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Posts Tagged ‘Big brown trout’

Heli-Fishing!

February 27th, 2019 No comments

Heli-fishing is a tough one! For me, it’s often very stressful. When people are spending the extra 2 or 3k for this mode of transport to the river, I do my best to get them value for money. I usually spend unpaid hours trolling through weather reports, getting info from mates, emailing and phoning heli companies; whatever it takes to remove as much uncertainty as possible. It’s a bit of a catch 22 too. The whole reason for heli fishing is to get to a remote, rarely fished location but as a guide I need to know the river well. I can’t afford to fly in to locations on a reconnoiter mission and walking could take days (Which I’d love to do but don’t have time!) so learning the rivers sometimes happens on my clients time. I make no secret of this. If I’ve never been to the river, I’ll tell my client. I have faith in my abilities to read the river and to deliver a great day but the intimate knowledge of a section of river which begins at about 5 visits takes time to achieve.

There are no guarantees with heli-fishing. I have not had a bad heli trip yet but its certainly possible. Flying in doesn’t mean we’ll have the river to ourselves. I inform my clients that if we arrive to find anglers who’ve walked in then they have the right of way – first choice of water. I always ask the pilot to fly above and below where we intend to fish in search of other fishermen in an attempt to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Some helicopter options are used by more than one heli company so its possible that another party could arrive before or after you. Just recently a chopper dropped off fishermen 3kms above my party right into the best spot on the river. We had pretty tough fishing outside the “golden mile” but everyone understood that this can happen and we all had a super trip regardless – though we all felt the sting of loosing the cream of the river! On that 3 day trip where we fished 11ks of river (actually 10 subtracting the good bit) we only landed 5 trout. My point is that heli fishing doesn’t guarantee great fishing or lots of fish. The nature of the remoteness and the often fickle ways of backcountry rivers means that a lot is left to chance.

Having outlined the risks I think it’s important to talk about my actual experience with heli fishing. Once all the planning is done and we board to fly in it’s great fun! It’s the ultimate way to look around this unbelievably beautiful country which I’m so lucky to live in. Only twice have I encountered other anglers and both times a fairly positive outcome was achieved for both parties from a friendly meeting. Heli fishing has been very good overall but little or no better than rivers I can drive to. The one thing that heli fishing does guarantee is that you will be fishing in a remote and beautiful environment. The rivers are usually crystal clear flowing through spectacular and dramatic landscapes. Heli fishing usually requires a pretty high level of fitness. Most backcountry rivers require a lot of walking to get a decent number of shots at trout and the terrain is often bouldery and difficult. To get the most from a heli fishing experience its best to stay in for 2 or 3 days and go hard. It’s about the whole experience from the flight in and out, to the walking, to the trout, to the environment. It is fun!

It’s been a great month or so of guiding since my last blog. Plenty dry fly action and pretty good weather. Great people too! Justin Spence from Big Sky Anglers was over with his friend, Dan. The lads gave it hell for a week smashing some of my guiding records. Justin is one of the best fishermen I’ve met. We were very much on the same page with our fly fishing philosophy and understanding. I’m pretty excited about staying connected with him and his business in Montana. If your thinking about a trip to his neck of the woods I can’t imagine that there’s a better guide out there to take care of you. You can check out his website here

It was great to see Tom Doc Sullivan over from Ireland for a month. We fished together about 25 years ago on Lough Corrib and now in NZ. He’s already planning a return journey next year. He’s been bitten by the bug! See you next year, Tom! The box of stuff you left will still be in the garage.. apart from the mug, I swiped that.. and the headlamp. 

The fishing in the last week has been some of the hardest all season! I hope it picks up soon.. The pics in this blog don’t include the very recent stuff. I might have a chance to edit a short film for the next blog too. 

Still a few places in March and plenty in April if your thinking about a visit! See my website or email me for bookings and information, ronan@sexyloops.com

Tight lines,

    Ronan..

It’s All About Attitude!

January 14th, 2019 No comments

If fly fishing for you is all about hooking, playing and landing fish then New Zealand is not for you. The New Zealand fishery, certainly the South Island, is much more about the pursuit of trout then it is about catching high numbers. I’ve been really lucky in my guiding so far in that I have rarely guided people with unreasonable expectations. I got a text from one of my guide mates the other day in the middle of a multi day trip with a fella who cant walk far or cast well but expects fish after fish. When he does catch the experience means little to him and he doesn’t like seeing his wife out-fishing him. His own abilities coupled with a negative attitude are making sure that he’s not catching many or having much fun. A situation like this is tough for the angler and the guide. All we want is to see our clients having a great time. If the client has the right attitude then he’ll generally do very well. Understanding a bit about the NZ fishery is a huge help. It’s no walk in the park, its usually windy and as outlined already it’s not a numbers game. Practice casting, short and medium distances. Speed and accuracy is the key. The rivers and lakes can be pretty hard going physically. Of course, if a client is unfit then we can design a trip to suit but the fishing may be compromised. In my opinion, 2 fish is a good day. Four is really good and above that is cream. I try to go for fish bigger than the NZ average most of the time which might help put these figures in perspective.

Recently I had the pleasure of guiding KC and Mark. Both in their early 70’s, they said they were 4/5 US fit and 3/5 NZ fit. They’d been here before! Day one we had an easy day, mainly so that I could get a feel for their approach to fly fishing and their fitness. Straight away I could see that their attitude was great. Really positive with a true understanding about what fly fishing really is. They were also as tough as old boots. This was going to be a fun trip! There were times over the 8 days that fishing was tough. Early in the trip I was feeling the tingle of stress that I can’t help feeling when the fishing is hard. I’d look back at the lads to see smiles, contentment and enjoyment. They were enjoying it, no matter what. That was the end of any stress for me and the fishing went from good to better and better. Even with wading through acres of mud, bush bashing, long hard walks and tricky crossings, I could not knock the smiles off their faces. The trip is documented in the photos below. They could cast very well and they were fit giving them a huge advantage over many, but their biggest attribute was their attitude. Thanks fellas!

Tight lines, Ronan..

Still some availability in March and plenty in April. Visit my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com

Singapore’s Finest!

December 13th, 2018 No comments

I thought when I was writing my last blog that the weather would change for the better before too long. It didn’t. In fact, it got worse. I have never seen a spring like this and neither have any of my fishing buddies. It’s been thunderstorm after thunderstorm. Many rivers have not had to chance to drop in the last month. Guiding has been hard because of this. The difficulty has not been on the water – that has been surprisingly good and even great! The difficulty has been in the decision making. Watching river flows and looking for windows where a river might drop enough to be fishable before the next rain knocks it out again. Many times I simply avoided the rivers and fished the lakes. Rising rivers, even if they’re clear, often produce poor results as fish “go to ground”.  As reliable as the lakes are, some of them have suffered a bit too. With such huge volumes of muddy water entering some lakes even they have become unfishable, at least in parts. However, no matter what mother nature throws at us there will always be clear water to fish. I just have to find the best, most interesting and enjoyable bits! So far it’s worked out pretty well.

It’s funny how fate takes over some times. I drove out of Omarama and took a left towards the Upper Ahuriri. That’s where we intended to fish. Chuan and Kim were following in their car. Wei Chong was with me. Chuan called me on the phone because he was unsure where we were headed. Wei Chong told him we’d slow right down so he could catch up. I had told him where we were going and he’d been there before so I wasn’t too worried about him loosing his way but something must have gotten lost in translation. We got to the turn off, parked up and got out. We stood by the road and waited – only for about a minute. As they approached we waved our arms in the air to be seen. Neither Kim or Chuan saw us as they passed at a good speed trying to catch us. We got back in the truck and followed. There was no point trying to catch up with them as I expected they’d pull over when they realised they’d gone too far. That they did but not till Tarras about 50ks from the turn of to the river! No phone coverage til that point didn’t help matters. At that stage we’d all been driving for 40 minutes putting us in a different region altogether with different fishing options. I had a quick check of the forecast and it suited a local high country river. Plan A was abandoned and we hit for the the hills!

The river was high with a little colour as I expected it would be. The sighting conditions were good but pool after pool went by without showing us a fish. Finally I spotted one in a very reliable pool. We had 4 rods, each with a different rig. The first shot went to the person with the correct rod in hand. Chuan was up! I adjusted the rig slightly to suit this opportunity exactly. There could be no mistake here. I had a feeling this might be the only chance of the day. I got into position with just my eyes popping over a mound of gold tailings to keep the fish in view. Chuan got into position but could not see the fish from river level. I relayed directions as clearly as I could. After a couple of casts Chuan knew where his fly needed to land. One cast almost spooked the fish but he returned to station, the next was on target and down went the dry. A little chaos ensued with quite a large jumping fish, then it tore off down river. We were on the outside of a long bend with nowhere to land the fish. Before we got too far down the bank into deep water I suggested we jump in the river and cross. “yes, yes lets do it” said Chuan. In we went. My waders took on a little water as we bounced on tippy toes across the river. I almost floated off but we made it across and then easily landed the fish. For me, that was the best fishing moment of all the days we fished. Chuan and I pushed to the limits but we came out on top. We saw no more fish that day which makes a fish like that all the more important. Not often do we come off a river with a 100% success rate! Who knows how the day would have gone if plan A had worked out. Sometimes we just go with the flow…

I wrote this 5 days ago. Since writing there has been an improvement in the weather and many rivers have had a chance to drop, some right back to normal but others will be high and unfishable for ages yet!

The highlights from the past month are in the photos below. Quite a lot of big browns in there!

If you’d like to talk to me about guided fly fishing in the lower South Island you can visit my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com. I still have availability from mid March to late April.

Tight Lines and Happy Christmas if I don’t get a blog out before then!

Ronan..

 

Some Thoughts About Big Trout…

December 3rd, 2015 No comments

I realised a year or two ago that fishing for really big trout is more about the fish than the fishing; while fishing for average sized or smaller trout is more about the fishing than the fish. Of course both can cross the divide into the other category but generally speaking this is true. For me at least. Really big NZ fish, say in the 8lbs plus class, are often really stunning here in Otago and worth the effort in hunting down. They are few and far between and very hard to catch. Not necessarily because they’re “smarter” than smaller fish (they’re not really!) but because they often take up lies that are very difficult to get a fly to. The bottom of a deep pool for example or under a submerged log, and sometimes they are just really really spooky! These very big fish wont be seen every time you fish a river, some days they may be out visibly feeding and once in a while they may take up a part of the pool where you can get an easy cast to. You just have to persist, be there at the right time. If you can get a fly to one of these big trout without spooking it at all, (there are varying degrees of “spooked”) you’re almost as likely to hook it as a 2lb trout from a riffle. Landing it of course is a whole other story. When it all comes together and you get one of these trophy trout into your net, it’s a real high. If it turns out to be one of the really beautiful fish it’s even better again!  Since the last blog I hunted down some of the big fellas with good success.

Jeff and Myself went and checked out some rivers on the west coast recently. We fished some water I had not seen for a few years. We had a mixed bag. One great river and one not so great but both were absolutely spectacular. The fishing is described in the photos below but there was one little event I’ll have to share with you. (sorry, Jeff!) We were given conflicting information regarding which gate to drive through to get to the river, I thought we were to go through the left gate, but we were told right.. so we both agreed to go right, at least we could come back if we were wrong, right? Jeff fumbled with the padlock before realising it was actually open and that the key we had didn’t fit it anyway. He opened the gate and I drove through. Jeff closed the gate after him and then I waited for a while, “whats the delay” I thought, as I jumped out of the truck. “Ronan, I fucked up” Jeff said. He had closed the padlock and we had no key to open it. There we were, miles from anywhere with the truck locked on the wrong side of the gate. Some Irish/American ingenuity prevailed, much of it inspired by a Macgyver episode I had seen years ago. We managed to open the gate in reverse without doing any damage at all so we knew we could get back out. After driving for a short distance we realised that we had indeed gone the wrong way. We should have gone left! In the end we got to the river and the fishing began.

Have a look at my facebook page to see the results of my happy clients! Plenty spaces still available for the season.. ronan@sexyloops.com for bookings and information.

https://www.facebook.com/ronans.flyfishing

Tight Lines..

Ronan..

Onwards and Upwards… (and Iza’s curved cast!)

November 14th, 2015 No comments

I’m adjusting well in to my new lifestyle. Not working as a woodworker for 44 hours a week means I have time to think, time to consider my new job as a fly-fishing guide and do whatever it takes to make it work. My guiding season has been slow to start as I expected, but I have a busy period coming up which I’m really looking forward to. My website is not off the ground yet but its happening. I’m at the beginning of something great and I’m enjoying it. I’m excited about where it will lead. Exploring new water is now more important than ever before and I’m lapping it up.

I’ve been enjoying quite a range of fly-fishing lately. I’ve targeted a few big fish, mostly average sized fish, some salt-fly and quite a bit of exploration. Tomorrow I’ll be checking out a river that I have fished before but not for a long time. I’m looking forward to it. More on that on my facebook page tomorrow evening. (https://www.facebook.com/ronans.flyfishing)

One thing I’d like to share from a recent trip to the coast is the story of a challenging brown trout Iza caught. We were walking along a high bank together and I spotted a big fish down below happily feeding in a deepish riffle. The wind was blowing hard up river. The only place to take the shot from was on top of the high bank about 10 foot above the river. Because of our elevation we had to stay well behind the fish so as not to spook it. The cast was a difficult one. Quite long and from a hight, so leaving it very open to being whipped away by the wind. I suggested that she compensate for the wind and cast well left of and to the back the fish and let the wind carry it up. She said that I should take the shot but I convinced her to take it. She did, the first cast fell short but the second one was a pleasure to watch. The cast went left, the wind caught it and carried it up in a curve to the fish. The dry and nymph landed about a meter in front and the trout started to rise to the dry immediately; sailed up and confidently ate it. The strike was bang on and battle was not an easy one. Between scrambling down the high bank to the river, and being connected to an extremely strong fish she did well to land it. A fish like that makes any day a really great one.

I’m at a transition of sorts with my blog. For the last 5 years my blog has been about my own experiences, trips with my friends, my observations in and around the sport of fly fishing. To a certain extent I want to keep it like that but I also want to share my guiding experiences. I guess for the moment I’ll use what ever content and photo’s I feel like and in time a healthy balance of my guiding and my fishing will evolve.

If you’re planning a trip to NZ and need a guide why not get in touch! You’ll be in good hands.. ronan@sexyloops.com

Tight lines everyone.

Ronan..

PS.. If you like this, please subscribe!

 

 

Opening Weekend…

October 14th, 2014 No comments

Another season is well under way. For opening weekend I decided to try some newish water. I had fished it once before about 11 or 12 years ago but only a pool or two and my approach was not great. My memories were of a stream being so willow lined that casting was impossible but thankfully it wasn’t all that bad. It was tough, but far from impossible. I put in a couple of very big days on it to kick off the river season. I covered about 40kms on foot over the 2 days. By the time I got to the truck at the end of day 2 my legs had nearly ceased up. They were burning. I don’t believe they’ve ever burned that much. Over the winter months on the lakes, my legs didn’t get the training the rivers give them and I felt it. It was well and truly worth the pain and effort though; I had some great, challenging fishing and some magnificent fish. That’s why I’m here.

Ronan…

At lunch time on day 1, I thought of Oliver Kite and his “generous libation” as I opened my beer. I gave a libation too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptV1OORfvlI

The Secret Dam.

November 11th, 2012 1 comment

Dad and I used to joke about how trout in NZ would live in a puddle. The truth is that this is only a slight exaggeration. Farm irrigation dams, duck ponds, oxbow lakes, ditches, gold diggings, and every other imaginable body of water can and do support thriving trout populations in NZ. What’s in the water over here that makes this possible? Fish & Game introduce fish to some of these small waters but trout often find their own way in either through times of flood or little rivulets and streams. Either way, once they’re in they live there for years and have no problem surviving the winter months. In Ireland stocked lakes have to restocked at least once a year because so few fish survive the winter in their new, unfamiliar home.

Kevin was working on a farm last year which had 2 small dams on the property. The location was kept secret but finally he brought me to fish them this weekend. I’m forbidden from bringing anyone else there and I can only fish there with Kevin. This is fine by me! One could walk around each of the dams in 5 minutes. There is a small water race connecting the dams to a nearby creek and the ever opportunist trout have made their way into these waters. Over Kevins 2 weeks working there he picked up over 30 trout on lunch breaks and evenings with only 4 under 7lbs. This is an exceptional average even for NZ.

We had beautiful blue sky days during the working week but Saturday brought heavy cloud cover making spotting very tough. Thankfully the morning on the dam was dead calm and we managed to spot a few even in the low light. We did well with our chances. As the wind picked up we went to the creek which feeds the dams. We hooked a fish each. A 6lber for me and one about 8lbs for Kevin which he lost around a snag after taking my advise on where to beach the fish. We know where he lives!

Tight lines all.. Ronan..