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Posts Tagged ‘NZ lakes’

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..

Fishing with Grunde!

April 6th, 2020 No comments

I love it when I get a booking through Sexyloops. There’s a certain familiarity and understanding right from the start which relieves any pressure. I can simply plan the best trip I can. I basically just plan to do what I’d like to do which is not always the case. Dealing with Grunde was easy because we are like minded – like most Sexyloopers. He was happy to have me fish too so this was a trip I was really looking forward to. I had a rough plan in my head for the 4 days which included hiking into the backcountry but on the first day the weather turned for the worse. Extremely worse! A weather system which was destined to wreak havoc on the South Island landed on day 1. I know many guides cancelled bookings because of it. I’m lucky because I love the lakes which means I never have to cancel due to weather – I haven’t yet anyway. Apart from on the morning of day 1 there wasn’t a river to fish anywhere for the 4 days. We took on a very varied list of still waters from tiny to huge through almost every type of weather. We successfully blind fished with dries and nymphs on day 1, we also had a few shots to rising trout. Day 2 was all blind fishing with small streamers. We sight fished everything on day 3. Some magic fishing. Nine trout from 4 to 6.5lbs, mostly on dries. Day 4 sort of beat us. We got a few trout but the wind got really crazy. Every time I’d change location to avoid the wind it would change direction to ruin the new location! You’ll have days like that. All up it was a great 4 days of fly fishing – not for everyone I’m sure but we loved it! Looking forward to next time, Grunde! Thanks!

Feel free to get in touch with any enquiries for next season. Don’t worry about a deposit under the current circumstances – just let me know the dates you’d like. Hopefully the travel ban will be lifted by next season. Contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Good luck! Ronan..

Day 1. We fished the river in the morning til this happened..
And it got much much bigger!
Plan B was some some small still waters.. Casting dries around the edges was very good!
Another for me. Brilliantly coloured this time.
They’re all so different.
After a few missed opportunities this one to the net and Grund was off the mark.
Back he goes.. 4 for the day.
Day 2. With all rivers flooded it had to be another still water. This time to the high country.
We needed serious rain gear! I had 2 Simms jackets and this emergency poncho. The poncho was great!
The rain pissed down all day. This was the system that wreaked havoc all over the lower South Island.
We had really good fishing with small streamers.
Stunning fish are the norrm on these high country lakes.
Rain, mist and wind.. Cold too..
But good fishing!
Grunde in again..
Super fish!
Rain.
One more beautiful trout before heading home. Super day with 6 to the net to 5.5lbs.
Day 3. With rivers in flood this was a busy lake! 7 anglers on it. We got there early and staked our claim on a great 150m shore. A perfect blue sky day was very welcome after 2 of the wettest days I’ve guided.
9 for the morning mostly on dries.. including this double hook-up.
A very memorable moment.
Nice markings.. Plenty more opportunities in the afternoon but no more landed.
Day 4. Still on the lakes. We managed 3 or 4 but the wind got insane!
yep, insane!
Some Fulling Mill flies.
Sensibly packaged. Good flies.
Some of my own flies. My go to dry.
This with a yellow body was great for cicadas this year.
Lake edge cruiser fly.
My #16 nymph with a 2mm bead. This fly has accounted for 5 double figure trout from one river!
#12, 3mm bead. For depth or coloured water. The butt is backing line, possum body.

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..

 

Trout Flats!

January 24th, 2018 No comments

In my questionnaire I send to clients prior to their fishing trip with me I ask “Would you like to fish river, lake or whatever’s best on the day?”. Most say river full stop. Others say “river preferably but a lake if its going to be amazing” I can never guarantee “amazing” so river it is!!. Some say “whatever’s best on the day” but nobody says “lake please!” It’s pretty clear that the average clients understanding of lake fishing is does not really apply to NZ. I think they believe it to be standing in one spot and blind fishing all day. They could not be more wrong! One could fish that way but they wouldn’t do very well generally speaking.

For me, it’s usually sight fishing. Often along a lake edge which we walk and stalk. When an opportunity presents the angler must quickly and accurately intercept the fish with his or her fly. It’s different to a river because we rarely find fish on station waiting for food. Therefor every opportunity is time critical. We must follow the fish or back off if he’s coming towards us, sometimes diving for cover so he doesn’t see us. We don’t want to follow for too long because he may well turn to the deep or cross paths with another fish, another opportunity. Certain lakes offer lots of different shoreline types adding to the appeal.

Sometimes we find fish working a beat. This gives us a chance to plan our attack! Trout will often cruise a set route over and over again. If we see a trout on a flat we may be able to view the whole beat. A good approach then is to cast to the near side of the beat when the trout is at the far side, then wait for the fish to come back and cruise to where our presentation is waiting. Usually a nymph suspended under a dry at cruising depth. The trap is set! This is very exciting and extremely productive and I love it! Interestingly, my clients and I regularly stumble upon this type of fishing in backwaters on many rivers. Not a single client didn’t enjoy it, and certainly nobody asked to be taken back the main river immediately (so you see, you do like lakes!! You just don’t know it yet!!)! Another good thing about the lakes is that they stay pretty cool in hot summers like this one. I have had a number of days recently when trout get a lot quieter in the afternoon as the water heats up on small to medium sized rivers.

Another form of lake fishing is the cream of it. Trout flats. These are wide expanses of ankle to waist deep water of pretty uniform bottom where trout cruise. The approach is walk and and watch! I like to get out to knee deep water where I can slowly walk along stalking pretty much the 360 degrees around me. Sometimes there are lots of trout on the flats, other times few but the quality of the fishing when it’s on must rival bone fishing (I’m guessing, I’ve never done it!). I recently had a 2 hour spell with a client on a trout flat where we had multiple shots coming at us at any one time. It was feckin bananas. The whole day was good but that spell was as good as it gets! Reel screaming, knuckle busting runs from big healthy brown trout. Trout flats are not always easy wading with soft sand and silt often making up the bottom. However, some are firm and easy to wade.

Blind fishing is not to be sniffed at either, though I do understand why this is not top of the list. Being brought up on Irish Loughs, blind fishing was the way to catch fish so I’m very at home doing it here. It’s great from a drifting boat but also great from the bank. On days where you have no sun to sight fish a flat, blind fishing a couple of light PT nymphs can be excellent. Deeper weeded flats are often best blind fished regardless of conditions. The takes are electrifying! Blind fishing requires endurance casting. To be good at at you need to be able to cast repetitively for 8 hours straight. Thats how we role in Ireland anyway!

Tight Lines everyone!

Ronan..

Anyone planning a trip to NZ, I still have some spaces in February, March and April – May too! ronan@sexyloops.com or see my website http://www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com

 

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