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Posts Tagged ‘Ronan’

The Tekapo Canals…

July 9th, 2014 No comments

15000 escaped salmon certainly attracts anglers! Iza and I went to fish the Tekapo canals near the salmon farms recently. The weather was perfect and there were anglers everywhere. We found our spot in the picket fence on Saturday morning but the fish did not come easy! Bait fishermen were catching a few. Iza’s softbait was not getting much attention and I had to pick my cast with the fly. We walked some of the the canal and got away from the masses. There were clearly a few hot-spots but we chose to have a bit of room to fish freely instead of fighting for position. Just up-stream of the cages there was not an angler to be seen. I walked and stalked from time to time and always saw a few fish, including some of the monsters up to 20lbs but these were never too far from their main food source . The smaller browns, the ones not thriving on fish-farm pellets,  were the ones I most enjoyed targeting. They were tough. Bright sun, glass calm and uniform canal edges meant anything out of the ordinary was noticed by my quarry. There were decent numbers of these 2to 4 lb browns and I have a feeling that this is a virtually unused NZ fishery. I know people fish near the cages for escapees and the pigs of trout that eat pellets, but who walks the edges to sight fish? I’m sure a few do. I will again that’s for sure.

The highlight of the trip was  hearing a loud call from Iza, I turned around thinking (and hoping!) that it was a “I have a fish” call and not a “I’m snagged” call. She was hooked up alright. I ran to her side to help her land whatever she was hooked into. The 5.5 lb salmon jumped repeatedly and fought hard but Iza kept the pressure on and before too long the fish was safely in my net. She has caught a few little fish and lost a big brown at her feet on the Waiau, but this was her first big fish hooked and landed by herself. A great and memorable moment for any angler. Its also some pressure off me!

It needs to be mentioned that these salmon farms are different to those in Ireland, Scotland, Norway and BC. They are contained in inland, man made waterways and do not appear to have any negative impact on wild trout at all. Quite the opposite in fact. Can a lesson be learned here?

Ronan..

Come Hail, Rain or Snow…

May 28th, 2014 No comments

After a very wet week the river options for the weekend were virtually non-existent. It had to be a lake. There are lots to choose from but Mark and I decided on the Frankton arm on Lake Wakatipu. The forecast was for wind, rain (lots of rain) and snow. The Frankton arm is sheltered and even if it does blow up you’re never far from the shore, so with the forecast, it seemed like a safe bet. We picked up the Wakatipu Anglers Club boat and set off for a weekend afloat..

There are 3 main types of water to fish on Lake Wakatipu near Frankton.

1. Shallows, 3 to 6 foot of water.

2. Deeper water, about 6 to 10 foot.

3. Holes, gutters and drop-offs. 10foot plus..

For the first, I set up a rod with a clear intermediate line with a small possum streamer on it. For the 2nd and 3rd I set up the di7 with 11lb flouro and a Glister. The reason for the heavy tippet is the big fly (The Dore’s Mr Glister is quite big, I used a slender size 6), The reason for the big fly is simply to be noticed! A big fly will be seen by more fish in deep water. It may be the case that we got lots of refusals we don’t even know about using this method but I believe the law of averages will prevail and a good number of fish will attack / eat the fly.

As it turned out on day 1, the intermediate line was not used. I started catching fish on the first drift way out on the drop-off and reasonable action continued with the di7. Mark chose the di5 but didn’t get much action. It’s valuable to know that fast sinking lines are not just for fishing deep water. They fish shallower water very efficiently. There is no need to waste any time counting it down, just start stripping. This makes it an extremely versatile line, in that you can effectively fish 5 to 25 foot down without changing lines.

Mark had no luck on day 1 with the di5. He only had a few touches. Partly because he was not comfortable with his chosen rod but mainly because he was not getting down quick enough. I boated 7 with the di7. On day 2 Mark put on the di7 and changed to rod that suited him. We had 4 each. This proves the value of the right rod and line!

The next time I’m out there I have a method in mind to try out. I noticed lots of small smelt / fry in some of the fish. I’d like to tie a few weighted imitations and fish them on a floater or intermediate line. Figure of eight them very slowly over the weeds and wait for the takes. It has to work! I tried a similar method briefly on Sunday afternoon and I got one or 2. Also, there were lots of light brown caddis on the water over the weekend. There were a few fish moving on them on Sunday afternoon but not many. I know my father would have picked up a few with his double nymph rig!

Mark and myself had 2 excellent days afloat. The weather only made it better. The spray from the waves while motoring, the gusts, the cold, the rain, the snow, whatever! It did not matter because we had the clothing for it. It’s that simple!

I was hoping to fish some rivers during this month of May, but for one reason or another it didn’t happen, besides a fruitless few hours on the Clutha. This Saturday is my last chance to fish a river before the river season ends. We’ll see what happens! Wakatipu is calling me back too..

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Later folks..   Ronan..

The Mataura.

May 6th, 2014 6 comments

I realised during my recent 10 day fishing stint that there are 2 distinctly different types of angling which I indulge in here in NZ. One is fishing for fish; the pursuit of incredible looking, usually large, rare specimens. The challenge is in the hunt and the first cast, possibly the only cast of the day. Or it’s in slinging an 8wt di7 from morning till night over a drop-off at a west coast river mouth. The other is fishing for fishing; the pursuit of any feeding fish of almost any size, usually in medium to large numbers. The challenge is in having your fundamentals absolutely right and adapting to keep them right without wasting any time.  It’s easy to get lost in one and forget about the other. I did last season, I got lost in big fish hunting, but if you look at the archives from last March It’s easy see why. I did this season too, but not as much. Probably because there were fewer big fish about. Before my break I realised I was craving some fishing, not hunting, so my 6 days on the Mataura were exactly what I needed… after a quick big fish fix!

The Mataura.

After catching a few fish in a riffle I was happy to stand in the river, watch and wait. 12 noon. An odd fish is moving but I’m not bothering with them. I expect the fish to move properly at about 2. I wait. I stand up on a log to allow my feet to warm up. Waders are essential here, once I walk a few paces from this log there is no place to stand out of the cold river. 1pm. Nothing moving. I’m not moving far, a few paces then back to the relative warmth standing out of the river onto a wobbly log can give. Watching, waiting. Some fish are trying to move but it stops again. 2pm. Nothing moving.. I’m too far from the comfort log now to go back. 2.15pm, a few fish move… lots of fish move. It’s on. Now every cast is to at least one rising fish. I’m casting almost constantly. I resist the urge to walk up passed rising fish to get to more rising fish. I’ll move very slowly and try to have a decent attempt at as many as I possibly can. I’m catching fish. My emerger (or whatever it is) is working well. As many fish as there are moving, each cast needs to be placed in front of a feeding fish. A few inches left or right and my fly will not be seen. I keep casting, keep fishing, keep catching, stay focused… I stop and take a deep breath, a quick glance around, a smirk and back to it. Loving it, utterly engrossed, there is nothing else. This is as good as it gets..

I’ve fished the Mataura from the source almost to the sea. It’s a fabulous river which offers virtually every facet of NZ river fishing. My favourite one of these facets is “the mad Mataura rise”. I’m not the only one!

It was great 10 days off. I fished with 2 great friends, Robbie Mcphee and Mark Adamson. I made a few new friends too at the holiday park in Gore. Russell and John, Great to meet and have the craic with you two. And great to meet and briefly fish with Pat Kennedy on the river. We have some mutual friends. Sometimes the fly fishing world is a small one! Hopefully we’ll cross paths again.

The season is not over yet!

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 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..

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..

To pee, or not to pee!

November 6th, 2013 2 comments

Perched high on a bank, I could see into the entire pool. The sun was out, it had been behind the clouds for a lot of the morning, so I was scoping quickly before the clouds moved in again. The pool was big and varied with depth and cover and my eyes were picking out the most likely lies from the bottom of the pool to the top.. Then I saw him. Cruising an eddy, a really big fish with a green back and pink flanks and fins. I knew it was an incredible fish. The sun highlighted the colour by shining through his fins. Bright pink, a beautiful, unforgettable sight, but was dying for a piss. Before I could take this fish on, I had to go. The excitement made me need to go even more. I’m not sure if that’s normal. With one eye on the fish and the other making sure I missed my waders, I did what I had to do.

Back in the zone, this time fully, I watched the fish as he picked up speed and disappeared into the depths of the pool. His slight acceleration suggested that  he may have been spooked. I was pretty inconspicuous I thought, but sometimes trout just become aware of your presence for no apparent reason. I watched and watched but he did not return. I stud up and started walking on up river and there he was. He had moved out of the main pool and up into a deep riffle at the head. I followed, but quickly lost him. I rushed back to see if he was back in the main pool, but he was not. I went back to the riffle and briefly spotted him again, then lost him. I watched the water for a while more without a sight. I got myself to river level. I peered in but could not see him. There was a 20′ x 10′ section in the riffle where I could not really see into. Instinct told that’s where he was so I sent in a blind cast. I watched my dry carefully as it drifted downstream carrying 2 nymphs under it. I looked upstream to recast but before I took my flies from the water I glanced to where they were. The green back and pink flanks were where my flies should be. I lifted and the rod bent.

The fight was solid. I had to clamber around a large boulder which overhung the deepest part of the pool as the fish took off down stream. I could not hold him so had to follow. Thankfully Jeff was on the other side of the rock to drag me the rest of the way.. “I have you, 100%” he said. After a few more runs Jeff netted him for me. I thought he might crack the mythical 10lb mark, but he fell short by three quarters of a pound. This did not matter. Such a stunning fish I have rarely seen. This trout in my all time top 5. The photo below does him justice! Thanks for the shot Jeff..

Ronan..

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.

Ronan..

The tide that almost took my truck… Twice!

October 23rd, 2013 No comments

Jeff and I hit for the coast early on Saturday morning. There had been a deluge of rain on the coast for a few days so there were no guarantees the rivers or their mouths would be fishable. The weekend forecast was good so we decided to chance it. As expected, the rivers were high and coloured but some were fishable. There were so many whitebaiters about that the coastal fishing looked like it would be pretty annoying with us tripping over them and vice-versa. They have always been very friendly with me and never put out the notion that they own the place so, with respect, we left them to the river mouths and we chose a river.

It was a big, intimidating river; still bulging after the rain but dropping and clearing. There is only one thing to do when faced with such a river and that’s take it on. Don’t waste much time talking about it, just do it.

We took it on with 2 set-ups. Jeff with a streamer, me with a dry-double nymph rig. Before long we spotted one which we did not get. It’s always good just to see a fish in a high, unfamiliar river. It boosts confidence. Not long after I spotted one in tough light, I only just saw the sweep of a tail. I got that fish. Jeff got one in the next pool on a streamer so we were both off the mark. The rest of the day went well. We had a few more fish on all methods, blind and sighted. When we got to a very tough gorge we decided to get out since we simply didn’t know what lay ahead and it was late in the day. We had an hour or 2 on the coast before nightfall after most of the whitebaiters had had enough. Jeff got one bright fish.

One of the my favourite things about the coast is camping with the roar of the ocean and having a raging fire from the abundant driftwood. We drove out to Haast Spit which is just such a location. I have camped here a few times without incident and I expected this time to be the same. On the way to the spot I knew, the track suddenly disappeared. I tried to feel my way around all the debris on the sand but then sank into it! “Bollocks” I said. The sand was grey, damp and in the tidal zone. With the tide rising there was no time waste. With Jeff pushing, and some tactical driving (at least I like to think so!) we got out relatively easily but we were lucky.. It could have been a disaster. A foot to the left and I think we’d have been air-locked into the sand. After that bit of excitement we made it to the camp spot. The sea was roaring and then a full moon broke from the clouds.. I had a moment where I though we should leave. With a spring tide approaching (which I did not notice when I checked the tide times) and the strong on shore wind, something didn’t feel right. I’ve learned something about myself over the years. The reason I take an odd risk is to see if I’ll get caught, and if I do, what will the consequences be?.. this is sort of in my subconscious and I’ve only recently learned it. It’s like something else takes control, giggling as it does so. I put my hesitation aside as I got the fire going and Jeff pitched his tent.

The rain came in hard and the wind blew, but the fire was hot and the beer was cold so we were happy. We were relaxed, chatting about the day and life in general when a wave broke a little close for comfort.. I shone the lights of the car which was facing out to sea. “Fuck” I said. The tide was close and the waves were big and messy. By my reckoning the tide was still an hour from full. Should we flee now? No, We’ll wait a while anyway (giggling inside). I got up to photograph a wave which skirted our camp but instead I ran and jumped onto the spare wheel on the back of the truck as a wave crashed through our camp. It hit the truck, the tent and almost put the fire out. Okay, now I was worried, we were worried. Looking behind us the tide was on the other side of the spit. we were almost surrounded by water. There was probably a route out through the driftwood but we decided to stay. We were on a relatively high point. We’d see it out. Many more waves crashed near camp. We sat on the bonnet facing the sea and watched on high alert, and waited. “I think were out of the woods now”  was said many times but the truth was that we weren’t. The tide was high and very close to camp for hours. It seemed like forever. We weren’t out of the woods. Another wave went through the camp about an hour after the first and another after that. If we were parked farther down the beach things would have been worse.. I might have had to try to get out. Our saving grace was the fact that I knew roughly when high tide was, but it all could not have been any closer! We were lucky too..

Finally the tide receded, the rain stopped and  the wind died. We polished of the box of beer, high on adrenaline and life with a cranking fire and a bright moon..

Day 2 on the river was much like day 1.

Ronan..

10 Trout, 10 Kahawai and a Stargazer.. South Westland!

September 6th, 2013 2 comments

I could not resist the urge to go back to the coast for another mission. After an epic, full on Saturday catching 3 species I set up camp on a wild South Westland beach. Just myself, the sound of crashing waves, a roaring fire and a few beers under the stars. No better way to spend an evening! A whitebaiter woke me in the morning. He opened the truck to see if I was inside because he was worried by the sight of my vacant camp chair and smouldering fire. “I though you might have been washed out to sea” he said! We chatted for a bit, me still stretched in the back of my truck, and him leaning in the door. The whitebait season had opened an hour before at 6am. Shortly after our chat I got up and took on the day. Waking up exactly where you want to fish is always sort of magical for a fisherman.

The tide was going  out in the morning and fished pretty well but I was banking on the flowing tide to produce the best results like it did the day before. I had planned on taking a sea-trout and a kahawai home but it was not to be! Nothing happened after the tide turned so I went home empty handed! I’m curious to see what these sea / estuarine  trout are like to eat. The 2 days were completely different. I would have put money on the Kahawai coming back on the flowing tide but they didn’t. There are no guarantees in fly-fishing.

The fishing and whole wild experience was great as always! It fired at different times each day making it hard to nail down. Watching the place come alive with Kahawai was pretty cool. They were the biggest I’ve encountered. 10 trout, 10 kahawai and a stargazer (what a cool little fish he was!) in total. All the kahawai bar one were 5lb plus. My best brown was about 5lbs too. I didn’t get many trout pics because I caught most of them in the surf. No place to set up the camera and timer and I didn’t want to take the fish too far from the water.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow!

Ronan..