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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..

Saving My Sanity!

July 16th, 2021 No comments

I never worry when the regular season ends because we have good winter fishing locally. That said, last winter was hard work, so I hoped for better fishing this winter. The winter season usually kicks off with a bang as some big rainbows move up river in May. This year saw very few fish move in May. Also, feck all in June and now were well into July and still no great action. Every day out I find some fish, but not the big thumpers I need to scratch this itch. I want a big silver bar – fresh out of the lake, or just a plain big bow. For the 5 or so winters before last winter I always got them. Plenty of them. But not this year or last. Last year I had the excuse that I was busy with 2 very young kids, but this year I have fished it a lot. I have guided it and fished it hard. Lots of days, but I simply have not had that great day. I think the fish are there in very low numbers. Maybe the run is still to come! I certainly hope so. Lately I’ve actually gotten fed up going out to fish it. At the end of each fishing day, I return saying “right, thats it, not going back”… but the next time I have a window, I’m back out there, frustrating myself once again – sometimes not enjoying it. I move quickly to cover multiple spots which have always held fish. I also look in new water, blind fish, sight fish. Really work it hard but nothing decent to report apart from some dark 2 to 4lb bows or 1lb maidens but thats simply not what I want. I’m not greedy either – If I could catch one fresh run 6lb plus rainbow I’d be happy. That would make my winter. One day out – one of the few days with decent action – I hooked 8 only landing 2 rat bows. One fish I lost that day was one of those special fish, but I only caught a glimpse.

I had to get well away from the local in search of some good fishing. I went to fish some lakes I like to fish in winter. It felt like I hadn’t caught a decent trout for ages and I couldn’t take it anymore! The day on the lake saved my sanity. I worked a rocky shore hard all day with dries, nymphs and streamers – sight and blind and landed 7 trout to 7lbs. Lots of reel screaming runs from super trout.. I feel like an angler again.

Feel free to get in touch about guided fly fishing over winter or next season. Check out my website or email me @ ronan@sexyloops.com.

Links to some of the flies mentioned in the pics.. Complex twist bugger , Claret nymph , Indicator Klink.

Tight Lines, Ronan..

Help Protect the Manuherikia River (Also, a Winter Fishing Update!)

June 13th, 2021 No comments

The amount of water allowed to be taken for irrigation from the local river, the Manuherikia, is coming up for review. Currently, so much is taken off the river that in summer the river gets too low and warm for fish to thrive, especially in the lower reaches. The fish shut down completely as soon as the day warms up. I avoid the river when it’s like this so as not to further stress the trout, as do most anglers. With this, anglers loose much of their local river for fishing (and guiding in my case) for up to 2 months a season. Currently the river is permitted to get as low as 900 litres per second before abstraction is reduced to keep it at that level. This low flow also makes the lower river unsafe to swim in and visually pretty horrible as brown algae takes over. This should be quite a large river but it’s not allowed to be as the demand for irrigation increases with land use intensification. Some of the water take-outs are huge, taking what appear to me to be half the river at some points. Sadly, this is quite normal for many NZ rivers but we have a chance now to make the situation on the Manuherikia a little better. Please take a moment to fill out this survey – it only takes a couple of minutes. The link is at the bottom left of the page. Of course, the optimum flow outlined in the scenarios would be 3000l/s. You don’t have to live here to care about the river so please have your say. If you’d like to take a little more time and write a submission, please do so. You can email it to policy@orc.govt.nz . You have until June 18th. Thanks in advance to those who make the effort to take the survey or write a submission.

We’re right in the swing of winter fishing right now. As always its fickle but mostly pretty good. That’s the nature of chasing migrating trout; you may or may not find them. The most exciting prospect for me at this time of year is catching is a large, fresh run rainbow. I’ve been lucky in the past, usually catching one over 8lbs every winter, sometimes more. This winter (so far) and last winter combined, the best I managed to catch has been about 5lbs. I’m not sure whats changed but those big fish seem hard to find. I’m dying to get stuck in a big one again. I’m out tomorrow fishing myself so hopefully I’ll get one.

I’ve had a busy May guiding, relatevily speaking. All up very successful. Only one blank with 2 complete beginners to fly fishing. That was an interesting day though. I don’t think I’ve ever guided an ambidexterous person before but both Ian and Craig were. What are the odds? The first challenge for them was to decide which arm was best suited for the task. After about an hour I had to insist that they “pick and arm” or we were not going to advance much. Once they did they did great – Ian in particular (sorry Craig!), a real natural caster and angler. I hope they keep it up!

It was great to see my regular client and friend Brendan back over again from Australia. We mixed up the few days with local rivers and lakes and a couple of days deep in the backcountry – hoping for a big rainbow or brown. We caught heaps of average sized fish. We saw some very big fish but they elluded us. The best we landed was over 5. A nice fresh run fish. A magic couple of days though, covering about 20 kilometres of river. Frosty mornings with mostly sunny weather to follow and little wind. The sun sets quite early in the valleys at this time of year so warm gear was essential. The backcounty hut provided great shelter for the night. It was a very basic hut which gets little use but a good sweep out, tidy up and warm fire made us right at home. That and some good food and wine. Next time I’ll have to bring a roll mat because one of the two bunks is made with floor boards. Brendan didn’t find it very comfortable!

Lots more stuff too all documented in the photo’s below! Some very enjoyable days out with friends and great to use the new club boat. It’s a weapon!

Feel free to get in touch to book a winter fishing mission. Contact me on ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines, Ronan..

The Manuherikia River!

An Insight Into 8 Days Guiding.

May 5th, 2021 No comments

As soon as the trans-Tasman travel restrictions were lifted I had some of my regulars booking trips. I didn’t think it was going to happen but finally, it did. It felt great to be busy again and things are looking good for May too. I had 8 consecutive guide days to finish off the regular season and managed a day myself on the 30th to polish it off. It wasn’t always easy and hatches were average to poor apart from one day where it really fired. Generally, April is the best month for mayfly hatches down here, so when it doesn’t happen it’s a little disappointing. Some days when the hatch was happening, we were almost running up river to find rising trout before it switched off again. Because it can switch off so suddenly! On one of the days, fly was pouring off for a while in the late afternoon. We got a couple during the hatch, then it stopped. Then 30 minutes later fly was pouring off again but the fish didn’t respond. 2 variables, fish and fly – and they both need to be “on” for it to work! All up, the guiding days went very well. I really enjoyed the time with my regular clients who are also friends at this stage and great to meet Vipin and Dave for the first time. About that day, Vipin was having a run of bad luck. Hooking fish but loosing them, getting the eat but not the hook-up and loosing a very big fish at the net. He landed a small one just big enough to count. At the end of the day I decided to look in one more pool to see if he could have another chance at a decent fish. There he was – under a tree. Vipin is a novice caster and this was a very tough shot for any angler. I coached and encouraged him and tried not to get frustrated. Then he made the side-cast land close to the target, the fish turned and swam downstream to see what made the disturbance and ate the fly. We got the fish and that absolutely made the day.

One thing I started looking at recently is the step counter on my phone. According to it, I walked 103kms in 8 guide days. The biggest day was nearly 19kms and the smallest was over 8. An average of 13kms per day. That all sounds about right to me. Walking is an integral part of fishing in NZ. Its not all on the river of course. Many of the 103 kilometres were walking to a river or river beat where vehicle access is not permitted, or climbing in and out of gorges. Ultimately, the harder you can go the more fish you’ll catch – or, at the very least you’ll see some great country!

The story of the 8 guide days is told in the photos below. I included the fish count so you can get a clear picture of just how varied that can be. Out of the 8 days, 2 were very hard where we could easily have blanked but managed 1 and 3 respectively. All the other days were good to very good. It goes without saying that angler ability has a huge role to play. The great thing about taking Marcus out, for example, is that I don’t have to plan much around wind because he can cast into it with relative ease. So where am I going with this? I’m not sure really, but casting skill and fitness are clearly of key importance to a successful trip here. One thing I think I need to advise my clients on at the time of booking is to get out and practice casting as much as possible. Also to get out walking a bit just to raise the fitness a little if needs be. It needs to be said though, you don’t need to be a marathon runner to have a great time fishing in NZ. There are plenty great options to suit anglers not keen on, or not able for big walks.

Still spaces available in May and it can be a super month! Feel free to get in touch. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines, Ronan..

20 Year Old Trout!

April 8th, 2021 No comments

Over this season I’ve seen 2 trout that I had first seen many years before. Both from high country rivers where trout are known to get pretty old. I contacted my friend, Rasmus Gabrielson, to find out a bit about how old trout get. Rasmus reckons from some surveys done on one of the rivers that it would take a brown trout about 12 years to reach 9lbs. 9lbs is important because both trout were that weight when I caught them first. The first trout I caught back in 2013. He was one of the most spectacularly coloured trout I had ever seen. He had a dark patch on his right gill cover. This would make him easy to identify if I was to ever see him again. Over the years I did see him on occassion. The dark patch easily visible as long as there was no wind riffle. His colour never seemed as striking as when I first caught him but I always assumed it was the same fish. Twice he ate my clients flies but but each time the rod came up empty. It wasn’t until this season that the stars aligned for Robbie to catch him. If it wasn’t for the dark patch on the gill I would never have picked him as being the same trout. For confirmation I compared photos and the spots matched. Some spots seem to have moved a little, some new ones have appeared and some have disappeared but its still easy to see that it’s the same trout. The dark patch has gotten much darker. Whats really amazing is that if that fish was 12 when I caught him first, he’s 20 now and still going strong.

The other fish I first caught in 2015. He was also one of the most beautifully coloured and marked trout I had seen – and still is to this day – both are actually. After I caught this fish I didnt see him for years. I caught him again in 2020 and again in 2021. Still the same weight and still looking good. Assuming this fish was 12 when I first caught him, he’s 18 now and also still going strong. I caught this fish from 2 adjacent pools. The first fish mentioned has been in the same pool for every sighting. This really proves the territorial nature of some trout. It also proves their resilience and ability to be caught and released many times. There’s photos of both trout on their first and last capture at the bottom of the list below. One has certainly changed a lot. Rasmus told me about brown trout from Norwegian high country lakes reaching 30 years of age. I wonder if we have a 30 year old brown trout in NZ? I think we could.

I’ve picked these two examples because they were such memorable fish. It’s also easy to know that they are the same fish. I have other examples too of old trout being caught many times over many years. It seems very normal for them reach a certain size and then maintain that weight. Some older trout stop spawning, making reaching old age more likely. Spawning is very hard on trout and claims many every year.

In other news, it’s been a great couple of months of fishing. I’ve been out a lot myself and had some big and beautiful trout. I’ve done some guiding. I didn’t expect to guide a double figure fish this season with so few guide days due to Covid travel restrictions, but Brian from Christchurch proved me wrong. We flew into a wilderness river on day 3 of 3. Fishing was slow – the only way to make it work was to cover kilometres and maximise opportunities. With this plan we found fish. At the end of the day we found a monster! He took the dry but Brian briefly foul hooked him in the tail on the strike. Luckily the trout didn’t seem didn’t seem too bothered and continued feeding. He took my #14 brown nymph a few casts later. This fish faught hard and Brian played him really well. At the very end, almost in the net, he made a dash under a rock. Fully under. We couldn’t see a fin! One chance before the tippet abrades off the rock – go and pull him out! I walked out to the rock and slid my hand under feeling around for the tail – taking a shot of water down my waders as I did. I felt the tail and got a firm grip and pulled him out and put him in my net. What a relief! I was expecting it would be a “one that got away” story! The fish weighed just under 11lbs. To me he looked like an early lake run trout. He was twice as big as any other fish we caught that day.

With the travel bubble open between Australia and NZ, the end of my season is pretty much full but there’s still lots of availability in May. Still plenty availability between now and April 18 for anglers within NZ. Feel free to get in touch. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines, Ronan..

High-Country Dams..

February 13th, 2021 No comments

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

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

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

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

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

BOB’S BIRTHDAY

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

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

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

Tight lines, Ronan..

Boating, Fishing & Guiding..

January 2nd, 2021 No comments

I’ve had the boat out a couple of times now with the family. She’s lovely! Not built for speed but she gets along just fine. I played with the trim on the engine trying to get the bow down with the throttle opened up. It seems weight up the front might be the only option to get the bow down to plane properly. I’m not convinced that more power would get much more speed but I could be wrong. Even with the 15HP Evinrude I found myself throttling down for optimum performance. I remember learning about “hull speed” years ago – that a yacht cant go past a certain speed based on its hull shape and weight. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can knock a bit more speed out of it with somebody up the front. Maybe with correct weight distribution more power would equal more speed. Time will tell! Cant wait to get it out for an exploritory multi day lake trip. There’s enough room to sleep on board and heaps of space to carry gear. Now to find the time to do it! She also needs a name…


Plenty good fishing lately. I’ve put some highlights in the gallery below. My annual pilgrimage into one of my favourite and most physically demanding gorges was successful. Just like last year I found only one fish – turned out it was the same fish as last year. I’m starting to think he’s the only fish in the river and I’m not joking! I’ve watched fish numbers decline since I started fishing it 6 years ago. No idea why. Such a pristine backcountry river. Great to see my friend for the 3rd time. He’s still 9lbs, in great condition and still in the same part of the river. Funnily enough he was the first fish I ever caught on the river 6 years ago and currently he’s the last. Now he seems to have the whole place to himself. He must be old. 6 years ago he was 9lbs so he must be at least 15 assuming 1lb growth per year til he reached 9lbs. No science behind that, juat a guess. Hopefully when I go back next season I’ll find a new fish in one of the pools – and maybe I’ll see my old friend again too. (this is the blog he appeared in last season. I’ve spent the last hour trying to find the blog he first appeared in but I can’t find it!)


The weather has taken a turn for the worse. Bad timing as I’m supposed to be fishing down south with Robbie today and tomorrow. It’s been raining heavily for about 30 hours now. All rivers in flood. I might hit a lake myself tomorrow. I spent today sweeping water out of the workshop while trying to make some furniture. Guttering and drainage around the house need attention. I’ve added it to the infinite list of jobs!


Feel free to get in touch about a guided fly fishing trip. Plenty spaces in my calendar this season! Check out my website or email me directly ronan@sexyloops.com.

Tight Lines & Happy New Year! Ronan..

Balance…

December 6th, 2020 No comments

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

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

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

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

Tight lines! Ronan..