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The Fishing Gods.

April 13th, 2024 No comments

As fly fishermen we often refer to the fishing gods. Good luck or bad, the fishing gods are there. I think for many of us its mostly in jest but with a little belief in there too. Maybe even a lot of belief. After a great moment or a great day I frequently find myself thanking something that I can’t see, usually looking up while doing it. This – or these, are the fishing gods. There would seem to be more than one as we always refer to fishing gods, plural.

On a day with Marcus earlier in the summer the fishing gods played a major role. The plan was to go after a big trout on a river we both love. I had been having a shocking run of luck on it. Constant bad days for almost 2 seasons. Everything going wrong – perfect forecasts turned to shite, beaten to it due to a flat tire, getting jumped or just generally not getting it right. For years previous to to that run of bad luck I couldn’t put a foot wrong. The fishing gods nearly always seemed to be on my side. I had a feeling that they were about to side with me (and Marcus) again.

We set off in the morning with a great forecast. Quietly confident that we’d get it right. We gave ourselves 2 days to do it so it was a big advantage to know that if things went wrong we had another chance the next day. It all started when I got overtaken by a guide (we’ll call him Jim) on approach to the dirt track. He accelerated ahead as I got stuck behind a farm truck. I wasn’t happy about this. The farm truck stayed on the main road as I peeled off onto the dirt track and put the boot down. I realised to my delight that my opponent didn’t take the shortcut – so I did. I cut him off at the top and took my rightful place in front. I knew I’d see him at the first gate anyway. When we got to the gate Marcus hopped out to open it. I drove through as did the other guide. Then the fecker tried to sneak around me! I was out of the vehicle at this stage to have a chat. When he saw me he stopped. “Ronan, I didn’t know you in your new truck” he said! We had a good laugh and then chatted about how we’d share the river. We both wanted the first beat. I was just about to let him take his first choice (since we had 2 days) but he got in before I could speak to offer a coin toss. Why not I thought. He won the toss so got his first choice. I actually prefer the other beat anyway but logistically it made a little more sense to do the lower beat first but it really didn’t matter. So meeting Jim changed the order of our days to the 2nd beat on day 1 and the 1st beat on day 2 as opposed to the other way around.

We got to the second beat and tackled up. Everything felt good. It was peaceful with nobody else around and warming up nicely. There was no rush getting started. The sun is very important for spotting and it encourages the cicadas out of the ground so we let it rise a bit before starting. Not too far up there was a very good pool which I know well. We took our time on it fishing both banks and picked up a few blind fishing. Two 3lbers and an incredibly fat 6, all on my green cicada. A really great start. As the day progressed the cicadas started to get on the water. Nothing major, just little flurries of them now and again. Marcus had a couple of opportunities both resulting in an eat but no connection. Then, in a pool I don’t generally see a fish in, we spotted a brute. Marcus got into position. I knew it was a very big fish. I could see the depth, width and length clearly in the water. There was a flurry of cicadas coming down at that time and the trout was making the most of it. Trout often cruise the pools looking for cicadas making them a little harder to intercept. This fish was on station only moving forwards and backwards a little while swinging left and right to slurp down cicadas. This gave us a great chance. A dream shot at a really big fish. First cast was dead right. Fish came over and a refused. Second cast on target – another refusal. I quickly took off the green cicada and put on a smaller tussock cicada. Cast 3 was on target and the brute lunged over to eat it just like a natural. The strike was good and fish was on. I was confident from the first sight that he was a double. During the fight I remained confident. The moment he went in the net I called it. “10 maybe 10 and a half” I said. I lifted the scale and he went straight to 10 and a bit pounds. Just over the increment. 10 is the magic number for trout fishermen and Marcus now has a magnificent double to talk about. He’s been close many times and this was something he really wanted and worked hard for so it couldn’t be more deserved. Come what may for the rest of the day or the next day, we’d achieved what we came here to do.

On day 2 we fished the first beat. We saw very few and never had a decent shot all day. We met some Fish & Game officers up there who told us they’d just spoken with a couple of anglers who were dropped off somewhere on the 2nd beat in the morning. It’s a good thing our order of beats changed or those fellas would have been in front of us and we’d never have known without a vehicle to mark their presence. Fishing behind someone on this river would be a waste of time. So this is where the fishing gods came in. Jim overtaking us in the morning lead to us getting the order of our two days just right. It simply had to be in the order we had it in, and that order was down to luck – or fishing gods! Jim told me afterwards that he had no joy on the first beat either so it really was vital to fish the second beat on day 1. So, a big thank you to the fishing gods! Whether you believe in them or not..

This brings me to March so I’ll get onto that as soon as I have a chance. If you’d like to see the flies I use on a daily basis, including everything from this report please click this link. They’re all available from Patagonia Queenstown too. Right now for the April hatches my Kiwi Dun 14 with a 16 claret nymph trailer is deadly. Best fished on 5x tippet. I’ve been getting some good reports about my streamers doing the business on Lough Mask in Ireland and my hotspot and claret nymphs are working well for stalking trout in the UK. Great to hear the positive feedback. Next season is about half full so please get in quick if you’d like to book. Visit my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com

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..

Cicadas to sea-runners to speeding tickets….

February 7th, 2013 No comments

Last Saturday Mike Bonn and I took the Wakitipu Anglers Club boat out on Lake Wakitipu to target Cicada feeders. I have not fished for trout feeding on Cicada’s very often but one observation I made in the past stud true on the day. The trout were sipping down the big morsels like little mayflies. There were very few smashing rises, In fact,we only saw about 10 free risers all morning. If they were smashing them we’d have seen heaps! They were clearly zoned in on cicada’s because our big, shop bought cicada patterns were all they wanted. I have often heard about fish hitting cicada’s very hard but I have rarely seen it happen. The truth is that once a cicada lands on the water he’s not getting off it again. Trout zone in on this behaviour after eating a few and instinctively adapt their behaviour to match ( I hope I worded that correctly Bob Wyatt, feel free to comment!!) Cicada’s range widely in size and colour so maybe they only sip down the medium sized grass green ones!! Who the hell knows.. Regardless, Mike and I had a great few hours on the water. Afterwards I went to James and Caroline Wilkinson’s Wedding.  Thanks James and Caroline.. Great fun had by all! (apart from getting a speeding ticket while trying to keep up with Jeff on the way the the river the next day!)

Wednesday, Waitangi day. No work so Jeff Forsee and myself set out to catch a big searun brown. I’m tired now so I’ll keep this short! Basically, Jeff had to open about 15 gates before we got to where we wanted to go, then a 300m climb into a gorge, then about 5ks of very rough gorgy terrain to get a shot at a handful of fish. They were tough! We each had a 7lber. I lost 2 more one of which I reckon was 9 plus. Then the walk out. Down the river first then up a stream, then up and over a mountain, down a gorge, and back out the same gorge to find the truck a few k’s down the track. Fitness helps about as much as stubbornness! My knee gave up but still worked. Thankfully it’s almost fine today but my legs are sore! Jeff said his were too and Kanai is still asleep. Was it worth it?…  Fuck yes.

Ronan..

 

 

New Zealand – Ireland – Thailand – New Zealand……

December 14th, 2012 No comments

I’m at Christchurch airport right now and my bag is checked through to Dublin. Snakehead has just appeared on the agenda for Thailand in a few weeks so hopefully my next blog (probably in about a month but possibly sooner) will have 3 countries and multiple species in it which will make a welcome change from trout.. I’m happy to be heading home for what will surely be an epic trip.

Last weekend was tough. I broke in 2 fish which I shouldn’t have and one was possibly a double. I hooked 5 in total and only landed one. Day one brought tough sighting conditions but day 2 was perfect and I blanked! I fished lots of new water and I’m excited about getting back there for some really big days in the new year..

If I don’t get a report up before Christmas and New year I hope you all have a great one!

Fish hard..

Ronan..

Categories: Expedition Tags: , , , ,

Good Bye Tasmania, Hello NZ!

March 7th, 2012 No comments

When I left the Highlands of Tasmania over 2 years ago I knew it would only be a matter of time before my return. My recent 6 weeks in Tasmania was everything I had hoped for and more. The fishing was not as good as when Paul and I were up here but that’s fishing and it didn’t detract from the whole highland experience. Like I said before, Tassie is as much about the people and the way of life as it is about the fishing. When I arrived in the highlands I called in to see John (The Pom/Woodstock) but he wasn’t in, he was at Dons so I went there where I met Don, John and Bob (bush mechanic from “3 Wheels on my Wagon” in SLTV). I had intended to fish that day but that took a back seat to a few beers… lots of beers. My plan was to live in Sean’s Subaru but Don very kindly put me up instead. That’s the Highlands for you, very social and very hospitable. Thanks again Don!

Many of the people I got to know over my 2 visits to the Highlands came to Don’s place on my last day for a few beers and food. Noby cooked up a feed of mutton birds which I have to say were miles ahead of the NZ mutton birds I had a few years ago. Actually, they were one of the best things I’ve eaten, full of fish oil and flavour from the sea. The roast from Dons Dad’s pet cow didn’t last long, in fact Don and John missed out! Everyone ate and drank well and a few of us pushed through till dawn, well not quite…

Thanks to all the Highlanders for making the place so special. I wont tell anyone how good it is!

See you all again soon..

Stuntman Ronan..

PS. Congratulations to my great friend John O Malley on his engagement to his beautiful partner Bronwen Kearns! I really hope I can make it home for the big day… If I’m invited!! 🙂