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Archive for the ‘Expedition’ Category

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..

Some of the Biggest Trout on Earth!

October 28th, 2020 No comments

Last winter we had a little treat! Fish & Game opened a river to anglers to fish for monster rainbows on their spawning run. These fish reach incredible sizes from living in a man made canal system. Like a giant spring creek, the canals have a constant flow and they’re always cool. Perfect for trout to grow year round. They have a diet which consists largely of cockabullies, snails and fish pellets from under the salmon farms, all aiding their rapid growth. For the most part, these fish spawn in the canal system itself but some have the opportunity to spawn in a river – the one that was opened to anglers last September. I spoke to Rhys from F&G about the decision to open it. He said that by that stage in the winter all the redds are already full of eggs so no damage can be done to future stocks by fishing to the new arrivals. He also said that the river would not be opened in September again. This decision was due to the expected onslaught of foreign anglers next year. A pity I thought. I sugested making it for residents only. This year it was for residents only because there were no foreign tourist anglers due to the Covid travel ban. The river was busy at times but there was room for everyone. The perfect case study. In my opinion, making it for residents only would be a very easy management system and we could keep this unique fishery open in late winter. Last Septembers successful opening provides strong evidence that it would work. We also chatted about leaving the river open in May to allow people to fish for the first run of large browns which have all but gone by September. Who knows what will happen here in the future. I think the closed season in NZ in general is in need of a total overhaul. Many closed seasons make no sence and protect little or nothing – especially on lakes and still waters.

Needless to say I had to have a crack at this river. It’s possibly the best large trout river in the world at this time of year. I fished it for 3 days over the month landing 10 between 13 and 25lbs. It quickly became clear to me what I loved most about these winter rainbows. Not the fish or the fishing but the fight! Usually I like that trout are not like bonefish. I like that I can get them in quickly so that I can get back to the fishing. These were different. Unique because how often are you not worried about loosing a 10 to 30lb trout? I loved leaning into these brutes with heavy gear. Get them in fast and returned after a quick snap. I used an 8wt TCX, a Lamson reel with a decent drag and 12lb Maxima. No playing around with 5 or 6 weights. In the great scheme of my fly fishing I rarely fish for anything over 10lbs so it was great just to feel that weight and power on the other end. Watching a 20lb trout run, jump and thrash with the rod hopping and reel screaming was some of the best craic I’ve had fly fishing!

I chose a method at the start of day one which I stuck with each day I fished. I blind fished a weighted streamer (possum and marabou of course!) on a long leader fished on a floating line. This worked well because I could get the fly deep with some simple mends. Depth was key for me to blind fish the deeper water. A sinking line can be a disaster with heavy didymo and large boulders so more reason to use a floater. I love the control with this method. I can get the fly to the depth I want and make it move how I want. Not so easy with a sinking line since you lose much of your ability to mend. Dead drifting the streamer through deep bouldery runs or moving it slowly was the most effective for me. 9 out of my 10 trout over 3 days were bright, healthy hens. Just what I wanted. I saw some fellas happy to fish for coloured up jacks off redds at the tails of pools. This was not for me but each to their own. I did throw a few casts at these fish but when I got the feeling that they were spawners I left them alone. One thing I learned from this trip was that I really dislike fishing with egg flies – so I didn’t!

In more recent news – the new season has been fantastic so far! Some very big fish about too. I’ve already had 2 over the mythical 10lb mark. More about those and the season to date in my next blog. The boat has not been out yet but I do have an engine on the back of it now so I’m just waiting for the opportunity to get out there. I’ve had a couple of very successful guide days with clients landing trout to 8lbs. Some more work coming up too so very happy about that! Myself and Jeff have another epsiode of Pure Fly NZ coming up soon. We have a plan to watch it at the pub since neither of us have whatever channel it’s on. Duke I think. I’m looking forward to watching it. We had a some great action. It’s always a lot of fun filming with Jeff and Nick. We’re all on the same page. Anybody within NZ who’d like to get in touch about some guided fly fishing, I’d love to hear from you. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website. For a look at some of my fly patterns available at Fulling Mill click here.

Tight lines.. Ronan..

New Flies for Fulling Mill..

October 5th, 2020 No comments

A new season has begun. With it sees the start of my involvement with Fulling Mill. They got in touch with me about a year ago about filling some gaps in their range of flies to suit NZ rivers. I agreed to help. My fly design has always been about simplicity. I see no need for elaborate, time consuming flies. There are a few key features that are important and as long as these are met, the fly will work. For a nymph the most important features (or triggers) are size, profile and to a lesser extent colour. When tying for myself – usually the night before a trip – I’d rattle up a few flies to fit this bill. The colour often varied depending on my mood or whatever materials were at hand but the sizes and profiles rarely wavered. Tying for Fulling Mill I had to keep true to this and basically come up with some set patterns based on what I tie for myself. I got to work and 3 patterns were selected for the 2021 catalog. With these 3 patterns in my box I’m confident that I’d be covered for at least 75% of my own river nymphing needs. Add a few unweighted PT nymphs and your getting there! Of course theres always scope to add, adjust and improve as new ideas come along so hopefully I’ll add to this small collection in the future.

One thing that I really pushed for right from the start was to have the strongest hooks available used in my nymphs. There is nothing worse than losing a trout because a fly opens out. My patterns are tied on the very reliable Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight hooks. The same gauge and shape as a Kamasan B175 which I have always raved about. I’ve been putting the samples to the test and have had no issues with these hooks.

Here’s an explanation of each fly and how it came to be.

The Hotspot Nymph. This fly was designed with a few things in mind. Firstly, the hot spot makes the fly stand out. Great for coloured water – a regular variable in NZ with frequent rain events. Secondly, depth. This fly is tied in a 10 and a 12 with a tungsten bead to suit. Great for getting down quickly in deep or fast water. Thirdly, as a carrier. Very often this fly is too big to catch wily NZ trout so I use it’s weight to get a smaller, more imitative fly to depth. Deadly in conjunction with my claret nymph in a size 16. I tie it on a 12″ dropper off the bend of the Hotspot nymph. This double nymph rig is usually fished 3 to 5 feet under a buoyant dry or indicator.

The Brown Nymph. My go-to nymph. This fly is tied for general use. If I’m not sure what to put on, I put this on! Tied in a 12 and a 14 it’s often small and imitative enough to to be fished without a trailing smaller nymph. This makes it easy to manage under my dry or indicator. This is a great imitation of common NZ mayfly nymphs but equally successuful as a general imitator of trout food.

The Claret Nymph. This is a multi purpose fly. Tied in a 14 and a 16 this fly is imitative of much of the food in a trouts diet. In slow water it can be fished singly but in faster water I usually trail it off a larger heavier fly to get it to depth. I have caught more fish on this fly in NZ than any other. On one river it has accounted for 5 double figure browns so this little fly is not to be underestimated. This is a deadly pattern on light tippet for spooky, difficult trout. It’s also one of my go-to flies to suspend under a dry for lake edge cruisers.

Some of you reading this might be thinking “what about caddis stuff”.. Fair thought! Personally I never get too excited about caddis flies. They are certainly part of a trouts diet but any of the nymphs mentioned above will catch a caddising trout. It comes back to size and profile. A fish that’s eating small brown caddis nymphs will eat a well presented small brown or claret nymph – even if the profile is geared slightly more towards mayfly nymphs. That said, there are times when specifics in a fly are important and with that comes the endless list of flies that you can add to your box!

These patterns are now available to buy on the Fulling Mill site. Click here to have a look! Hopefully you’ll put a few in your flybox for this brand new NZ season. I wish you the same success that I have had with them. Feel free to get in touch with any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear.

Plenty space available for guided trips this season! For those of you reading within NZ, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to drop me a line to get the ball rolling. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website

Tight Lines, Ronan..

My New Boat!

September 28th, 2020 No comments

Guy found this boat, engine and trailer for sale in the local paper. It was an absolute bargain so he wasted no time and went over with enough cash to secure the deal. Guy has a boat already so this was surplus to requirement but he knew I’d love it. When he said to come over and get it I was not expecting such a stunning boat in such great condition. I was blown away. This boat is the beginning of an exciting new chapter. Family holidays will be much more adventurous with this in tow. She will also open up opportunities for exploring NZ lakes. Watch this space! I’ll pick up the engine soon and she’ll be good to go. Hopefully I’ll have the whole crew out for he maiden voyage. I can’t thank Guy enough for making this happen.

The boat, which has no name yet, is fibreglass over ply and solid timber. It looks extremely well built. It was a sailboat but has been converted to carry an outboard instead of sails, which suits me. I’ve had a checkered past with sailboats.

Plenty spaces available for the coming season. If you’re living in NZ and have been thinking about some guided fly fishing this is the season to maximise on it. Feel free to get in touch to chat about what I can do for you. Contact me via my website or at ronan@sexyloops.com

Tight lines, Ronan..

Tying flies and exploring water!

August 18th, 2020 No comments

I’ve been getting out as much as possible this winter. I’m busy with upkeep of the house and the 2 kids but making a decent amount of time to get out on the water. Sometimes not even carrying a rod! I spent a couple of days just walking small streams and still waters to see if they’d be worth fishing in October. Totally new water. Even though I saw very few fish the quality of the water looked great. One section which I cant wait to revisit in October was a continuous string of pools and runs over about 2kms. So much fishable water in a short stretch that I reckon there could almost be a full day fishing on it. I just hope the fish show up in October when it opens. Why I saw no fish there I just don’t know. Maybe they’re still way upstream spawning? I hope so. It’s usual for trout to make no sense!

I’ve been tying streamers and buggers for a few upcoming trips too. On a day out with Chris and Jeff recently I realised I had only one decent streamer in my box! Even if I think I’ve run out I can generally scrape a few from some corner of the storage boxes in the back of the truck, but not on this day. The one I had I quickly lost but Jeff sorted me out and I managed to catch a few fish! That was a super day actually. The fishing was okay but great to catch up with 2 good friends on the river.

I had one guide day too. The first one since March 23rd! A very enjoyable day with John. He was about to fly back to the states after a season working on the vineyards and just managed to fit in a day with me. He landed a brown and rainbow and lost a few more. A very enjoyable day out!

I did some more filming with Jeff and Nick for the next series of Pure Fly NZ. Plenty fish landed but were going back soon for a couple of days to see if we can land something big!

Thats all for now.. Some fishing trips on the horizon so hopefully more fish in the next report!

If you’re in NZ and would like to chat about some guided fishing, please contact me through my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com.

Tight Lines, Ronan..

A few days winter fishing..

July 10th, 2020 No comments

It’s hard to get time to fish at the moment! Iza is very busy with work which means I’m looking after the kids. I’m also putting a lot of effort into restoring our house and making furniture for it. I enjoy the tools almost as much as fishing. Its easier to work on the house if I have a 2 hour window because winter fishing options very close to Alexandra are limited. So I need at least half a day free to get out for a decent fish. I think I’ll do a lot more fishing once August comes around. I’ll put the home restoration project on pause and concentrate on fishing again. I also need to make time to finish restoring mine and Shotgun Kevin’s old boat, Daltona.

I’ve had a few days out since the last report. Unfortunately I have not seen any really big rainbows this winter. I heard the big fish ran early (back in March). The deluge of rain last February may have triggered this. The fishing was decent every day I was out with fish to about 5lbs.

I had a very enjoyable live chat with Justin Spence and Matt Klara from Big Sky Anglers on Instagram recently. We chatted about my approach to guiding and fishing in NZ. Here is a link if you’d like to watch it!

There has been some positive talk about opening up our borders to Australian tourists so hopefully by October I’ll be back in business. Feel free to get in touch to chat about a trip! Contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines – Ronan..

A Wilderness Float Trip Adventure…

June 12th, 2020 No comments

Every now and then the prospect of a fishing trip is incredibly exciting – more than the average trip. I get that buzz if I’m going abroad to experience a new fishery, or exploring new water, maybe in a new wilderness area. I think the key word is new. Seeing a piece of water for the first time is always exhilarating. A trip myself and Bryan put together last January was one of these. One of these with bells on! Not just one piece of water to explore but lots. We pooled our resources and planned a wilderness float trip. NZ was our oyster! Where do we go? After studying google earth for ages I had an idea. I knew very little about the chosen system which included lakes, rivers, streams and backwaters but that was the point. Some real adventure! We took plenty safety precautions. We went in with one sat phone and a PLB each, life jackets, raft repair kit, plenty food and first aid kits. The NZ wilderness is no place to take lightly. The river looked pretty safe to raft on google earth. Once everything was prepared and packed, it was time to hit the road to get the helicopter into the wilds!

On arrival, the pilot came out to greet us. As we chatted he gestured towards the raft fully assembled on the trailer and asked if that was the pack raft – sarcastically of course. There was a breakdown in communications in our correspondence. They thought pack rafts and we though they could sling-load the 40kg raft in. It turned out that they can’t sling load with passengers and even if they could it would be a very slow and therefore expensive trip. No problem though! We disassembled the raft and the pilot easily got it onto the back seats and into the pod on the side of the helicopter. We were off!

The flight in was spectacular. They always are. Mountains, rivers, forest and then our destination became visible. The weather was good and excitement was hard to contain. We landed and got our bearings. We had a rough plan for the 3 days. I had marked every place of interest on NZ topo 50. To fit them all in we had to get cracking. Once I reassembled the raft the trip was underway..

The fishing on day one was pretty poor. Lovely lake flats with only a few small trout. Then a river to explore. Lots of potential and reasonable numbers of mostly old looking trout – spooky trout! Some of the spookiest. We blanked on that river, but it was a magical spot and I’ll certainly have another go sometime. A few riffles and runs but mostly glass calm, slow moving pools. There were some stunning big lake like pools too but these were inaccessible due to treacherous soft silt.

After fishing the river we had a pretty major piece of water to cover to get to camp. Lots of rowing and drifting. The rain had come in as we fished the stream and it kept coming. As we travelled down the system the un-forecasted rain got heavier. Our gear and ourselves were getting soaked, even through rain gear. Camping outside was not too appealing at this stage but thankfully there was a backcountry hut not too far downstream. We jumped out now and again to fish likely water but the rain was getting to the point that the hut really started to beckon. With the GPS function on NZ Topo 50 it was easy to find the hut. We pulled up the raft and secured it to a tree well up a sandy bank in case the river rose with the rain. Once we got the gear into our home for the night we could relax a bit. I got the fire going while Bryan put on the spuds, then we hung up all the wet gear – almost everything! We demolished a couple of rib eyes with black beans and spuds. Some nice wine too. We slept well to the sound of rain even if we were a little anxious about the state of the river in the morning.

Day 2. The raft was still safely secured to the tree. The river had doubled in size over night but was perfectly clear and fishable. This was a huge relief since the rain didn’t quit until after we ate breakfast. With great excitement we took on the river. We started blind fishing all likely water and Bryan quickly got a nice 3lber to put us on the board. Then I hooked and lost a better fish and sighted another. As the sun broke through the clouds the cicadas started chirping and the trout responded. We had a spectacular few hours of fishing in the afternoon. One spot took us ages to pass because every time our flies passed the drop-off a trout would eat the fly. Dream fishing. All beautiful, healthy 3 to 7lb trout and mostly on a large Stu’s Cicada. The water was quite diverse in its make up. Lots of bouldery pocket water, some large pools, sandy glides, cut banks and fallen trees. A real wild river. We were sad to have to leave it to continue our mission downstream but we had more water to explore in our limited timeframe. The thrill of new water never waned and once we were back on the raft we couldn’t wait to see what was around the next bend. Before we made it to the next camp spot we had some good fishing on a small, tannin tributary. Very interesting spot. I got a follow from the same fish to my streamer about 10 times without an eat. Bryan had a nymph a foot under a dry. I suggested that I’d tease the trout in and then remove my fly quickly so that Bryan could cast to the fish. It worked a charm and the trout took the nymph while wondering where the glister disappeared to!

Back on the raft it was time to think about making camp. We had heard about a bushman living somewhere in the valley and that he didn’t mind a visitor. When we saw smoke coming from a chimney we decided to go and investigate. Sure enough it was Bruce. He opened the door with a big smile on his face and invited us into his house – which he said nobody owned and we were welcome to stay. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth we did stay. The craic was great! We took out our bag of wine and filled up everyones cup, steaks on the pan, cheese and crackers to start. This was one of those unforgettable experiences and we both knew it and made the most of it. Bruce regaled us with stories about many topics from eels to DoC to politics to topless women. We tried to take it all in while adding a story or two of our own.

Day 3. In the morning we had breakfast together before taking on our respective days. There were a few flags on my map yet to explore. Bruce was able to put me wise about which ones to avoid – not because there were no trout there necessarily, but due to the logistics of bush-bashing in to them. We said goodbye to Bruce but he said he’d be down to the helicopter later to chat to the pilot and to see us off. He took off down the river with his 15hp while we took a more leisurely pace. Over the day we found some really nice water. A pool with a waterfall that really must be right up the with the most beautiful places I’ve caught a trout, a backwater off the main river with lots of eager but pretty small trout. The size really didn’t matter to us though. The location and the quality of the fishing more than made up for that. Then a tiny spring creek with some quality trout that we didn’t catch and finally another lake edge to explore while we waited for the chopper. About half way through the day the rain made another appearance and quickly closed in to the extent that we weren’t sure if the helicopter could fly. Bryan got on the sat phone when they were a bit late only to get no solid information – they weren’t sure either! The pilot was stuck somewhere due to the weather and fuel was an issue. A short time later we heard the helicopter in the distance. He landed and seemed a little panicked by the weather closing in and fuel was indeed an issue. The helicopter had no pod on the side this time, so we quickly loaded everything onto the back seat of the helicopter. It was a tight enough squeeze but no problem. After we said farewell to Bruce it was time to go. Bryan and I both fitted in the front. At first the pilot thought he’d have to drop us to a road about 50ks from my truck but thankfully as we flew we caught a gap in the weather and made it back to the heliport. Absolutely pissing rain again, we hurriedly unloaded the helicopter and jammed everything into the back of the truck – far from the tidy truck that arrived here a few days ago. A quick change into dry clothes and we were heading home. What a trip – certainly, one of the best.

Let me know if you’d like to book a trip for next season. With all the uncertainty in the world right now my season is filling slowly so there are plenty spaces available. Email me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website. I do not offer guided float trips by they way! But for anybody interested in this style of fishing you should contact Wanaka based Greg Dougherty.

Tight Lines! Ronan..

The End of Lockdown…

May 20th, 2020 No comments

After 5 weeks of lockdown I was itching to get back at the rivers. We dropped back to level 3 only three days before the brown trout rivers closed. I managed to get one full day on day 1, a brief session while walking the kids on day 2 and a 3 hour session on day 3. The full day was just brilliant. I got to the river with a one hour walk downstream to complete before fishing back to the truck. I was at a jogging pace to get to the start of the beat – I just couldn’t wait. Straight away the fishing was good. The fish were out and feeding and holding where fish should hold. Thankfully the incredible weather all through lockdown held up for another day. Blue skies and no wind all day. Absolute bliss and I didn’t see another angler. I had 12 for the day and broke in 5 or 6 more because I ran out of my usual tippet. Very frustrating using bad tippet! A fantastic day regardless. I had decided in the morning that if I could get 2 decent trout near the truck I’d take them for dinner. Not something I usually do but as long as I know there are plenty trout about I don’t mind taking one or two on occasion. I got one with the truck in sight and had to work pretty hard for the second but got him in the end. They fed 4 adults and 2 kids and included a cold smoked fillet as a starter. There is something very special about feeding the family with freshly caught, wild trout.

One good thing that came from the lockdown was spending time with the kids when I’d otherwise have been working. Our daily walks were along the river where I’d frustrate myself looking at feeding trout. The crazy thing is I had never even seen this section of river that flows through the town. Local lockdown walks were the reason I got to check it out. It’s lovely water. I didn’t see heaps of trout there but there were enough. Unfortunately there was little chance to carry the rod on the local walks due to level 4 lockdown rules (no fishing!). Now that we can fish the season is closed (apart from the aforementioned 3 days.). Next season, whenever I get a day off, and there may well be many, I’ll be taking the kids for a walk and taking the rod. By then Adaline will be old enough to reel in a fish herself. Lochlan might be too.

We’re into the winter season now. There are still many rivers open til the end of May. Once June starts just a few large rivers and most of the lakes remain open. Plenty though. I’m looking forward to getting out whenever I get a chance. The kids have severely disrupted my fishing if you haven’t already guessed that! I’ve had a few outings recently. I didn’t catch many myself but the folks with me did pretty well. The first tug from a large winter rainbow woke me as I drifted off to sleep last night! That will tell you whats on my mind. Dying to get stuck in a large migrating rainbow – one of the highlights of my season. The next fishing on the agenda will hopefully be filming another episode for Pure Fly NZ with my comrade Jeff Forsee and fly fishing film legend, Nick Reygaert. We have a few ideas.

I recently did a podcast with Daire Whelan from Ireland On The Fly. I never did one before so I was a bit nervous. However, here is a link for anybody who’d like a listen. Or you can use this link. I’ll be doing something similar on Instagram soon – a live chat with Justin Spence in Montana. I guided Justin and his friend Dan last season. Justin needed no guidance really, I’d just take him to the river and he’d know what to do. Certainly one of the great fly fishermen! For our Instagram session were just going to chat about fly fishing! More on this when I know more.

Feel free to get in touch with any questions about guided trips next season or this season if you live in NZ. You can contact me on ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines… Ronan..