Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Mackenzie Country’

Off to Fjordland..

June 19th, 2024 No comments

There’s something very special about getting into some of New Zealand’s most wild and beautiful places. In late March myself and Chuan did just that. We had a couple of days. Day 1 was very sunny but with a brutal downstream wind which certainly cost us a few fish. The late season sun cast contrasting shadows across the river making sighting challenging in many places. Fish were touchy but we had 6 for the day. A good day apart from Chuans hat blowing off and disappearing down a rapid. Shortly after he got in a fight with a sandfly which gave him a fat lip! Day 2 was cloudy with a little less wind. The cloud was better for sighting than the sun. The diffuse light caused by the cloud and having a good backdrop to sight against was an ideal combination for sighting. That was a good lesson for this river in March. Fish were even more spooky on day 2. Sometimes we’d quietly arrive at a pool and sight a fish. As quickly as we’d see him he’d just melt away into the pool. It was one of those days where they seemed to have an extra sense. We only managed a couple. No regrets though. Places like this are as much about the location as the fishing. There were hunters and other anglers in the hut too. A mix of Kiwis, Singaporean, Scotsmen and Irish. Some craic! I might have had a few beers and a whisky too many. I felt sorry for the hunters wanting an early night before their hunt.. that just didn’t happen!

After our wilderness adventure Kim arrived and the 3 of us got stuck in to a variety of fishing. Rivers and lakes both in the mix. I’ve been guiding Chuan and Kim for about 8 years now and still try to show them something new on every trip. This was no exception and we had some good fishing on a river and a lake they saw for the first time. This is why exploring new water is so important to me. I want to keep it fresh and interesting for myself and my clients.

June now and my streamers are doing the business! For a look at all my flies check out this link. For bookings and info about next season please check out my website or contact me ronan@sexyloops.com

Tight lines and Free Palestine.. Ronan..

November – Thoughts & Highlights..

December 18th, 2023 No comments

Typical of this time of year, it’s hard to make time to write! There’s more photos than I generally add but I hope you can make the time to enjoy them. They tell the story of a busy month of fishing and guiding.

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot more lately is barbless hooks. It seems crazy that it’s taken me this long to really start moving away from barbed hooks. I was never too concerned about the barb. What I always told people was that I don’t have any trouble removing barbed hooks. This is true. The part that has always bothered me is breaking in a trout with a barbed hook left in his mouth, but it never bothered me enough to fish barbless. Now it does bother me enough. There’s a great relief breaking in a fish knowing the hook is barbless. There’ll be minimal stress on the fish since he’ll easily shake it free. I often heard that trout can dissolve a barbed hook quite quickly. I wonder if that is true? I should google it! The silly thing is I always knew that I’d loose feck all fish by going barbless. It only takes a second to crush the barb or better still, tie on barbless hooks to begin with. My range of flies with Fulling Mill are barbed so this is something I may look at changing in the future.

I had a solid month of guiding starting with Brendan and Dave. As usual for these two the rain came and blew out the rivers – it happens every time! We managed the fist day on a local river before they all blew out completely. Luckily, both of them love the lakes and we had some brilliant and varied still-water fishing with epoxy buzzers playing a very important role.

Next up was Tim and his brother Graeme. Great craic as always with the bros! Just about every fish was 5lbs. A very enjoyable few days.

Late in the month I had a new client. A man who knows my father quite well and fishes with him a lot back home. I also met him 25 years ago when I looked after the Inagh fishery for a season. His name is Jack Meredith. A very experienced angler who’s chased salmonids all over the world. I was delighted to show him around my area for a week. We mixed it up with local streams and rivers, backcountry fly-ins and highcountry dams. It was no surprise to me that the dams got under his skin. Anyone who fishes Irish loughs will have a head-start in understanding these special places, which are not for everyone. The fishing was very tough on the dams – but that’s not a bad thing. It just means you have to dig deep, fish to the conditions and persist – then enjoy the beautiful reward if you get one. Jack was not going to come back to the South Island after having a terrible experience a number of years ago. His guide didn’t know where he was going or what he was doing and spooked every fish in the river. I glad he changed his mind. I’m looking forward to next time.

A quick note about buzzer fishing (aka chironomid). This season and last season I’ve noticed a huge increase in buzzer numbers in many of the the lakes I fish and some rivers. On still-water days when fish have been hard, switching to a buzzer, usually epoxied, regularly made all the difference. I didn’t have a huge stock to begin with but my father can tie these in his sleep! One the phone one evening I asked him to send me a few which he did. Now I’m well armed with flies for these increasingly important tactics. Dad’s buzzers are particularly good too.

I’m very happy to say that my Fulling Mill patterns are now available in the new Patagonia shop in Queenstown. If you don’t live near Queenstown you can still order them online. They’re pretty much the only patterns I use. Check them out here.

Next season is just starting to fill up. Feel free to get in touch to make a booking or to chat about options. You can check out my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com.

That’s all for now. Hopefully Decembers report will have a more user-friendly amount of photos. 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..

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.

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..

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..