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Posts Tagged ‘Manic Tackle Project’

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..