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Posts Tagged ‘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..

 

Where is the core?

July 31st, 2013 No comments

I think if I lived in any other part of the western world with incredible fly-fishing on my doorstep, there would be a core group of hardcore anglers who simply live to fish. Here in the the southern lakes region of NZ there are not many. There are guides who love their game but fish only a few days in winter, and in summer have little time to fish themselves, some keen anglers have other priorities such as family and skiing in the winter months, some just talk about it but rarely actually fish hard at all, I don’t see many young people getting into the game; these people should be the back bone of the sport but they are few and far between. The clubs seem to lack youth, though not due to lack of trying, and this is a shame. I find it hard to believe that in a place like this I don’t know a single person who fishes as much as I do. (If Jeff was here that would not be true!!) Imagine as a skier or snowboarder having every mountain to yourself every time you go out. That’s pretty much how it is for me throughout the winter months on the lakes. It was the same last year. This is a fun, exciting sport but it needs an injection of new life and some fresh thinking…. That, or just keep it for those who are currently involved. There’s an argument for both I guess.

All that said, I’m meeting up with the Canterbury Fly Fishing Club in a few weeks for a weekend on the Central Lakes and I’m really looking forward to that. I’m excited to see their approach to the water and how it differs from mine.

Last weekend I was hoping for bigger and better things but the lake fished reasonably well. I picked up a dozen or so fish over the 2 days, the best about 2.5lbs. They were all well marked and brightly coloured and a mix of browns and rainbows. The weather was good and unseasonably warm. There are not many places in the world where you can fish in the middle of a built up area with planes taking off over you all day, jet boats whizzing passed and numerous other water users about and still catch plenty fish. This is a truly superb place for a fly-fisherman.

I put my back out badly at work on Monday so I think I’ll be out of action this weekend.

Go have a winter fish! Ronan..

This week on SLTV, Backcountry Fjordland part 2. Sean, Fraser, Paul and I take on some wilderness for a few days. We all get some sort of bug on different days but manage plenty excellent fishing. Some great footage of fish eating dries in this episode and some great Blue Duck footage too.

Take it to the limit…

July 23rd, 2013 No comments

Last weekend I took on the mass of water that is Lake Wakatipu once again. It is a massive body of water at 80ks long and averaging 230m deep, 420m at the deepest point. Like all the Southern Lakes it demands respect. That’s not to say a fella can’t enjoy tearing along a trough, and then powering up and over a crest into another trough. At the end of day one, crossing back through the rolling swells was really exciting. Looking ahead, reading the waves and planning my route based on what I could see and feel all at 50kph. I could not photograph or film it because I needed both hands on the wheel and throttle. I’m sure I was having as much fun as the folks sliding down mountains..

I had 13 fish over 2 days. Day one was pretty choppy and the conditions cut my day a bit short. Day 2 I got out earlier and finished later. I had to deal with a sloppy wave at first caused by multiple wind directions. Once I got across the lake the water was pretty peaceful and the exploring began. I basically fished the mouth of every trickle, stream and river that I found. Most produced a fish or two. Tactics were simple; a Di7 with a weighted streamer fished over the drop-off. If I didn’t hook up very quickly I’d leave again in search of another mouth. The wind was dropping all day and the temperature was rising. It was a fantastic day on the water and I made the most of it. I checked the topo map at the end of the day to see how far I roamed, about 85ks! Now I know a full tank will get me about 86ks. Good to know.

I have a different plan for next weekend. More new water. Watch this space, I think something great will be in it!

Congratulations to my Dad, Joe Creane, on winning the McConville Cup on Bilberry in Co. Mayo recently. There are not many that will worry him on an Irish lough, and that’s a fact!

Tight lines all..  Ronan..

This week on SLTV, Ep 13. Backcountry Fjordland. In this episode Chris Dore gets married (Paul and I are groomsmen), we all get drunk a few times and we catch lots of fish.. even while hung over! Seriously though, some good footage in this!

“I’ll Fuckin Ram You”

June 6th, 2013 No comments

Mark and I were about 100m off the shore, drifting parallel to it and toward a heavy weed bed about 150m away. I noticed two anglers on the shore with their boat pulled up. They put in after we passed them by and started trolling down the shore. They were also heading for the weed bed which ran from the shore out into the lake across the line of our drift. My intention was to drift as far as the weeds with the most likely water being close to the weeds. The trollers were moving tight to the shore and as they got to the weeds before us they changed their course to follow them. I wondered when they would pull out to the back of us. They didn’t. They held their course and cut our drift about 10m in front of us. I reeled up. I was going to say something but thought, no, no big deal, they have no idea of lake etiquette, I’ll just leave it at that. We were clearly drifting. My engine was off and pulled up so a boat under power should give way, that is the rule. I let my boat drift close to the weeds before dropping the engine down to shallow drive to back out. Too late as it turned because I got the boat stuck in the weeds! While trying to back out the trollers started roaring back to us saying I cut their lines with my prop! They turned around to come back for a fight or whatever. I was looking forward to the argument because they were so much in the wrong. They came alongside us shouting like fools and I told them they crossed our drift, One of the lads tried to retort but Mark fired up and in no uncertain terms told him where to go. At this he said “I’ll fuckin ram you” and he roared off out in a circle with his 135hp engine and came back to ram us. My engine was ticking over and only for I pulled the bow around he would have hit us. He missed by an inch or 2. Mark was up on the bow (casting platform) at the time and as their boat passed at pace we were left sloshing in the white water behind the engine. Almost immediately after this idiotic act they left the lake. Maybe they had no more spinners. I was pleased to find my tires were not slashed when we decided to leave. We caught half a dozen fish.

Ronan..

This is my personal favourite episode from the SLTV series.. There is drama, broken trucks, broken engines, the world famous Peter Hayes, Hair, Oil, Fish, Mayhem, Wind, Rain, Casting…. It’s all happening in this episode.. Enjoy!