every fishing season. Over the course of the day every angler gets an hour in a lakeboat. I also decided to adopt that idea and a new competition was born. The Piscatorial Pot (NZ).

A scrap of Macrocarpa with the lettering freehand routed into it made the base. A little stain, oil and rustication for effect. 10 minutes on ebay and I had a piss pot. Put them together and we have a perpetual pis-pot.

There were not too many fish caught over the day but Colin Kelly managed a solid fish of 3.25lbs making him the winner. James Waggett was not too far behind with a 2.5lber. Colin has been a member of the club for years and is never afraid to put in the hard yards. Spin gear or fly, kayak or bank, river or lake, Colin will be there in the thick of it. I was happy to present him with The Piscatorial Pot.. though, I’m not so sure that he was as happy to receive it!!!

We all had a great day on the water. Afterwards we enjoyed the craic, good food and beer or two.

Cicada Time

Right now it’s cicada time here in NZ. Some hatch from forests, some from barren grasslands, some are very big, some are quite small but trout love ‘em all. On Saturday Iza and I took out the Wakatipu Anglers Club boat to fish a piece of shoreline on Lake Wakatipu that has treated me well over the years. Conditions were good. We had a breeze which varied in strength but was fairly consistent and able to push a few bugs onto the water. I drove the boat into quite a big chop to get to the area we wanted to fish. I set the boat up for kilometres of shore drift, an occasional pull-start to keep us tight to the shore and we were fishing. Iza quickly hooked and lost a really good fish by this shores standards, about 3lbs. Shortly after she hooked and landed one… then another.. then another and so it continued until she had 11! Casting, striking and playing fish all nicely in tune. By 4pm we got off the lake, the wind was shifting all over the place, dropping and gusting and the rain was bucketing down. We finished with 18.. (yes, she out-fished me!)

Something interesting to note for our day afloat was that we did not see a single cicada on the wing or in the water all day. Neither did we see any trout free-rising yet we landed 18, all on chunky dry cicadas. The takes were all confident sips, no slashes or smashes and easily missed in the wave.. On a few occasions I didn’t see the rise until it was as big as a dinner plate, some Iza didn’t see until her rod was bent. This is not an unusual phenomenon. I remember fishing with my father, Joe Creane, on Lough Corrib years ago. Mayfly time but no fly on the water and nothing rising. 10 boats in the bay catching very few, all stripping wets. Dad and I had 13 on dries (most on a size 10 adams). It’s not the first time I’ve seen this in NZ either. Fly on the water or not, trout will recognise a large dry as food at certain times of year.. It might be worth fishing one in October or any time for that matter! I bet you’d be pleasantly surprised..

That’s it for now.. If you want to win The Piscatorial Pot, Join the club.. The Wakatipu Anglers Club that is..


Iza’s First Fish On Fly…

October 31st, 2014 No comments

So much time has elapsed since my last blog that I don’t know where to start! I’ve had 8 days on the water since writing and I don’t have the energy to write about it all. There were a number of highlights; some big fish, some stunning fish, fishing with Robie, fishing with Iza..

The best bit was coaching Iza on to her first fish on fly. We fished together on the secret dam on a Saturday with very mixed weather. mostly rainy and cold! She hooked a fish or 2 but didn’t land any. She did hook and land a fish but I made the cast. valuable fish playing practice none the less..

On Sunday we fished a local tributary of the Clutha. We fished from the confluence up. Not too far up I spotted a trout happily feeding in the eye of a pool. The water was swirling around so a drag free drift was difficult to achieve. Iza could see the fish from time to time so she knew where her fly needed to land to drift into the trouts lair. All the hours spent practising on lawn and water kicked in and she was sending in consistently decent shots. Eventually he ate. I saw the dry above the nymph check but I wasn’t sure if it was an eat, Iza noticed the dry stop too but struck without hesitation and hooked the fish. She played it well and when I fumbled with the net she dragged it up onto the bank. So I had dam all part to play in her first fish! She did it all from strike to land.. I put the fish in the net while I got my camera out to record this special moment. I left the net down and stepped away then turned around to take the photo. As I did I saw the trout zoom out of the net towards freedom! It was disappointing not to get a photo but it was great fishing event!!

Robbie Mcphee and myself fished together for a few great days last weekend. Iza joined us on the last one and she got a lovely 4lber in the first pool. This time the photo was a success! Cheers Robbie! She also hooked and lost one of about 6lbs so its all starting to happen for her…

I remember my first fish, I’ve guided many onto their first fish on fly.. Some close friends, Nigel, Tom, Fuzz, Jamie, Nico, Irene, Adam, spring to mind.. Justin, Eamonn, Kevin.. Have another go!! Its a special moment.. It was for me anyway!

The stories from the the other missions will have to be told in photos!


PS. Submissions to stop the “round the mountain cycle trail” ruining the upper Oreti valley must be in by the 3rd. All info here..


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.


A more careful approach…

November 1st, 2013 No comments

Robbie Mcphee and myself have a similar physical approach to a river. We go hard all day and try to see as much country as we can, fishing as we go. On the rivers where the going is difficult with obstacles such as boulders, gorges, cliffs and whatever else we tend to take them on without much thought. Big jumps, risky climbs and generally launching ourselves at the obstacle is the order of the day, especially if there is a fish in sight. Every day has it’s tumbles and we usually have a bruise or a scratch at the end of the day. On Saturday, as Robbie launched himself into position to take on a fish, he slipped and banged his knee, just like he did “100 times before”. He knew he did some damage but continued. We climbed over a steep hill to access more water and by the time we got back down the other side Robbie’s knee was a lot worse. We continued, but not for much longer. The pain became too much to bare so we had to get out. We had to climb to a nearby road and by this time the pain was excruciating. I went and got the truck as Robbie waited for me in a cave and tried to stay warm on a cold and wet day. By then walking was all but impossible. I took him to A&E in Gore where he was x-rayed. No brake. That was almost a week ago and he and his doctor are still trying to figure out the problem. I’m going to take a lesson from this. Less jumps, My knees are still good but not perfect so I’ll try to keep them that way. I will generally take more care on the rivers. That’s the plan anyway.

Day 1, Fishing with Robbie. A red letter morning! Heaps of fish out feeding and we caught 13.

Day 2, Fishing the secret dam with Kevin. We had 7, Some amazing moments with superb fish.

Day 3, Fishing alone. I wanted to see what Robbie and I missed out on on Saturday. I had 8 but only one after where we finished.

Another weekend has just landed and I have no plan as yet.. Beer maybe.


Two 10lb plus Trout…

March 27th, 2013 4 comments

Fishing for really big trout is an addiction. There are lots of options available to me but at the moment I’m targeting big fish at a few locations. I cant help myself! For Easter the plan is a little different. Jeff Forsee and I are heading into fjordland. We are unlikely to find fish of the size and calibre you’ve been seeing and reading about in my recent reports but who knows, there are a few big fish in there. Big fish is not the purpose anyway. It’s about getting into the wilderness for a few days and making the most of what ever opportunities we get. Fjordland is good for the soul.

The weekend gone by was another epic one. Kristian and I got ourselves organised on Saturday for 3 days in the wild fishing with packs on. The idea being that we fish until we’ve had enough and then make camp where ever that is, we then continue from there the next day. This is a great way to explore but the walk out after a few days fishing  can be really tough!

We had Saturday evening, all day Sunday and Monday morning to fish. I got a 9.5lb stunning red trout on arrival on Saturday. First cast actually! That was it.

Saturday was different. While Kristian was cooking some breakfast and I was contemplating the day ahead I noticed a sprightly individual moving at pace up river. In no time he was at our camp. It was Robbie Mcphee. At the speed he was moving I expected it would be!  These can be awkward situations. How do we all divide up the river? Robbie and I met once before so that made this chance situation a little easier. We chatted for a while and decided we would fish together! Once we got our gear packed away we got to it. We went shot for shot. In the early part of the day we basically had 3 chances each. I landed one 6lber, lost a really big fish and broke in a small fish. Robbie landed 2 close on 9lbs. Kristian landed an 8.5lber, a 10.25lber and a 10.75lber. I’ve only had one over 10 in all my years here.

We had a few more shots in the afternoon but only landed a couple. I had both, some redemption from my morning efforts! They were both very memorable fish; the first, Kristian had the first shot but snagged a rock, then Robbie had a go but snagged a tree, then I took my shot and sent my fly into the zone and got the fish. I learned from my 2 predecessors and took up a better position. The other fish was from a very deep pool where i let my single size 14 nymph sink to the bottom. I watched the fish cruise near where I expected the fly to be and struck at the sight of a mouth flash. It was a satisfying moment when everything went tight! That fish was about 7.5lbs.

It was Kristians day. 2 over 10? That does not happen every day. Well done man!

The next day was nothing to write home about but all up it was a mission I’ll never forget. I know Kristian and Robbie wont forget it either. Robbie and I will fish together again soon, I look forward to that.

The winner of my competition from my first 100 subscribers is Eadaoin Ni Bhraoin, subscriber number 31! Congratulations to you Eadaoin, 2 return tickets to NZ in the post, sorry, no, 2 dvd’s!

Finally, This week on SLTV, My introduction to the series. This is the first of a 3 part show from Fjordland. In this show you will see the best footage of the hell that can be sand-flies ever filmed! Also some fish and some new characters…

I’m exhausted! This weeks report might seem a bit thrown together.. I wont get another chance to write it though because Easter and a new adventure starts after work tomorrow. Good night!

Stuntman Ronan..

ps. To view the images full size click it, then click it again when the thumbnail appears, and again to enlarge it even more!!. Wordprees made a change and I cant go back to the old way. Very annoying.

SLTV- “Ronan Creane – Day 1″