It’s Been a Good Winter!

July 18th, 2022 No comments

So far, this has been a good winter season. The Clutha has been the best in a few years. Still not great but way better than the last 2 winters – which were shite. That’s encouraging. Most days out have produced some decent results but the big fish are still nowhere to be seen. I believe the larger fish (5.5lb plus) are running as early as March and by the time me and the other winter anglers get to the river in May, they’re nowhere to be seen. If you don’t hit these fish on the run, it seems we’re not likely to get a shot at them at all. That’s my take on it anyway.

Myself and Jeff did our thing with Nick Reygaert in another episode of Pure Fly NZ. It’s always great to take on an episode with Nick and Jeff. We just go fishing – and often somewhere totally new! All the fun of fishing is still there, even with a camera on us. There’s no pressure – we just let it happen and it generally does. I guess there’s been a learning curve to get to this stage. You can’t force it – the harder you try, the less likely you are of getting a good result (I had to learn this – Nick already knew of course!!). It seems to be one of the few times in a season where Jeff and I actually fish together so that’s another bonus. I’m looking forward to seeing what Nick comes up with after the edit. I won’t give too much away but we certainly kept the best til last!

It’s been a great winter to catch up some good friends on the water too. I’ve had some cracking days out with Wesley, Conor, Matt and Chris. The results are well documented in the photos below.

In other news, I’ve been laid up for a while with a pretty bad injury. Recovery will take a while and fishing will have to wait at least another week or 10 days. I also have covid but to my great surprise I’m almost completely asymptomatic. After 2 dreadful flus this winter, I expected covid to kick my arse, but it didn’t – so I’ll take that bit of luck!

That’s all for now. Feel free to get in touch about winter guiding or trips next season. Contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Here is a link to my fly patterns on Fulling Mill and this is my latest piece for the their blog.

Tight lines.. Ronan..

Buggers!

June 28th, 2022 No comments

I never seem to have enough buggers. They’ve always been a fly which I tie the night before a trip, so at best, I’ll have 6 nice ones in my box – but I’ve often been reduced thrashed old shite. They’re such a useful fly and can be fished anywhere, so finally, I bit the bullet and set out to tie a box of them. Although, initially that wasn’t my intention – I started by tying a few for a friend, then a few for me – then, when a bad cold went through the house, I found myself with time to tie and a new fly-box to fill. What I ended up with was a box of about 120 buggers from size 12 with 2.4mm beads up to size 6 with 4.6mm beads – all on Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight hooks. I generally like to avoid starkly contrasting colours but since I was tying a comprehensive collection I tied a bit of everything. They’re all tied with possum bodies and marabou tails. I’ve been using this combination for many years now and I find it to be excellent. Rabbit is also very good in the body, but years ago I lucked onto a load of possum in lots of colours and that’s really what set this combination in stone – I had lots of it, and it worked. I don’t add much bling or rubber legs, just one or two strands of flashy stuff on each side or none at all. Of course they’re far from the original pattern. No chenille, no palmered hackle but if a fly has a marabou tail then it’s in the bugger family.

Last weekend I put them to the test. Myself and Brayden went to Mackenzie Country for a couple of days on the lakes – both of us trying to shake off a cold. Day one would have been good but there were 5 other anglers on the lake which made it harder to find good water. We got a few fish none the less, we just had to work a bit harder to get them. The scenery was really spectacular though. In winter, the snow really shows you just how big and dramatic these mountainous valleys are. My eyes were regularly taken off the water to enjoy the scenes. At the end of the day a couple of hot whiskeys were most welcome!

Day 2 – Fog! The fog never left the water all day. This was a bit frustrating because the skies were clear above it and sun was trying unsuccessfully to break through all day. There were a few fish cruising the edges in the morning but they were just hard enough to see to make them very difficult to approach. We worked hard to land a couple for the day and we covered lots of lake edge to get them. June on the lakes is generally hard because the majority of fish are up the rivers spawning. I don’t mind that it’s tough. There are still enough fish about to make for a good days fishing and I can’t wait to get back up there.. The new buggers did their thing anyway! I lost a couple but replaced them yesterday..

I still have a heap of photos from local fishing over the winter to date but they’ll have to wait for the next blog. It’s just too many photos otherwise!

If you’d like to get in touch about guided fishing over winter or next season please get in touch! ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website. Tight Lines, Ronan..

Link to my fly patterns on Fulling Mill here – and a link to my latest article for the fulling mill blog here -Winter in New Zealand.

Taking a Gamble…

June 13th, 2022 No comments

Because I live here, taking a gamble is not such a big deal. If I want to go after a really big fish, I often have to forgo even the chance of catching average fish. That’s the nature of some of the big fish rivers I go to – they only hold large trout. Very few but very big. It becomes all about the fish and not the fishing. I’m fine with this because I’ve been fishing for long enough that I really don’t mind if I blank and I have plenty time to try again if I do. It’s very different for my clients. I don’t generally want to push those “big fish” gambles on them unless conditions are perfect or they just want a trophy and nothing else.. but it’s different for Marcus. He simply loves the prospect of catching something really big! While he enjoys every aspect of trout fishing he’s more than happy to gamble everything, even his few days of fishing, for a chance at one great fish. This makes it easy for me in some respects. We just need to fish where big fish are – even if the conditions are against us – and they were! After a couple of months of what seemed like blue sky days every day, the clouds formed and the rain came as Marcus landed. Watching river flows online I was trying to determine what rivers would be fishable in our fishing timeframe. I had safe options for great fishing but with little likelihood of finding fish to double figures. The big fish rivers were being hit with spike after spike of rain. On one day we got it wrong – found our chosen river in flood and unfishable – but managed a great evening dry fly fishing locally to redeem the day. Another day we got it half right and just managed to squeeze a decent trout before being flooded off. Another day it worked. It had rained all night and I expected the river to be dirty but I thought, maybe hoped, it would be just okay. On arrival at the river it was dirty but fishable. As we drove up river to where the bigger fish reside it got dirtier and dirtier. The feeder streams were clear – effectively cleaning the main stem a little bit more below the confluence of each one. This was worrying. We continued venturing up river only to find it becoming pretty much unfishable. There’s not much in the way of a plan B here so we just kept going upstream to where it seemed to be getting worse! Way up top, to our relief it was a bit clearer – and just fishable. I think by now it was clearing from the top down. Whatever the reason, it was fishable to our great relief.. The plan was to streamer fish it down. Marcus is a regular to my hometown in Ireland and knows the local salmon fisheries well. This river, especially with the tannin colour was just like a west of Ireland salmon river. Marcus was fishing it like it was. To me it was the right way to fish it – across and down, covering the water methodically. The water was fishy – it just screamed fish and we were both feeling it. We were just waiting for the pull… and then it came. Like an Atlantic Salmon, he was on. Nothing chaotic about the take. I had to see what he was into so I quickly moved to the edge to find out. The fish rolled on the surface and he was big. I had caught a 9.5lber from the same pool earlier this season, so I thought it was likely to be him – but maybe not. This fish could have been bigger… or smaller! I got into the water and as soon as a chance presented I put the brute safely in the net. There’s a great sense of relief and excitement when a big fish goes in the net. Relief for obvious reasons, excitement just to see this great creature – to look at him with awe and respect… and of course to find out if he’s cracked the mythical 10lb mark which we all pretend doesn’t matter. I guessed 9.5 because I assumed he was the same fish I caught a few months earlier on my last visit. He was 9.5 – but he wasn’t the same trout as I had caught; he was a much more beautifully marked trout. We were both delighted. This was the ultimate payoff for a huge gamble – April is a bad month to fish it, conditions were terrible and the river was in flood! Fortune favours the bold they say. Well it certainly did that day.

It was great to see Tim again after quite a few years. We had a few great days fishing with regular hatches, lots of trout to about 7lbs, a few beers, a 4×4 adventure, Wilderness lakes, a few beers, backcountry rivers and good craic. Looking forward to next time..

Right now we’re in the midst of winter and the fishing is very good. Better locally than the last couple of years I’m relieved to say. I’ve had quite a few good sessions on river and lake but more about that soon. I wanted to catch up with the month of April first. I’m always a bit behind!

I’m pretty much exclusively using my own fly patterns which are available from Fulling Mill for everything now. I have enough patterns available with them for most of my needs. The hotspots and streamers are great through winter and the brown and claret nymphs with the kiwi dun were pretty much all I used through April. I’m delighted to say that quite a few more of my patterns will be available in 2023. Exciting times indeed. I’ll have another article in the Fulling Mill blog in the next month or so too.

That’s all for now! Feel free to get in touch about winter guiding or about guiding next season. There’s still a few spots available. Tight lines! Ronan..

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Clearing The Decks!

May 12th, 2022 No comments

Just a quick blog today to clear the decks. I had a busy and successful season finale with some superb trout for clients. One very big fish to report on too. Before I get to that I’d like to share the rest of the seasons highlights. It’s a while since I put up a blog so some of these photos go right back to summer! I’ll also be changing back to the previous blog format after this one. Paul and I made this change back to the old format because it seemed like a good Idea, but the one I’ve been using for the last few years is much better for images. I put a slideshow at the bottom or you can click on the thumbnail images, but you have to go back to click the next one. WordPress can be very user unfriendly at times!!

Some exciting stuff coming up – Jeff and I will be doing another episode of Pure Fly NZ with Nick Reygaert. We have some ideas but nothing is set in stone as yet. Also the Piscatorial pot! I probably wont run it this month but I hope to run it in June. We’ll certainly need a good stock of wood for the brazier – which wont be a problem! Also a potential visit to the coast on the cards..

If you’d like to get in touch about guided fly fishing next season please get in touch. The season is already quite full but still some decent gaps for multi-day trips. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Enjoy the pics below and I’ll be back soon with something more!

   Tight Lines, Ronan..

ps, Here is a link to my flies available from Fulling Mill. 

 

A Fjordland Adventure…

April 1st, 2022 No comments

As we flew deep into Fjordland last January I wondered what might make this adventure an adventure. Something always happens when you put yourself in the hands of nature. Could be good, could be bad, maybe dangerous maybe not but something always adds to the story…

We landed about 3kms up a river which flows directly into a Flord. It looked as if we were above the tidal zone so we thought it should be a good base of opperations. Nick brought his raft so from here we could access the fjord downstream or the main river upstream. The objective for the 3 days was to learn and explore as much of the system as possible by foot and raft from the ocean to the headwaters. When the heli departed we were alone in the wilderness. I joked that I hoped we haden’t forgotten anything.

Day 1.

After considering the weather forecast we decided that the best option for day 1 was the main river. The sea breeze in the forecast might make the fjord difficult for the oarsman. Upstream was a very large, long pool; barely flowing. We decided to assemble the raft to get through that first pool to access the flowing river above it. It made sence to have that job done anyway. As we started to assemble the raft I noticed Nick looking a little bothered – and nothing bothers Nick! “What’s up”, I asked? “Forgot the bolts’ he said.. Feck. Okay, so this is a hurdle. We have a raft but we can’t assemble the frame. Not going to let this beat us, we gathered what we could to put the raft together. Tent string, 80lb nylon, duct tape and zip-ties. What couldn’t be assembled with that? Well not this raft! Before long we were all go. MacGyver would have been proud. After a couple of teething problems we advanced up river. As we rowed up Nick questioned the damp green slime on the logs. Is this tidal? We agreed that it could be but wern’t totally sure. When we got to the end of the long pool we tied up the raft with 80lb test and continued upriver on foot.

The river was small, a few cumecs I guess. Clear and beautiful flowing through pristine beech forest. A mix of bouldery pools and gravelly runs. Ideal trout water. We quickly moved upstream without trout to slow us down. We blind fished now and again when a piece of water screamed fish – but they weren’t there. We fished to about a kilometre short of where the river becomes unfishable. At that point we decided not to push on since they simply weren’t there. Apart from a couple of 2lbers we saw nothing. After a 2 hour hike back down the river we got to the raft. It was strewn up on top of some logs with the 80lb test tangled in a root system. I guess it was tidal. I rowed back down the long pool. About 20m from camp, Nick hooked into a super fish from the raft. A great surprise. A 6.5lb stunning seatrout and a perfect end to the fishing day. We got back to camp and cracked open a cold beer from Nicks Yeti and got the fire going. I then set to work cooking steak, spuds and beans. Good food, company, fire and few beers in the wilderenss is hard to beat…

Day 2.

The best weather day. Since there were no fish in the river then they must be in the tidal zone. Nicks big seatrout from tidal water the evening before certainly made us feel very excited about 3kms of tidal river water before getting to the fjord. We set off at about 7am. Nick on oars and me casting. Teamwork. Nick keeping the boat on the best bank, just far enough out for me to efficiently and effectively cover the water with my streamer. After a slow start I picked up a fish from a stream mouth. Then the fishing really amped up. We’d catch about 2 a piece and then swap positions – oars for the rod. The fish generally weren’t big but the action was pretty constant. We were fishing this tidal zone at low tide. There was great excitement as the tight river section opened out into an awesome fjord. Just to see it was enough. But what will we find here? First up was a very fishy shorline. We pulled up the raft and fished it from the shore – and it was good! We landed quite a few here before heading for the drop-off where thousands or years of deposition from the river meets the ocean. Now and agian the tent string keeping the oarlocks from falling down would break. We got pretty good at fixing this on the fly. a couple of minutes and we were off again. The flats on the way from the river to the drop-off looked fishy we saw very little. There were occasional bust-ups out in the black ocean water, sometimes close to the drop-off. This was clearly an opportunity. Before we persued that we tried for a blue cod for dinner. We were depending on catching fish for dinner! Nick and I lost one each but didn’t get one. As luck would have it, A cray boat in the bay saw us and came in for chat. A beautiful boat called the Amazon. Certainly the nicest fishing boat I’ve seen! The crew were a very sound bunch of fellas and we chatted for quite a while. When they offered us a few cray tails we happily said yes please! Dinner was sorted. Before they went on their way they towed us way out into the fjord so that we could drift back in with the wind and catch some cod. The idea was good but it was unsuccessful. We then turned our attention to the drop-off and the bust-ups. When a shot finally presented I picked up my 7 weight trout rod. I hooked a kahawai (probably – but who knows) which took off out and down. When I was near the end of my backing he broke me. My mistake. Wrong rod. More to the point – wrong reel. The birds were following the fish so we followed the birds. This was not easy on oars with considerable wind. Finally another opportunity. This time I picked up Nick’s 10 wt Scott Meridian with a large Hatch reel on it. This time I was correctly armed and landed a nice kahawai after a super strong fight. Nick and I hooked a couple of others too but just the one landed. It was high summer so the days were long. That was a good thing because we were about 6kms from camp and it was getting late. We wanted to fit in the fishy bank again too. By now the tide would be low again. We got another couple there before the row up the tidal zone of the river channel. The tide was going out again which slowed the progress on oars but still no major problem. The fishing was quiet while I rowed. Nick took the last kilometre on oars while I fished again. Then, right at camp (just like yesterday) I hooked into a strong fish. I caught a glimpse and said it wasn’t a trout or a kahawai. To my delight a jack mackerel came to the net. This is an ocean fish 3kms up a river in fresh water! Tidal, yes – but fresh water. What a day. It was 9.30pm by the time we made it back to camp. I got a big fire going. Nick was on cooking duty. Spuds, beans and crayfish. Probably the best crayfish I’ve eaten thanks to Nick the chef and the fishermen from the Amazon. After Nick went to his tent I stayed up for a while to wind down and just relax by the fire. I needed it after a non-stop brilliant day.

Day 3.

The main river was not an option so it had to be the tidal zone again. With the tide slightly different we had a chance to see it in another light. This was indeed interesting. With higher water in the tidal zone the fishing was very poor. Nick got one or 2 and I got my best trout of the trip. A stunning, fat seatrout. A great result but nowhere near the numbers of trout on the previous day. Down at the fishy bank, we arrived on low tide and it was good again. We caught a few. The advancing tide filled the edges quickly and this knocked out the fishing. We thought it might improve it but it didn’t. At least not on this day! We then fished the flats concentrating on the gutters or anything fishy. It was quiet but nick did get a follow from a very large trout. Possibly over 10lbs – that sort of big. Time flew by and we had a heli to catch. We checked out some shallows filling up with the rising tide. These were full of whitebait. I’m sure trout would come into these areas at times but not today. The row back up river was easy with the flowing tide. We got back to camp at high tide. Funny how our timing worked out – this was the first time we saw camp at high tide in 3 days. Luckily there was enough gravel for the heli to land. We took the raft apart and laughed about how the duct tape, zip-ties, 80lb nylon and tent string held it together for 3 days of hardship. With everything packed up there was time to sit down and have a beer and chat about 3 amazing days exploring this system. We discussed what we had learned and agreed that it left us with more questions than answers. We’ll just have to go back!

Nick Reygaert

Most of you will have seen some of Nicks fly fishing productions from The Source to Pure Fly NZ and so much in between. You might know him as a cameraman more than an angler. Well I can tell you something – he’s an angler first and foremost, and one of the toughest I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with. Dawn til dusk is no problem for him. Fly fishing is his life whether he’s behind a camera or not.

Tight lines, Ronan.

Ps, for guiding bookings visit my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com. For a look at my flies available from Fulling Mill, including the streamers I used on this trip, click here. FYI, just enough time to grab some kiwi duns and size 16 clarets for the end of april – best hatch fishing of the year!

New Flies, Big Browns & Lots of Fishing!

February 12th, 2022 No comments

It’s been a very full on start to the year. Some guiding which has been great but more importantly I’ve had a lot of time to fish myself – I’m not quite sure how that happened but I’m not complaining! There’s been lots of highlights. One of them, the biggest highlight for sure was a trip to Fjordland with Nick Reygaert. The trouble is, too much other stuff has happened since to do that trip justice in a shared blog. It deserves it’s own report and it will come!! I’m just not sure when yet.

Another highlight I’d like to mention was on a day I went in search of a big fish or 2 on a solo mission. It was a day when I needed to walk a lot of river to find fish. Over the day I walked about 12 kilometres of river and only saw only 5 fish. 3 of those I landed. Number one and two took my Kiwi Dun without much difficulty but the 3rd was a different story. This turned into an hour long cat and mouse tactical battle on the last pool of the day. It started as I approached a long, slow pool and saw some nervous water half way up. Then a rise in the same area. “Brilliant” I thought, “theres a fish in the pool”. I advanced carefully up the pool looking as intently as possible – then I spooked a small fish of about 3lbs. That was not what I was expecting. Surely that was not the fish I saw first? I didn’t think it was a small fish. On the reasonable chance there’s still a big fish cruising the pool, I’ll continue to proceed with caution – that was my thinking. Sure enough, I saw another rise and it looked big. “Game on” I thought. I moved slowly to intercept the rise but could not see the fish. Then he rose under the cut bank at my feet. Knee length grass obscured me from the fishes vision and I could just make out his tail as it pushed him gently upstream and out of sight. The light was not great. This was the point when I decided to take a more careful approach than I might usually take. I decided not to persue the fish by way of following him up the pool because I thought I could easily spook him. Instead I decided to reset altogether. I went right back to the start of the pool and started my approach again. I ended up doing this numerous times. Somtimes I got a half chance, sometimes a brief visual, sometimes nothing. On one occasion I got a great visual and enough time to make a cast. 3 actually. I covered him each time with the dun and he totally ignored it each time. The fish was cruising like a trout looking for a cicadas but there were none on the water – at least none that I could see. I put one on anyway and once again reset. Back to the start. Another careful, slow and stealthy approach. Then, right up at the head of the pool I saw him rise. “Now” I thought.. I ran lightfooted half way to the rise then slowed right down. My thinking was that if he was cruising towards me after that rise he should be close now. From a crouched position I was scoping all round, now staying still. Then I saw him – cruising at 45 degrees away from my bank but in my general direction. I laid out my cast and dropped the cicada about 2 metres in front of him with an intentional plop. He immediatly set his course for it and cruised confidently all the way to it and….. chomp. The lift into such big weight is like a drug and I’m certainly addicted. What a high.

I thought he would make the magic 10lbs. He looked it during the fight but my weigh net said 9.5lbs. Of course it doesn’t matter but there is a certain fixation people have (me included!) about those ellusive double figure fish which is why I like to say the weight. That was the end of a really amazing day in the backcountry. I had the whole upper river to myself and I walked pretty much all of it.

In other news, I’m delighted to have another 4 fly patterns in the 2022 Fulling Mill catalog. I could not be happier with how well the team at Fulling Mill replicated these flies. 3 of them are streamers and one is a dry. One of the streamers is the tried and trusted Bruiser. Immortalised in the Lake Pukaki episode of Pure Fly NZ. This fly caught all the fish for both Jeff and myself on day 2 – before it had a name! The 2nd one is the Killer Smelt. A newer pattern designed to immitate cockabullies and smelt. I’ve had great success on this fly. It works well in clear water when darker streamers will get follows but not takes. This is also great in the salt. And last but not least is the Green Machine. Lighter in colour than the Bruiser and darker than the smelt, this fly completes the little family of streamers. In my humble opinion, what sets these flies apart is their simplicity. Just 2 main componants of possum and marabou which seemlessly gel together in the water. Their profile is very lifelike with natural, fluid movement. Another advantage of these flies is that they don’t wrap around. They’re tied on the Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight hook which is incredibly strong. Just as good as the Kamasan B175 which I always used in the past, now I just use the FM version. The dry fly is actually one of my fathers creations which he’d been tying for NZ for about 10 years, so it’s very much tried and trusted. It’s a favourite of many of my clients as well as one of my own. The only thing I added to this fly was the sighter post to make it more visable. In a 14 its a great mayfly immitation and the 12 is superb for larger mayflies or as a general dry. I’m excited to see how these flies do around the world! I know dad has had a lot of success on his dry on Lough Corrib in the West of Ireland during olive and sedge hatches. A good friend is using them in Tasmania right now. There’s a batch of 60 streamers headed to Malaysia to help Paul fill up 6 boxes of flies for the guides involved in the Sungai Tiang project. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in action over there! I know my good friend John O Malley is going to give them a swim on Corrib for early season brownies. I’m confident they’ll work well. All my Fulling Mill patterns are available here.

Feel free to get in touch about guided fly fishing on the lower South Island for the remainder of the season if you’re within NZ. For those of you abroad, it looks like visitors will be allowed in this October – although a dates has not yet been set. Feel free to get in touch to arrange a booking starting in November to be on the safe side. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website

Tight lines! Ronan..

Here’s to 2022!

January 4th, 2022 No comments

It feels like the season has only started and it’s January already. This is why I try to get the most out of winter fishing – once the regular season opens, it’s over in no time, it accelerates. I guess thats why we have to make the best of everything. Life is short and we don’t know whats coming. On that note, I’m certainly trying to make the best of these challenging times. Yes, my business is in ruins and I worry about and miss my family in Ireland but all other aspects of life are better. Family time, my own fishing time, time in the workshop and restoring our old house and garden. In a normal guiding season I don’t see the inside of my workshop and maintaining the house is limited to mowing the lawns now and again. I know I’ll miss this when things go back to normal. In fact, it’s made me rethink what’s actually important so much so that I’m considering reducing my number of guide days per year to keep more of this work / life balance that I’m enjoying so much. I think when all this is over many people will realise the good points of this strange time – and there are many, at least there are here in NZ. I want to enjoy the good bits right now and forget about the negative as much as I can. I’m not going to look back and think I missed out or could have done things differently. I’m thankful to be in NZ where our freedom has not been affected like peoples in other parts of the world.

I’ve been on the water 3 out of the first 4 days of this year. Good results from various conditions. I have a very exciting exploratory backcountry mission coming up so this year is kicking off in style. More on all that in my next blog.

I’m attempting to improve my photography a little. David Lambroughton has been giving me a few valuable pointers. I’ve taken my wifes 10 year old Lumix GF2 out of the closet and got a polarising filter for it. I love the results. Polarising was always something I wanted from my picture taking but waterproof cameras are limited in this regard. Putting my sunnies in front of the lens wears thin! Don’t worry, you wont see “Photography” after my name or watermarks on any images! The photo’s below tell the story of a great finale to 2021.

I have 4 new patterns coming out this year with Fulling Mill. 3 streamers and a dry. I’m excited about that. More on those soon. My nymphs are currently available here.

Feel free to get in touch about guided fly fishing whether your in NZ or abroad. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines and I sincerely wish you all a great 2022. Ronan..

Some Differences Between Rainbows and Browns..

November 28th, 2021 No comments

A recent experience fishing a lake with rainbows only (no browns) made me think about the differences between rainbows and browns. Their general behaviour – especially on lakes – is quite different. Most lakes I fish have a mix of browns and bows but I don’t usually target the rainbows. Not entirely because I prefer fishing for browns but because browns tend to occupy shallower water making them more of a sight fishing target. Even if sight fishing is not on the cards, brown trout tend to favour shallow water which is generally easier to read. Because of this, I enjoy fishing the shallow water more so rainbows are often a by-catch.

Yesterday I fished Manorburn Dam for the 2nd time recently. Manorburn has rainbows only so right away I found myself thinking differently and feeling a little on the backfoot. Sight fishing the edges or shallow flats (1 to 2 feet) wont work well because rainbows don’t generally cruise as tight or as shallow as as browns. Fishing around shallow structure (over 2 feet roughly) will work, maybe not quite as well as for browns but it’s a good start point anyway. I put on a heavy but small streamer on a floating line with a long leader to fish out into the deep and then retrieve in onto the shallow stuff. This worked well. The water in the lake, although quite clear, appears very black so finding structure was not always easy. Because of this I found myself loosing faith in certain areas and moving. I’m not really sure if this was right or wrong. More persistance may well have worked but I needed some sort of visual – deep rocks or weed beds etc. I could go on about my thinking but I can sum this up simply. In lakes, rainbows favour deeper water, so with the absence of browns, this is where I feel the focus of my fishing needs to be.

One of the interesting things about the fishing yesterday was the number of trout Guy and I picked up near the surface in deep, black water. Initially it came as a surprise because I thought we’d need to get a fly deep for the deep water to work. We were fishing from the boat so depending on the drift, one of us was often fishing over very deep water since the shorline drop-off was so steep. The black water was more productive then the water near the bank. We took a couple for the table and they were full of green beetles which explains this. Fish will move well off shore looking for terrestrials on the surface. It’s a pity we didn’t gut one there and then to get this clue. It would certainly have changed how we fished. There was nothing rising during the day but they must have still been on the prowl after eating them all morning, or maybe they were taking sunken beetles. Lesson learned for next time. While I’m on the topic, browns will also follow terrestrials out into deep water.

In rivers, the differences between rainbows and browns are much less. People talk about rainbows liking fast riffles but in my experience, you’ll catch a brown anywhere you’ll catch a rainbow. The main difference from what I’ve seen is that rainbows will not come into shallow backwaters or cruise the shallow edges of pools, whereas browns love this type of water – outside this, they’re very similar in a river – on the South Island anyway.

In other news, fishing has been really good. Very little guiding but doing an occasional day. They’ve both been great!! I’ve been checking out quite a bit of new water with varying results – typical of exploring – you take the good with the bad. The only way to find out is to fish it.

My nymphs are doing the business as always. They’re available here.

Feel free to get in touch about guiding in 2022-23 season. I imagine its going to be a busy one. If you’re in NZ, we have the rest of the season to ourselves so lets enjoy it! ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines, Ronan..

Categories: Expedition Tags:

Fly Fishing Freedom…

October 16th, 2021 No comments

Between 2002 and 2011 I fished the majority of every NZ season. Total freedom. I’d work in Ireland during the NZ winter and save as much as I could for the next trip to NZ. After moving to NZ full time in 2011, much of the freedom continued – I just had to fit the fishing around work. As a single man I’d fish every weekend, public holiday and day off throughout all seasons. Things are different now. My wife and 2 kids are now my priority. It’s amazing how quickly time passes and I’m enjoying every minute with them. Recently I got a window to go away and fish myself for 3 days. I really don’t remember when I had this last! Guiding is different, I’m talking personal personal fishing time. Mark was on board to join me right away as we were trying to put a trip together anyway. Next I thought I’d ask a few of the other lads. 4 of us ended up hitting the road for 3 days… I forgot how great the freedom of being on the road fishing feels. That was the drug for 9 years of NZ seasons before I decided to live here. Of course I still fish a lot, a few days a week I’ll get out for a fish. Even if it’s just a few hours. But it’s so hard now to get away over night with my 2 little beauties to look after.

We had 3 brilliant days of fishing. We broke up in different groups each day and covered small streams, stillwaters and rivers. It was a nice mix of tried and trusted and totally new water. One of the exploration days yielded a superb find. A piece of water that I cant wait to get back to with better conditions. Also an excellent guiding option. The highlight of the 3 days for me was a stillwater that I used to fish a lot many years ago. Kevin (Shotgun) first took me there in about 2004. I have so many great memories of the place since then. I had magic fishing on it with my dad – some of our best memories of fishing together over here actually. I also fished it with Chris Dore, Bob Wyatt, Tonio, Fraser and now Wesley. Early season access has always been hard to get with lambing but we were just lucky on our day that they had moved the ewes into the next field and the farmer was happy to let us through. About the fishing – Wesley went left and I went right. Numbers were less than in the past but still plenty to keep us focused. We each landed a few of the most beautiful trout an angler can can catch. Sight fishing with a dry dropper accounted for most. When we were almost finished on it, I changed to a double nymph rig to fish some deep water blind. I moved 3 before landing another stunner.. That was the icing on the cake. I have to say, I’m delighted and relieved to have my HT6 again. It’s been cursed that rod! It keeps getting broken – not manufacture error I should say – just stupit shit keeps happening to it! I feel like the curse is now over and I’ll be able to enjoy this fabulous rod again. If not, I have a back up. Ha! Take that, curse!

Part of the craic on a trip like this is getting into the pub at the end of the day for feed and a schather of pints. I rarely look past the steak option and the beer was good. The pub was quiet but 4 like-minded fellas will always have a good time!

3 days, good friends, lots of craic and plenty trout. Now I need another fix!

In other news, I’ve had a few days guiding – delighted to get them under the circumstances. All very successful days with lots to the net each day. The best result had to be from Angela, who after a casting lesson landed three 5lb browns. That was her first day with a fly rod! Pretty amazing result. Great to see Brian again after his 11lber last season. Also lovely to get out with Sam and Fred again. Last time we fished together Sam broke in 4 big trout. On our recent day she made no mistakes! They both landed some magnificent trout. I know Chuan will be jealous..

Pure Fly NZ has moved off mainstream tv and onto youtube. This makes it very easy to access where ever you are in the world! Myself and Jeff had some super fishing in our episode and Nick was right there to capture it all. You can watch it, and all the other episodes from series 4 for free on youtube. Here’s a link to our episode.

If you’re in NZ and interested in some guided fly fishing, feel free to drop me a line to book a trip before you can’t travel at all!! Visit my website or email ronan@sexyloops.com

My nymphs have been accounting for nearly all the river fish and some of the lake fish in the gallery below. If you’re thinking about stocking up for the NZ season, these are my tried and trusted range of weighted nymphs. You can check them out here.

Tight lines, Ronan..

A New Tactic For Lakes..

August 20th, 2021 No comments

From about mid July, trout start repopulating the lakes in large numbers. Spawning for most browns and many rainbows has finished. This is a great time to fish the lakes. The trout are keen to pile on condition, so the fishing can be superb. You’ll pick up some skinny fish but it’s quite amazing just how good the condition is on the vast majority of these winter fish. I’ve been out quite a bit making the most of it. When conditions permit, I’ve had some great sight fishing along the edges. When the wind has been up, my possum & marabou buggers have been doing really well. I’ve been fishing another method too. Something new for me.

This method is simple. I have fished it before but never quite like my current approach to it. It’s a dry / dropper rig fished blind – okay, so nothing new there – but for me there is. Normally when the wind gets up and I can’t sight the edges I turn to a bugger or small streamer. I love this method so it was hard for me to change. I always thought that nymphs fished blind under a dry in the wind would work. In fact, I knew it would work, but would it be better than buggers or streamers? Probably not – but maybe. Recently – finally – I put it to the test, both shore based and drifting. Like any blind fishing, it’s not just chuck and chance. I’m always looking for structure, contrast, weed beds, sand patches etc. The trick is to cover as much likely water as possible, as efficiently as possible. so, while drifting for example, I fish a relatively short line. Long enough so that fish near the fly won’t see the boat. Keeping it short gives me the great advantage of being able to pick it up and lay it down with just one false cast. Speed can be key here. 3 or 4 false casts and you might drift past a good weed patch, or spook fish by carrying too much line for too long. I don’t leave the fly sitting for long. About 10 to 20 seconds, then pick it up an place it somewhere else. I’m always aware of the speed of the drift versus the water I want to cover. A drogue is on the cards. It’s a very involved way to fish. It requires focus because you must have your fly in likely water all the time to stack the odds in your favour. Thats what blind fishing is come to think of it. I’ve mainly been fishing 2 to 4 feet of water with this method. At this depth I know I can get my fly to “likely trout cruising depth” quickly. I’ve been using my size 14 dark nymphs with a 2mm bead to suit this depth, but there’s loads of scope to take it further. Bigger, more buoyant dries holding heavier mymphs on longer droppers for deeper water. maybe more than one nymph? This method really suits boat fishing because you can find large expances of ideal water and work it. Thats not generally as easy from the bank but it’s a good tactic on the shore too. The advantage of the dry fly indicator over direct nymphing is the static or sinking presentation and the indication to strike. Typical to most methods, I’ve had days where everything sticks and days where I lost a lot of fish.

To weigh it up against bugger fishing – you’ll cover more fish with buggers but they won’t all eat. You’ll cover fewer fish with this dry / dropper method but more will eat (in my opinion!) I think the only way to test it is to fish against Jeff Forsee on buggers while I use the dry dropper. That said it, the dry / dropper method suits both anglers fishing it because bugger fishing is quite dispuptive even to the water outside the anglers focus. There would have to be some rules to give both methods equal footing. I’m sure Jeff will be keen! (We would have been out there doing it yesterday only for this feckin lockdown – which I fully agree with!)

Guiding through winter has been quiet which is pretty normal. However, my now regular client, Bill was down a few times. We had good fishing, mixing it up with sight and blind fishing on a number of lakes and working on casting. While up in Mackenzie country we had an encounter with an absolute monster. Sighted on a lake edge. I’d say 12lbs plus. I don’t think canal fish can get in to this lake, so that was a genuine monster. He was hovering with his dorsal just poking out. One good cast from Bill and the trout violently spooked, shifting a lot of water. I’m itching to get back! That was certainly a fish of a lifetime and I want to catch it.

In other news, I’ve been using my green boat a bit lately. She still has no name! I totally misjudged it as a boat. I thought it was too heavy for fishing shallows and only good for cruising with the family. To my delight, It’s great to fish from and drifts like a dream. Ideal for one but fine for two too. Wesley was out with me recently and he found it really easy and comfortable to fish from the hatch opening. It works like a lean bar whichever way we drift, so I don’t need to mount a casting deck on the bow – though I might anyway! It’s a very versatile boat. Easy to tow and launch, very economical with a 15hp 4 stroke Evinrude – clips along nicely with that, drifts well and easy to cast from with nothing for flyline to wrap around (well, almost nothing). The other big advantage is the cabin. It will keep any amount of gear dry and out of the weather and there room for me to sleep in it. I’m really looking forward to the future with this boat. Some of you may remember Daltona. She’s still in the workshop and the renovation is moving forward very slowly. I will get there!

I wrote a piece for Fulling Mill lately about my top 10 trout for the 20 – 21 season. Here is a link to it. Some great trout in there and a brief recap on each one.

If you’d like to get in touch about guided fishing this season or next please do. Strange times but it costs nothing to have a chat! Email me at ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines, Ronan..