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Posts Tagged ‘Manic Tackle Project’

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.

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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A Fjordland Adventure…

April 1st, 2022 No comments

As we flew deep into Fjordland last January I wondered what might make this adventure an adventure. Something always happens when you put yourself in the hands of nature. Could be good, could be bad, maybe dangerous maybe not but something always adds to the story…

We landed about 3kms up a river which flows directly into a Flord. It looked as if we were above the tidal zone so we thought it should be a good base of opperations. Nick brought his raft so from here we could access the fjord downstream or the main river upstream. The objective for the 3 days was to learn and explore as much of the system as possible by foot and raft from the ocean to the headwaters. When the heli departed we were alone in the wilderness. I joked that I hoped we haden’t forgotten anything.

Day 1.

After considering the weather forecast we decided that the best option for day 1 was the main river. The sea breeze in the forecast might make the fjord difficult for the oarsman. Upstream was a very large, long pool; barely flowing. We decided to assemble the raft to get through that first pool to access the flowing river above it. It made sence to have that job done anyway. As we started to assemble the raft I noticed Nick looking a little bothered – and nothing bothers Nick! “What’s up”, I asked? “Forgot the bolts’ he said.. Feck. Okay, so this is a hurdle. We have a raft but we can’t assemble the frame. Not going to let this beat us, we gathered what we could to put the raft together. Tent string, 80lb nylon, duct tape and zip-ties. What couldn’t be assembled with that? Well not this raft! Before long we were all go. MacGyver would have been proud. After a couple of teething problems we advanced up river. As we rowed up Nick questioned the damp green slime on the logs. Is this tidal? We agreed that it could be but wern’t totally sure. When we got to the end of the long pool we tied up the raft with 80lb test and continued upriver on foot.

The river was small, a few cumecs I guess. Clear and beautiful flowing through pristine beech forest. A mix of bouldery pools and gravelly runs. Ideal trout water. We quickly moved upstream without trout to slow us down. We blind fished now and again when a piece of water screamed fish – but they weren’t there. We fished to about a kilometre short of where the river becomes unfishable. At that point we decided not to push on since they simply weren’t there. Apart from a couple of 2lbers we saw nothing. After a 2 hour hike back down the river we got to the raft. It was strewn up on top of some logs with the 80lb test tangled in a root system. I guess it was tidal. I rowed back down the long pool. About 20m from camp, Nick hooked into a super fish from the raft. A great surprise. A 6.5lb stunning seatrout and a perfect end to the fishing day. We got back to camp and cracked open a cold beer from Nicks Yeti and got the fire going. I then set to work cooking steak, spuds and beans. Good food, company, fire and few beers in the wilderenss is hard to beat…

Day 2.

The best weather day. Since there were no fish in the river then they must be in the tidal zone. Nicks big seatrout from tidal water the evening before certainly made us feel very excited about 3kms of tidal river water before getting to the fjord. We set off at about 7am. Nick on oars and me casting. Teamwork. Nick keeping the boat on the best bank, just far enough out for me to efficiently and effectively cover the water with my streamer. After a slow start I picked up a fish from a stream mouth. Then the fishing really amped up. We’d catch about 2 a piece and then swap positions – oars for the rod. The fish generally weren’t big but the action was pretty constant. We were fishing this tidal zone at low tide. There was great excitement as the tight river section opened out into an awesome fjord. Just to see it was enough. But what will we find here? First up was a very fishy shorline. We pulled up the raft and fished it from the shore – and it was good! We landed quite a few here before heading for the drop-off where thousands or years of deposition from the river meets the ocean. Now and agian the tent string keeping the oarlocks from falling down would break. We got pretty good at fixing this on the fly. a couple of minutes and we were off again. The flats on the way from the river to the drop-off looked fishy we saw very little. There were occasional bust-ups out in the black ocean water, sometimes close to the drop-off. This was clearly an opportunity. Before we persued that we tried for a blue cod for dinner. We were depending on catching fish for dinner! Nick and I lost one each but didn’t get one. As luck would have it, A cray boat in the bay saw us and came in for chat. A beautiful boat called the Amazon. Certainly the nicest fishing boat I’ve seen! The crew were a very sound bunch of fellas and we chatted for quite a while. When they offered us a few cray tails we happily said yes please! Dinner was sorted. Before they went on their way they towed us way out into the fjord so that we could drift back in with the wind and catch some cod. The idea was good but it was unsuccessful. We then turned our attention to the drop-off and the bust-ups. When a shot finally presented I picked up my 7 weight trout rod. I hooked a kahawai (probably – but who knows) which took off out and down. When I was near the end of my backing he broke me. My mistake. Wrong rod. More to the point – wrong reel. The birds were following the fish so we followed the birds. This was not easy on oars with considerable wind. Finally another opportunity. This time I picked up Nick’s 10 wt Scott Meridian with a large Hatch reel on it. This time I was correctly armed and landed a nice kahawai after a super strong fight. Nick and I hooked a couple of others too but just the one landed. It was high summer so the days were long. That was a good thing because we were about 6kms from camp and it was getting late. We wanted to fit in the fishy bank again too. By now the tide would be low again. We got another couple there before the row up the tidal zone of the river channel. The tide was going out again which slowed the progress on oars but still no major problem. The fishing was quiet while I rowed. Nick took the last kilometre on oars while I fished again. Then, right at camp (just like yesterday) I hooked into a strong fish. I caught a glimpse and said it wasn’t a trout or a kahawai. To my delight a jack mackerel came to the net. This is an ocean fish 3kms up a river in fresh water! Tidal, yes – but fresh water. What a day. It was 9.30pm by the time we made it back to camp. I got a big fire going. Nick was on cooking duty. Spuds, beans and crayfish. Probably the best crayfish I’ve eaten thanks to Nick the chef and the fishermen from the Amazon. After Nick went to his tent I stayed up for a while to wind down and just relax by the fire. I needed it after a non-stop brilliant day.

Day 3.

The main river was not an option so it had to be the tidal zone again. With the tide slightly different we had a chance to see it in another light. This was indeed interesting. With higher water in the tidal zone the fishing was very poor. Nick got one or 2 and I got my best trout of the trip. A stunning, fat seatrout. A great result but nowhere near the numbers of trout on the previous day. Down at the fishy bank, we arrived on low tide and it was good again. We caught a few. The advancing tide filled the edges quickly and this knocked out the fishing. We thought it might improve it but it didn’t. At least not on this day! We then fished the flats concentrating on the gutters or anything fishy. It was quiet but nick did get a follow from a very large trout. Possibly over 10lbs – that sort of big. Time flew by and we had a heli to catch. We checked out some shallows filling up with the rising tide. These were full of whitebait. I’m sure trout would come into these areas at times but not today. The row back up river was easy with the flowing tide. We got back to camp at high tide. Funny how our timing worked out – this was the first time we saw camp at high tide in 3 days. Luckily there was enough gravel for the heli to land. We took the raft apart and laughed about how the duct tape, zip-ties, 80lb nylon and tent string held it together for 3 days of hardship. With everything packed up there was time to sit down and have a beer and chat about 3 amazing days exploring this system. We discussed what we had learned and agreed that it left us with more questions than answers. We’ll just have to go back!

Nick Reygaert

Most of you will have seen some of Nicks fly fishing productions from The Source to Pure Fly NZ and so much in between. You might know him as a cameraman more than an angler. Well I can tell you something – he’s an angler first and foremost, and one of the toughest I’ve had the pleasure of fishing with. Dawn til dusk is no problem for him. Fly fishing is his life whether he’s behind a camera or not.

Tight lines, Ronan.

Ps, for guiding bookings visit my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com. For a look at my flies available from Fulling Mill, including the streamers I used on this trip, click here. FYI, just enough time to grab some kiwi duns and size 16 clarets for the end of april – best hatch fishing of the year!

New Flies, Big Browns & Lots of Fishing!

February 12th, 2022 No comments

It’s been a very full on start to the year. Some guiding which has been great but more importantly I’ve had a lot of time to fish myself – I’m not quite sure how that happened but I’m not complaining! There’s been lots of highlights. One of them, the biggest highlight for sure was a trip to Fjordland with Nick Reygaert. The trouble is, too much other stuff has happened since to do that trip justice in a shared blog. It deserves it’s own report and it will come!! I’m just not sure when yet.

Another highlight I’d like to mention was on a day I went in search of a big fish or 2 on a solo mission. It was a day when I needed to walk a lot of river to find fish. Over the day I walked about 12 kilometres of river and only saw only 5 fish. 3 of those I landed. Number one and two took my Kiwi Dun without much difficulty but the 3rd was a different story. This turned into an hour long cat and mouse tactical battle on the last pool of the day. It started as I approached a long, slow pool and saw some nervous water half way up. Then a rise in the same area. “Brilliant” I thought, “theres a fish in the pool”. I advanced carefully up the pool looking as intently as possible – then I spooked a small fish of about 3lbs. That was not what I was expecting. Surely that was not the fish I saw first? I didn’t think it was a small fish. On the reasonable chance there’s still a big fish cruising the pool, I’ll continue to proceed with caution – that was my thinking. Sure enough, I saw another rise and it looked big. “Game on” I thought. I moved slowly to intercept the rise but could not see the fish. Then he rose under the cut bank at my feet. Knee length grass obscured me from the fishes vision and I could just make out his tail as it pushed him gently upstream and out of sight. The light was not great. This was the point when I decided to take a more careful approach than I might usually take. I decided not to persue the fish by way of following him up the pool because I thought I could easily spook him. Instead I decided to reset altogether. I went right back to the start of the pool and started my approach again. I ended up doing this numerous times. Somtimes I got a half chance, sometimes a brief visual, sometimes nothing. On one occasion I got a great visual and enough time to make a cast. 3 actually. I covered him each time with the dun and he totally ignored it each time. The fish was cruising like a trout looking for a cicadas but there were none on the water – at least none that I could see. I put one on anyway and once again reset. Back to the start. Another careful, slow and stealthy approach. Then, right up at the head of the pool I saw him rise. “Now” I thought.. I ran lightfooted half way to the rise then slowed right down. My thinking was that if he was cruising towards me after that rise he should be close now. From a crouched position I was scoping all round, now staying still. Then I saw him – cruising at 45 degrees away from my bank but in my general direction. I laid out my cast and dropped the cicada about 2 metres in front of him with an intentional plop. He immediatly set his course for it and cruised confidently all the way to it and….. chomp. The lift into such big weight is like a drug and I’m certainly addicted. What a high.

I thought he would make the magic 10lbs. He looked it during the fight but my weigh net said 9.5lbs. Of course it doesn’t matter but there is a certain fixation people have (me included!) about those ellusive double figure fish which is why I like to say the weight. That was the end of a really amazing day in the backcountry. I had the whole upper river to myself and I walked pretty much all of it.

In other news, I’m delighted to have another 4 fly patterns in the 2022 Fulling Mill catalog. I could not be happier with how well the team at Fulling Mill replicated these flies. 3 of them are streamers and one is a dry. One of the streamers is the tried and trusted Bruiser. Immortalised in the Lake Pukaki episode of Pure Fly NZ. This fly caught all the fish for both Jeff and myself on day 2 – before it had a name! The 2nd one is the Killer Smelt. A newer pattern designed to immitate cockabullies and smelt. I’ve had great success on this fly. It works well in clear water when darker streamers will get follows but not takes. This is also great in the salt. And last but not least is the Green Machine. Lighter in colour than the Bruiser and darker than the smelt, this fly completes the little family of streamers. In my humble opinion, what sets these flies apart is their simplicity. Just 2 main componants of possum and marabou which seemlessly gel together in the water. Their profile is very lifelike with natural, fluid movement. Another advantage of these flies is that they don’t wrap around. They’re tied on the Fulling Mill Competition Heavyweight hook which is incredibly strong. Just as good as the Kamasan B175 which I always used in the past, now I just use the FM version. The dry fly is actually one of my fathers creations which he’d been tying for NZ for about 10 years, so it’s very much tried and trusted. It’s a favourite of many of my clients as well as one of my own. The only thing I added to this fly was the sighter post to make it more visable. In a 14 its a great mayfly immitation and the 12 is superb for larger mayflies or as a general dry. I’m excited to see how these flies do around the world! I know dad has had a lot of success on his dry on Lough Corrib in the West of Ireland during olive and sedge hatches. A good friend is using them in Tasmania right now. There’s a batch of 60 streamers headed to Malaysia to help Paul fill up 6 boxes of flies for the guides involved in the Sungai Tiang project. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in action over there! I know my good friend John O Malley is going to give them a swim on Corrib for early season brownies. I’m confident they’ll work well. All my Fulling Mill patterns are available here.

Feel free to get in touch about guided fly fishing on the lower South Island for the remainder of the season if you’re within NZ. For those of you abroad, it looks like visitors will be allowed in this October – although a dates has not yet been set. Feel free to get in touch to arrange a booking starting in November to be on the safe side. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website

Tight lines! Ronan..

Here’s to 2022!

January 4th, 2022 No comments

It feels like the season has only started and it’s January already. This is why I try to get the most out of winter fishing – once the regular season opens, it’s over in no time, it accelerates. I guess thats why we have to make the best of everything. Life is short and we don’t know whats coming. On that note, I’m certainly trying to make the best of these challenging times. Yes, my business is in ruins and I worry about and miss my family in Ireland but all other aspects of life are better. Family time, my own fishing time, time in the workshop and restoring our old house and garden. In a normal guiding season I don’t see the inside of my workshop and maintaining the house is limited to mowing the lawns now and again. I know I’ll miss this when things go back to normal. In fact, it’s made me rethink what’s actually important so much so that I’m considering reducing my number of guide days per year to keep more of this work / life balance that I’m enjoying so much. I think when all this is over many people will realise the good points of this strange time – and there are many, at least there are here in NZ. I want to enjoy the good bits right now and forget about the negative as much as I can. I’m not going to look back and think I missed out or could have done things differently. I’m thankful to be in NZ where our freedom has not been affected like peoples in other parts of the world.

I’ve been on the water 3 out of the first 4 days of this year. Good results from various conditions. I have a very exciting exploratory backcountry mission coming up so this year is kicking off in style. More on all that in my next blog.

I’m attempting to improve my photography a little. David Lambroughton has been giving me a few valuable pointers. I’ve taken my wifes 10 year old Lumix GF2 out of the closet and got a polarising filter for it. I love the results. Polarising was always something I wanted from my picture taking but waterproof cameras are limited in this regard. Putting my sunnies in front of the lens wears thin! Don’t worry, you wont see “Photography” after my name or watermarks on any images! The photo’s below tell the story of a great finale to 2021.

I have 4 new patterns coming out this year with Fulling Mill. 3 streamers and a dry. I’m excited about that. More on those soon. My nymphs are currently available here.

Feel free to get in touch about guided fly fishing whether your in NZ or abroad. ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines and I sincerely wish you all a great 2022. Ronan..

A New Tactic For Lakes..

August 20th, 2021 No comments

From about mid July, trout start repopulating the lakes in large numbers. Spawning for most browns and many rainbows has finished. This is a great time to fish the lakes. The trout are keen to pile on condition, so the fishing can be superb. You’ll pick up some skinny fish but it’s quite amazing just how good the condition is on the vast majority of these winter fish. I’ve been out quite a bit making the most of it. When conditions permit, I’ve had some great sight fishing along the edges. When the wind has been up, my possum & marabou buggers have been doing really well. I’ve been fishing another method too. Something new for me.

This method is simple. I have fished it before but never quite like my current approach to it. It’s a dry / dropper rig fished blind – okay, so nothing new there – but for me there is. Normally when the wind gets up and I can’t sight the edges I turn to a bugger or small streamer. I love this method so it was hard for me to change. I always thought that nymphs fished blind under a dry in the wind would work. In fact, I knew it would work, but would it be better than buggers or streamers? Probably not – but maybe. Recently – finally – I put it to the test, both shore based and drifting. Like any blind fishing, it’s not just chuck and chance. I’m always looking for structure, contrast, weed beds, sand patches etc. The trick is to cover as much likely water as possible, as efficiently as possible. so, while drifting for example, I fish a relatively short line. Long enough so that fish near the fly won’t see the boat. Keeping it short gives me the great advantage of being able to pick it up and lay it down with just one false cast. Speed can be key here. 3 or 4 false casts and you might drift past a good weed patch, or spook fish by carrying too much line for too long. I don’t leave the fly sitting for long. About 10 to 20 seconds, then pick it up an place it somewhere else. I’m always aware of the speed of the drift versus the water I want to cover. A drogue is on the cards. It’s a very involved way to fish. It requires focus because you must have your fly in likely water all the time to stack the odds in your favour. Thats what blind fishing is come to think of it. I’ve mainly been fishing 2 to 4 feet of water with this method. At this depth I know I can get my fly to “likely trout cruising depth” quickly. I’ve been using my size 14 dark nymphs with a 2mm bead to suit this depth, but there’s loads of scope to take it further. Bigger, more buoyant dries holding heavier mymphs on longer droppers for deeper water. maybe more than one nymph? This method really suits boat fishing because you can find large expances of ideal water and work it. Thats not generally as easy from the bank but it’s a good tactic on the shore too. The advantage of the dry fly indicator over direct nymphing is the static or sinking presentation and the indication to strike. Typical to most methods, I’ve had days where everything sticks and days where I lost a lot of fish.

To weigh it up against bugger fishing – you’ll cover more fish with buggers but they won’t all eat. You’ll cover fewer fish with this dry / dropper method but more will eat (in my opinion!) I think the only way to test it is to fish against Jeff Forsee on buggers while I use the dry dropper. That said it, the dry / dropper method suits both anglers fishing it because bugger fishing is quite dispuptive even to the water outside the anglers focus. There would have to be some rules to give both methods equal footing. I’m sure Jeff will be keen! (We would have been out there doing it yesterday only for this feckin lockdown – which I fully agree with!)

Guiding through winter has been quiet which is pretty normal. However, my now regular client, Bill was down a few times. We had good fishing, mixing it up with sight and blind fishing on a number of lakes and working on casting. While up in Mackenzie country we had an encounter with an absolute monster. Sighted on a lake edge. I’d say 12lbs plus. I don’t think canal fish can get in to this lake, so that was a genuine monster. He was hovering with his dorsal just poking out. One good cast from Bill and the trout violently spooked, shifting a lot of water. I’m itching to get back! That was certainly a fish of a lifetime and I want to catch it.

In other news, I’ve been using my green boat a bit lately. She still has no name! I totally misjudged it as a boat. I thought it was too heavy for fishing shallows and only good for cruising with the family. To my delight, It’s great to fish from and drifts like a dream. Ideal for one but fine for two too. Wesley was out with me recently and he found it really easy and comfortable to fish from the hatch opening. It works like a lean bar whichever way we drift, so I don’t need to mount a casting deck on the bow – though I might anyway! It’s a very versatile boat. Easy to tow and launch, very economical with a 15hp 4 stroke Evinrude – clips along nicely with that, drifts well and easy to cast from with nothing for flyline to wrap around (well, almost nothing). The other big advantage is the cabin. It will keep any amount of gear dry and out of the weather and there room for me to sleep in it. I’m really looking forward to the future with this boat. Some of you may remember Daltona. She’s still in the workshop and the renovation is moving forward very slowly. I will get there!

I wrote a piece for Fulling Mill lately about my top 10 trout for the 20 – 21 season. Here is a link to it. Some great trout in there and a brief recap on each one.

If you’d like to get in touch about guided fishing this season or next please do. Strange times but it costs nothing to have a chat! Email me at ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight Lines, Ronan..

20 Year Old Trout!

April 8th, 2021 No comments

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

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

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

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

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

Tight lines, Ronan..

High-Country Dams..

February 13th, 2021 No comments

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

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

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

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

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

BOB’S BIRTHDAY

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

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

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

Tight lines, Ronan..

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..