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Posts Tagged ‘Otago’

An Insight Into 8 Days Guiding.

May 5th, 2021 No comments

As soon as the trans-Tasman travel restrictions were lifted I had some of my regulars booking trips. I didn’t think it was going to happen but finally, it did. It felt great to be busy again and things are looking good for May too. I had 8 consecutive guide days to finish off the regular season and managed a day myself on the 30th to polish it off. It wasn’t always easy and hatches were average to poor apart from one day where it really fired. Generally, April is the best month for mayfly hatches down here, so when it doesn’t happen it’s a little disappointing. Some days when the hatch was happening, we were almost running up river to find rising trout before it switched off again. Because it can switch off so suddenly! On one of the days, fly was pouring off for a while in the late afternoon. We got a couple during the hatch, then it stopped. Then 30 minutes later fly was pouring off again but the fish didn’t respond. 2 variables, fish and fly – and they both need to be “on” for it to work! All up, the guiding days went very well. I really enjoyed the time with my regular clients who are also friends at this stage and great to meet Vipin and Dave for the first time. About that day, Vipin was having a run of bad luck. Hooking fish but loosing them, getting the eat but not the hook-up and loosing a very big fish at the net. He landed a small one just big enough to count. At the end of the day I decided to look in one more pool to see if he could have another chance at a decent fish. There he was – under a tree. Vipin is a novice caster and this was a very tough shot for any angler. I coached and encouraged him and tried not to get frustrated. Then he made the side-cast land close to the target, the fish turned and swam downstream to see what made the disturbance and ate the fly. We got the fish and that absolutely made the day.

One thing I started looking at recently is the step counter on my phone. According to it, I walked 103kms in 8 guide days. The biggest day was nearly 19kms and the smallest was over 8. An average of 13kms per day. That all sounds about right to me. Walking is an integral part of fishing in NZ. Its not all on the river of course. Many of the 103 kilometres were walking to a river or river beat where vehicle access is not permitted, or climbing in and out of gorges. Ultimately, the harder you can go the more fish you’ll catch – or, at the very least you’ll see some great country!

The story of the 8 guide days is told in the photos below. I included the fish count so you can get a clear picture of just how varied that can be. Out of the 8 days, 2 were very hard where we could easily have blanked but managed 1 and 3 respectively. All the other days were good to very good. It goes without saying that angler ability has a huge role to play. The great thing about taking Marcus out, for example, is that I don’t have to plan much around wind because he can cast into it with relative ease. So where am I going with this? I’m not sure really, but casting skill and fitness are clearly of key importance to a successful trip here. One thing I think I need to advise my clients on at the time of booking is to get out and practice casting as much as possible. Also to get out walking a bit just to raise the fitness a little if needs be. It needs to be said though, you don’t need to be a marathon runner to have a great time fishing in NZ. There are plenty great options to suit anglers not keen on, or not able for big walks.

Still spaces available in May and it can be a super month! 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..

Boating, Fishing & Guiding..

January 2nd, 2021 No comments

I’ve had the boat out a couple of times now with the family. She’s lovely! Not built for speed but she gets along just fine. I played with the trim on the engine trying to get the bow down with the throttle opened up. It seems weight up the front might be the only option to get the bow down to plane properly. I’m not convinced that more power would get much more speed but I could be wrong. Even with the 15HP Evinrude I found myself throttling down for optimum performance. I remember learning about “hull speed” years ago – that a yacht cant go past a certain speed based on its hull shape and weight. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can knock a bit more speed out of it with somebody up the front. Maybe with correct weight distribution more power would equal more speed. Time will tell! Cant wait to get it out for an exploritory multi day lake trip. There’s enough room to sleep on board and heaps of space to carry gear. Now to find the time to do it! She also needs a nameā€¦


Plenty good fishing lately. I’ve put some highlights in the gallery below. My annual pilgrimage into one of my favourite and most physically demanding gorges was successful. Just like last year I found only one fish – turned out it was the same fish as last year. I’m starting to think he’s the only fish in the river and I’m not joking! I’ve watched fish numbers decline since I started fishing it 6 years ago. No idea why. Such a pristine backcountry river. Great to see my friend for the 3rd time. He’s still 9lbs, in great condition and still in the same part of the river. Funnily enough he was the first fish I ever caught on the river 6 years ago and currently he’s the last. Now he seems to have the whole place to himself. He must be old. 6 years ago he was 9lbs so he must be at least 15 assuming 1lb growth per year til he reached 9lbs. No science behind that, juat a guess. Hopefully when I go back next season I’ll find a new fish in one of the pools – and maybe I’ll see my old friend again too. (this is the blog he appeared in last season. I’ve spent the last hour trying to find the blog he first appeared in but I can’t find it!)


The weather has taken a turn for the worse. Bad timing as I’m supposed to be fishing down south with Robbie today and tomorrow. It’s been raining heavily for about 30 hours now. All rivers in flood. I might hit a lake myself tomorrow. I spent today sweeping water out of the workshop while trying to make some furniture. Guttering and drainage around the house need attention. I’ve added it to the infinite list of jobs!


Feel free to get in touch about a guided fly fishing trip. Plenty spaces in my calendar this season! Check out my website or email me directly ronan@sexyloops.com.

Tight Lines & Happy New Year! Ronan..

Mad Weather and Big Trout!

December 28th, 2019 No comments

I compiled this guiding gallery a couple of weeks ago now. Loads has happened since and it’s pushing the contents of this gallery to the side, which of course it shouldn’t because there were some excellent days on the water which I have accounted for here, but I really want to clear the decks now for more recent fishing, which has been superb!

One trip worth a mention was with Andrew. He had 2 days to fish, day one was off the charts landing 6 trout with the biggest hitting the scale at just over 9lbs. That fish took some work. We fished to him for about an hour before I put on one of my fathers unweighted size 14 hares ear nymphs. Andrews first cast with that fly and it was all on! Second biggest was 7lbs. They were all great trout.. Day 2 we blanked bringing us back down to earth. It’s funny how it goes!

It was great to see Brendan and Dave again. They were over for 5 days, Day one was simply magnificent with 11 fish to 7lbs, Day 2 and 3 were also good days but then I got struck down with severe stomach cramps. I gave the lads my truck and some info for their last 2 days. They landed another 9 trout. It took me 5 days in total to come right which included 3 nights in hospital. They were my first sick days in 5 years guiding.

I also took out Micah Adams and his friend Dave. Micah has been involved in fly fishing TV in Australia. We had a very enjoyable day on the water even though it was a pretty hard day. Micah got a 3lber on a dry and Dave landed a super 6lber.

The weather has been nuts. Rain, wind, hail, flooded rivers etc.. I like it when the conditions go to feck. It makes me think outside the box, take gambles, use what I’ve learned over the last 18 years in NZ. I’ll put a trip together for my clients regardless of what mother nature throws at us. I will use every avenue available to me to make it happen. Crazy weather seems to be pretty normal now so if a fella can’t adapt he’s in trouble!

The next blog will be about one of my own greatest moments in fly fishing with a superb old 9lber and The Mighty Chuan landing an 11lber.. Not mouse eating monsters, just bonafide brutes!

I’ll let the photos tell the other stories. Still some availability for this season if you’re thinking about coming over. Visit my website of contact me on ronan@sexyloops.com

Tight lines & screaming reels for the new year! Ronan..