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Posts Tagged ‘Wakatipu Anglers Club’

Irish Lough Style in NZ?

May 15th, 2023 No comments

I recently did a podcast with Daire and Tom from Ireland on the Fly. I never met Daire but I know Tom quite well from fishing at home. He also spent a good chunk of a season here in NZ where we spent some time on the water together. I enjoyed the craic with lads during the interview and shared some of my thoughts and tactics about NZ fly fishing and told a few stories. One of the topics we chatted about was Irish Lough Style in New Zealand. I’m sure I’ve covered this before on my blog – there’s over 300 entries so I’m bound to repeat myself from time to time. However, I’d like to further explain the rapid evolution away from Irish Lough Style which I experienced here in NZ… This is how it went for me.

As soon as I saw the NZ lakes on my first visit in 2002 I wanted to try lough style on them. I assumed that not many people would have tried it. I assumed it would be deadly. Before I go on, I want to explain what lough style is to me. Basically, it’s a way to cover a lot of water quickly and efficiently – similar to streamer fishing in this regard. To me, it’s a team of 3 or 4 traditional wet flies (a dabbler on the bob, bibio in the middle and a Peter Ross on the point for example) on a 15 to 20 foot leader. It’s usually fished on a floating or intermediate line. It’ best fished in a good wind and wave so that the angler can cover a lot of water quickly (if drifting) with imperfections hidden by the rolling wave. When fishing in little or no wind when the angler needs to slow the retrieve, fish lighter tippet and smaller flies, even if they’re traditional patterns, to me, this is closer to nymphing than how I perceive lough style. This is not what I was talking about in the podcast, I was referring more to fishing in the wind and wave. This is lough style in my book although others may hold a different view.

I remember the first time fishing a team of traditional Irish wet-flies in Mackenzie Country on a windy day. Around 2003 I’d say. Lough style worked well as I fished a rocky shore down with the wind. I was delighted with myself. I realised quickly though that the middle fly really didn’t do much. Maybe catching one in ten fish. So I removed it. For the next while I had a pretty even catch rate on the bob and the point – which were now a bit farther apart with the absence of the middle fly. Then I changed the point fly from a traditional sparsely tied wet-fly to a bead head bugger of some description. Immediately I started catching more on the point fly. The bob was still effective but I questioned its necessity, thinking the point will cover the fish anyway. So, I removed the bob. Within a few days, Irish Lough Style in the wind evolved from a team of 3 flies to a single bugger! To this day, when fishing in the wind I fish a single bugger (or similar) in preference to team of 3 traditional wets.

Where the lines blur a little is in lighter conditions where buggers or streamers are much less useful – they generally work best in the wind or at least cloud cover. In these light conditions I’ll often fish a team of 2 small wet flies. Some might consider this lough style but I don’t, personally. I think it’s nymphing. No need for 3 (or 4) flies unless your buzzer fishing – but that’s hardly lough style, is it? There’s no doubting the efficacy of lough style in Ireland. Taking what I learned in NZ back to Ireland, it didn’t work like I had hoped. I went full circle and ended up back with a team of traditional wets. There’s a reason lough style evolved in Ireland..

Right now winter has landed over here. The weather is cold but there has also been a few sunny, warm days. Guiding has all but finished up for another season. I’m writing this with paint on my hands as I’m waiting for some doors to dry before they get their final coat. This is the time of year when I take on some projects to improve the house – and fish, of course.

In the photos below I’m caught up to early April. The fishing will continue through the winter so lots more to come! Enjoy the photos below. They tell the story of a great week with Bill and Jeff where we managed to stay one step ahead of the weather all week. We had a super trip with lots of trout from a lovely variety of water. Also in the pics is a trip to Mackenzie Country with a few friends from the Wakatipu Anglers Club.

If you’d like to check out my comprehensive range of flies for NZ you can do so here. Also If you’d like to get in touch about guided fly fishing over winter or next season you can check out my website or email me ronan@sexyloops.com.

Tight Lines, Ronan..

Help Protect the Manuherikia River (Also, a Winter Fishing Update!)

June 13th, 2021 No comments

The amount of water allowed to be taken for irrigation from the local river, the Manuherikia, is coming up for review. Currently, so much is taken off the river that in summer the river gets too low and warm for fish to thrive, especially in the lower reaches. The fish shut down completely as soon as the day warms up. I avoid the river when it’s like this so as not to further stress the trout, as do most anglers. With this, anglers loose much of their local river for fishing (and guiding in my case) for up to 2 months a season. Currently the river is permitted to get as low as 900 litres per second before abstraction is reduced to keep it at that level. This low flow also makes the lower river unsafe to swim in and visually pretty horrible as brown algae takes over. This should be quite a large river but it’s not allowed to be as the demand for irrigation increases with land use intensification. Some of the water take-outs are huge, taking what appear to me to be half the river at some points. Sadly, this is quite normal for many NZ rivers but we have a chance now to make the situation on the Manuherikia a little better. Please take a moment to fill out this survey – it only takes a couple of minutes. The link is at the bottom left of the page. Of course, the optimum flow outlined in the scenarios would be 3000l/s. You don’t have to live here to care about the river so please have your say. If you’d like to take a little more time and write a submission, please do so. You can email it to policy@orc.govt.nz . You have until June 18th. Thanks in advance to those who make the effort to take the survey or write a submission.

We’re right in the swing of winter fishing right now. As always its fickle but mostly pretty good. That’s the nature of chasing migrating trout; you may or may not find them. The most exciting prospect for me at this time of year is catching is a large, fresh run rainbow. I’ve been lucky in the past, usually catching one over 8lbs every winter, sometimes more. This winter (so far) and last winter combined, the best I managed to catch has been about 5lbs. I’m not sure whats changed but those big fish seem hard to find. I’m dying to get stuck in a big one again. I’m out tomorrow fishing myself so hopefully I’ll get one.

I’ve had a busy May guiding, relatevily speaking. All up very successful. Only one blank with 2 complete beginners to fly fishing. That was an interesting day though. I don’t think I’ve ever guided an ambidexterous person before but both Ian and Craig were. What are the odds? The first challenge for them was to decide which arm was best suited for the task. After about an hour I had to insist that they “pick and arm” or we were not going to advance much. Once they did they did great – Ian in particular (sorry Craig!), a real natural caster and angler. I hope they keep it up!

It was great to see my regular client and friend Brendan back over again from Australia. We mixed up the few days with local rivers and lakes and a couple of days deep in the backcountry – hoping for a big rainbow or brown. We caught heaps of average sized fish. We saw some very big fish but they elluded us. The best we landed was over 5. A nice fresh run fish. A magic couple of days though, covering about 20 kilometres of river. Frosty mornings with mostly sunny weather to follow and little wind. The sun sets quite early in the valleys at this time of year so warm gear was essential. The backcounty hut provided great shelter for the night. It was a very basic hut which gets little use but a good sweep out, tidy up and warm fire made us right at home. That and some good food and wine. Next time I’ll have to bring a roll mat because one of the two bunks is made with floor boards. Brendan didn’t find it very comfortable!

Lots more stuff too all documented in the photo’s below! Some very enjoyable days out with friends and great to use the new club boat. It’s a weapon!

Feel free to get in touch to book a winter fishing mission. Contact me on ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website.

Tight lines, Ronan..

The Manuherikia River!

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..

Aoife Creane Takes the Piss (Pot), 2018.

March 22nd, 2018 No comments

In 2015 the Wakatipu Anglers Club asked me to host an event for the club on my home water, Lake Dunstan. I was happy to do it but I wanted to host something a little different, so I came up with a competition for the perpetual Piscatorial Pot. I can’t claim credit for the idea as there is already one on Lough Corrib in Ireland. This year was the 4th year of the competition and its gathering momentum, even if the fishing is always pretty hard! As luck would have it My mother, father and sister were over from Ireland to meet Adaline (and see Iza and I!) so I registered my sister, Aoife and my dad, Joe in the club so that they could take part in the competition. A win for dad would put his name on a Piss Pot in each hemisphere so he was off to the lake with a solid battle plan. The anglers arrived and hit the water, some on the bank and some in various floating devises. I took Aoife out in the pontoon boat where she did her best to rid the lake of lagarosiphon. Chatting to a few anglers during the day it was clear people were struggling to land a trout! The 2017 winner, Wesley Seery was standing on top of a high cliff near O Malleys Bank looking down on the water. I called up to him to hear how was doing, “I lost 4” he said. Then Aoife shouted that she had one. My response was “just drag it in there and I’ll take the weed off” but then the weed jumped! By some miracle she hooked a trout on her first day with a spinning rod. She played it well and directed it safely into my net. “The winner” shouted Wesley.. “Hardly” I thought, “but it’s possible!” Shortly after the wind came up so we went ashore. The pontoon boat struggles in the wind! Aoife and I fished the shore at the 45th parallel for a while before heading back to the house a little early to help with the barbecue. The fishermen started appearing after 5 o clock. “Any joy?” I’d ask, “No” they’d say. More and more arrived but the answer remained the same, “No”. There were still a few good anglers who had not reported in but I could see Aoife’s excitement was getting hard to contain.. The last anglers arrived. No fish! Aoife’s excitement was justified. She had the best catch of the day with one rainbow trout of about 3lbs. So, on her first day fishing she managed to beat some top class anglers to take the Piss Pot, as its affectionately known! Congratulations Aoife! She’s also the first female club member to win any Wakatipu Anglers Club cup. Needless to say everyone was delighted for Aoife and her fantastic achievement. We all celebrated for her even though she was in bed at midnight.. the Irish contingent of the club with Brayden pushed through til 4am.. I just want to say one thing “Conor O Boyle” haha..

I’m way behind on my blog! I can’t possibly add all the photos I’ve set aside for blogging, but I have added a few pics from some guide days since my last blog. The fishing has been really excellent as the pictures below will tell. The Lakes & Still Waters option is getting more popular as it should!! I’ll try to get another blog out very soon to catch up.. I still need to add a few stories about fishing with dad. The story of a 10lb trout I guided a month ago too! Speaking of big fish, I have included a photo of my good friend Robbie Mcphee’s monster Kingfish from a recent trip to Golden Bay at the top of the South Island. The fish measured 110cm and was estimated at 36 – 38 lbs. Surly the biggest landed on fly to date from the fishery. An amazing result which left a few local anglers pretty gobsmacked and envious (I heard!!)!

More to come soon. It’s pretty full on right now with work and family! Aoife just left today but mom and dad are here for another week. Work tomorrow but then dad and I will fish 5 days. Can’t wait for that. The rest of the season is pretty packed but there’s a few spots in early April and most of May is still available. Feel free to drop me a line if you’d like some guided fishing! ronan@sexyloops.com¬†or check out my website http://www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com

All the best for now, Ronan..

The Bay of Pigs!

May 11th, 2017 No comments

Lake Benmore from the boat was the plan. We arrived late because I slept in. The lake was blowing a gale! We drove towards the boat ramp, not too happy about our impending soaking while driving the boat back through the heavy wave to get to the mouth of the Ahuriri. I turned the truck around thinking we could use a different (much closer) access to launch the boat, but a sign clearly stated that no power boats were allowed.. so we turned around again and went back towards the boat ramp.. then we changed our minds altogether in favour of some exploration… I had never fished our chosen lake from a boat and only skimmed the surface from the shore so this was new for both of us. We searched lots of likely water and did quite a bit of drifting with limited success before drifting into one very good weedy bay. We moved about 10 browns to streamers landing a couple. The exploration continued. We checked out all sorts of water; all with potential for different times of year. Then one bay got our attention. We figured there would be a chance of a big trout because fish from the canals could get in. Soon after starting we spotted a monster brown beside the boat. He calmly drifted away and out of sight. Multiple drifts produced nothing and we didn’t see any more. Jeff had a huge streamer on which I was expecting to be eaten at any moment but it wasn’t. I was using a clear intermediate and Jeff was on a floater, both with weighted streamers. I decided to change to the di7 rig. Almost immediately, I was into a solid fish.. I hoped it was a brute but the short head shakes gave his size away. A good fish though and I kept it for dinner. A few drifts later a solid thump from the deep. I had counted the line down so I knew I was well below the surface. Jeff saw the flank and knew it was a big rainbow. I was well armed with my 8wt tcx and 13.5lb tippet. He fought hard and heavily before Jeff put the brute in his net. We chose Jeff’s net for the boat because of its long handle, never thinking it only went to 14lbs! We’ve both seen a few very big fish from the canals and we agreed the fish was not less than 20lbs and not more than 25lbs. Jeff named the bay “The Bay of Pigs”. Apt indeed. Our exploration day certainly paid off! It’s funny how fishing days transpire sometimes..

In other news, the Clutha is fishing okay. I think it will improve when (if) it rises. Much of the water I did well in last winter is too low now but there are new areas for me to explore. The power companies release huge amounts of water from Lake Hawea on a regular basis but the water is short-lived and not there for long enough for fish to move into certain ares, or so it seems.. I’ve also had a look at some other rivers which are open until the end of May around these parts, but with limited success. The potential is there though. All my personal fishing seems to be exploratory. Guiding is a little different. I had a great wilderness heli mission with Jesse & Kaisa recently. We saw about 15 and had 4 or 5 eat the fly. That day also included one of the most intense fish fights of my guiding so far! It included the fish going through a snag with me following to get it out, me falling in the river and drowning Jesse’s iphone which was safely (oops!) in my top wader pocket, the fish going through my legs mid stream and just madness in general, all in the 200m battle.. by some miracle we got the fish in the net… where the hook fell out! A fantail landed on the rod at the beginning of the fight. They say this is good luck. Maybe it is!

The next 3 days I’ll be out with Tim Kempton. I’m just off the vice after tying 30 flies.. I have a plan – sort of!!

Tight lines..

Ronan..

For bookings and information contact me ronan@sexyloops.com or visit my website http://www.ronansflyfishingmissions.com