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Archive for the ‘Expedition’ Category

The Wilds of New Zealand…

March 29th, 2023 No comments

I usually get the chance to get into Fjordland once or twice a season. I’ve been a visitor to the area since my second trip to NZ back in 2003. I have many great memories from this vast area with lots of my fishing buddies. Wekas stealing our biscuits (I got the blame), melting my boots and socks beside the fire, almost getting stranded in a flood, filming “the man and his fish”, exploring new rivers, assembling a raft with zip ties, duct tape and tent string, catching seatrout, rainbows, browns, kahawai and jack mackerel, and many more… This trip cemented a few more great memories.

The fishing was magnificent as the photos below make pretty clear, but as I get older I think I appreciate this location and others like it even more. It’s a truely pristine environment. Looking around, it’s as though man has had no impact on the area. Frequently, I found myself gazing up the valley with my jaw hanging open, awestruck, expecting a moa to wander past. I think this is what makes it the cream of angling in many ways. Unreal scenery, gin clear water, good numbers fish of an impressive average size, keen to eat dries (and nymphs!). It’s the picture of NZ that many foreign anglers have in their head. Fish & Game have implemented strict controls on some rivers in the area to prevent overfishing and maximise angler satisfaction. I think they’re working very well. That and the sandflies! We had a few days of fishing back in normal NZ after that (next blog). There was certainly a bit of an anticlimax coming from such a magnificent wilderness which compounds why it’s such a special place.

One of the highlights of the trip was randomly bumping into my great friends Robbie and Tom with a couple of their friends. Plenty room for everyone at the backcountry hut! Good food and fine wine, great company, a fire on the beach, a few beers, plenty craic… what’s not to like. A really great trip. Hopefully we’ll get back next season!

I would like to say that Fjordland Outdoors are a fantastic company to deal with. Very professional and accommodating. Great staff and a super boat to get you where ever you need to go.

As always, my Fulling Mill patterns did the business. Mainly the Tussock Cicada and my range of nymphs. All available here.

Plenty spaces still available for next season. It’s filling up quickly so I advise not wasting too much time to secure your spot. Contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website

Tight lines.. Ronan..

The Flat Tire.

March 20th, 2023 No comments

In 8 years guiding I never had a flat tire. Then I got a good one! The tire disintegrated beyond repair. No big deal, just put on the spare. Luckily I had a second spare but it wasn’t on a rim. The problem was getting it onto the spare rim so that I could continue working as normal. I didn’t want to chance going off the grid without a spare tire. The next day was Sunday so we changed the plan and fished locally with the intention of getting my other spare tire put on the rim the following morning once the mechanics opened. 8am on Monday we arrived at the mechanic to have the job done so that we could head into the backcountry. Turned out it was a feckin’ public holiday so we had to spend another day without going too far from home just in case we got another flat! Thankfully, the fishing was good!! 8am on Tuesday we arrived at the mechanic for the second time. Steve had the spare on the rim in jig time and were on the way after 10 minutes. Of course, normally I’d have been on the road an hour earlier. We got to the river to find the first beat occupied. No problem I thought, I wanted the 2nd beat anyway.. We got there to find we had just been beaten to that one too! Plan C was decent but we had a big fish in mind and it didn’t really cut the mustard. We waited 4 hours and then fished behind the anglers on our favoured beat. We found 2 fish, both of whom almost took the fly… but didn’t. That feckin’ flat tire really changed how our fishing unfolded. Such is life. I got a full new set since!

You can check out many of my flies over on the Fulling Mill website. I have 14 patterns available, all tried and trusted for NZ and they’ve been pretty successful around the world too.

Plenty spots available for next season and bookings are coming in regularly. Feel free to get in touch. You can contact me on ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines – Ronan..

Finally – Some Rain!

February 22nd, 2023 No comments

The lakes and rivers were already too low and warm a month ago when I last wrote. Nothing changed. Just continuing hot weather and warming, shrinking rivers and lakes. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it certainly made me think outside the box for guiding and my own fishing. Lots of rivers and still-waters became unfishable so I travelled to find cooler water. Living in a desert – which this area technically is – means I have to do that at times. I think this has been the longest dry spell I’ve experienced in NZ. It must be about 10 weeks or more since we’ve had any decent rain.

Yesterday afternoon the rain started and continued through the night and only stopped about an hour ago. I think there’s a lot more coming later today. It was cold too, so just what the place needs. The rivers are getting a much needed top-up and cool-down. This might be the beginning of Autumn and I hope it is. It will certainly invigorate the fishing and open many options which haven’t been available for a couple of months.

Fishing has been generally quite hard. Even when searching out cooler water there was still a noticeable shutdown in the afternoons. Some lake flats that usually stay cool were also suffering the effects of the heat. It’s funny that January and February are the most popular months over here with foreign anglers, yet they’re regularly, even usually, the hardest months of the season in many parts of the country.

In spite of the relative hardship in the last couple of months there has also been some magnificent fishing. Large rivers, lower reaches, lakes and mountain streams all provided some super sport.

I’m still playing catch up with my photos – Everything below is from January. It would just be too many to put in the February photos too, but I’ll try to write another blog next week to catch up completely.

I recently got my hands on a Fujifilm XE-3. I’m still learning how to use it well but I think its improved my picture taking. I hope you like the images below. I’m pretty happy with lots of them. It’s a new learning curve which I’m enjoying. The old Lumix point and shoot is now a handy back-up.

Pretty much all the successful flies I’m using at the moment are my own patterns available with Fulling Mill. You can check them out here.

The remainder of the season is full apart from a few gaps in April. Plenty spaces for next season but it’s filling up more quickly than usual. Feel free to get in touch – ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines – Ronan..

Too Dam Hot!

January 21st, 2023 No comments

The season is hurtling along! Here we are in January already. This can certainly be the hardest month of the regular trout season. Rivers get low and warm. Trout can get extra spooky and sometimes stop feeding in the afternoons. It’s very important to know which rivers to avoid so as to prevent undue stress on trout. Catching a trout in a warm river can easily kill it. With the farmers draining all but the last drop out of the local river it’s basically unfishable due to warming. It’s likely to stay that way for at least a few more weeks, maybe months. I have to turn my attention to cooler rivers and lakes. We need rain to top up and cool down the rivers but there’s none in the forecast. I have a very busy time coming up with some regular clients and I have formulated a good plan – I hope!

On a positive note, the fishing has been very good so far this season. Happy clients and I’ve managed to get out myself a few times. I had a day out on a dam recently with a morning of fishing to rival just about any dry fly fishing I’ve had. Green beetles on the water and trout feeding on them. Not sight fishing, fishing to rises – even better! Spending so much time guiding on the rivers has made me love the lakes even more. That’s what I want on my days off right now and this day really delivered. Engrossing fishing – moving quickly to intercept fish with fast, accurate casts. At least, that was the objective! Putting a fly in front of a tracking trout is so exhilarating – will he take it?? These’s nothing else going through my mind as that fish is hopefully continuing to track towards my fly. I can’t see him. The cast is based on where he’s most likely to be heading based on the previous rise or rises. To see that head come out of the dark water and confidently take my dry… just magic. 5 out of 6 fish that morning took me well into my backing. I play fish hard and I generally only see my backing once or maybe twice a season so this was just unreal. A breeze got up in the afternoon and the rises almost stopped. I wanted to go and check out a bay I like in the wind. I tried to drive there but ended up getting bogged. It was quite an ordeal to get it unstuck but thanks to Don from Wanaka we got it out. Probably took 5 hours all up! Still a great day. I went back for a day since and parts of the lake were very warm. Guy and I found decent fishing in cooler bays but the number of rising trout compared to the number of flies on the surface told me that most fish were already retreating to the deep. It’s too dam hot!

I’ve got another 7 patterns available with Fulling Mill. This makes the range of flies a pretty comprehensive one for NZ. They’ll cover you for just about anything you’re likely to encounter. With willow grubs in full swing on southern rivers and cicadas winding up, there’s a couple of reasons to check out the new patterns. You can see them all here.

The photos below are from December so I’ll have to get another blog out soon to catch up on the more recent stuff. I’m trying not to overload my blog with pictures!!

Still some gaps in April and plenty next season. You can contact me ronan@exyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines.. Ronan..

Back to Work!

December 6th, 2022 No comments

It’s great to be busy guiding again after a couple of hard years. November was a challenging month to guide. Not many nice days! Lots of rain and stormy conditions. The rivers were regularly coloured up as a result. Now and again I had to use lakes and still waters to keep my clients on the fish – but of course I adore this type of fishing so for me it’s not really a plan B, it’s just another option. All up it was a successful month through bad weather. I enjoy the challenge of finding good, clear water to fish through these rain events and I’m yet to cancel a guide day due to weather or water conditions. There’s always water to fish!

Fish were a little leaner than usual earlier on in the season. I put it down to the harsh winter and more specifically a monster flood last July which completely changed many parts of my local rivers. Some of my favourite beats were unrecognisable when I went back to fish them with dad in October. Fish numbers and quality certainly suffered as a result. It was really heartbreaking at times. Walking upstream and not even knowing where I was on the beat. Large corner pools gone – pools that I never thought would move. Long sections of pools and bends bulldozed straight and useless by 460 cumecs. I’ve been using all my spare time trying to get out there to rediscover them and find out where is or is not worth fishing. Thankfully I’m getting a good handle on where is fishing well. Fish are in good condition once again and the rivers are starting to get comfortable with their new courses. Certainly my biggest fear going forward are these huge floods. Hundred year floods they call them… the annual hundred year flood I call them! The flood in July did so much damage around the country. I can’t imaging what 2 or even 3 of these events in a short space of time could do. Utter destruction to rivers and fish populations. I have already been hearing some sad stories from the top of the South Island. Anyway, right now the rivers down here are recovering well and fish numbers are still healthy in most of the rivers. Many rivers were unaffected, thankfully.

My own fishing was pretty limited through November because I was so busy with work. I did get out for a relaxing few hours before a 10 day straight stint. Also one big day through a gorge on my annual pilgramige to catch up with my old friend. Check out the full story here. It’s well worth a read!

The gallery below covers the highlights of a busy month of guiding. I was out most days and now I’m taking a few much needed days off. When I get a chance I’ll put together an account of my time fishing with dad in September and October. We fished 26 days so it certainly warrants its own report!

You can check out my fly patterns, the ones I use on a daily basis over here on the Fulling Mill website. If you’re within NZ I may be able to help you out with a deal. Just let me know. I currently have 7 patterns available in various sizes but I expect to have 7 more patterns available next month.

My season ahead is pretty much full – There may be a gap here or there although I know April still has gaps. Feel free to get in touch about guided fishing this season or next (which is already filling up). Contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines.. Ronan..

Fishing Never Stops…

September 25th, 2022 No comments

This has been a real winter. One of the harshest I’ve been here for. Lots of wind, rain, frost and snow – so different to the mild winter last year. Usually by July the fishing on the lakes starts to improve, but this year it took a lot longer. Locally, the lake fishing only picked up earlier this month. Mackenzie Country a little earlier in August. There were always a few fish to be caught but they took more persistence and some were on the lean side. I really don’t mind not catching many fish in a day – or any for that matter. I enjoy the search, trying to figure it out, working hard to put it together. It is a bit a kick in the balls when I can’t figure it out but this is part of continuing to learn – or adjusting what I already know – or think I know! Afterwards, I’ll consider what I might have missed and think about what I’ll try next time. There were days this winter when the fish really seemed “off”… like there was little or nothing I could do to drag out a result.

I have my parents here at the moment so dad and I are fishing most days. This is exactly what I need after a tough few months of colds, flus and covid in the family – and a bad injury to recover from after a dog bit my face. The fishing has been excellent so far – mainly because we have my boat to make the most of the lakes. More about this in my next blog as I haven’t downloaded any photos yet! We’re heading north tomorrow for a few days and then the rivers will open again on October 1. So, I have a very full on 5 weeks of fishing ahead with dad and then guiding kicks off full bore in November. Happy times! The rivers are looking good now after being high and dirty for much of the last few months..

This is a good time to stock up on nymphs, dries and streamers for the coming season. Some of my most successful patterns are available on Fulling Mill. They’re all designed for the NZ fishery and well tested!! I’m very happy to say that I’ll have 7 more patterns available next year.

Still a gap or 2 in the coming season if you’d like to book some guided fly fishing. Contact me – ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines all and enjoy the new season! Ronan..

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.