With an icey blast hitting the UK I still ventured out to do some well earned fly fishing on Farmoor 2 Reservoir in Oxfordshire. Despite the cold I wasnt disappointed. With ice jamming the line in the rings of the rod, feet feeling like lumps of ice, I was catching fish!
The fish were lying in very deep water, over 30 feet, so I needed the right kit to get there! With my favourite Enigma MIII #8 rod, I tackled up a #9 Di 7 Airflo 40+ fly line. you may note the line rating is one above the #8 rated rod. This helps load the rod very quickly and the whole 40 yard line is launched with one false cast, its amazing! I was using 10lb Airflo G3 fluorocarbon. No need to be shy on tippet material when fishing this deep with Boobys and the weight of the water at such depths and a full line out, anything lighter may break, especially on an aggressive take.
I wanted to keep my flies as deep as possible for as long as possible and there is no better way to do this than casting as much of the Di7 as you can and fish two boobys. I wanted to fish a variation of Boobys, so opted for a straggle Cat Booby and a Cut Throat Cruncher Booby. The Cut Throat Cruncher was a revelation in 2011! I fished a leader shorter than normal. only 13 feet, with 5 foot to the first dropper and 8 to the point. This keeps my flies relatively close to the bottom.
Several casts in I miss a typical booby take. Tap, Tap, BANG!! When fishing boobys you may feel ‘interest’ in your flies but wait for it all to lock up before striking. Having spoke to the rangers at farmoor, they advised we fished at least 60-80 yards from the bank where the natural clay lake bed begins. here the bloodworm are plentiful and this is where the fish were.
A very numb Pete Gathercole lifted the anchor and we dropped the anchor some 100 yards out which would be alien on most places this time of year. We weren’t disappointed. I was soon in to fish after letting the boobys drop for a timed 60 seconds with the very slowest of retrieves and long pauses in between. Both the Straggle Cat Booby and Cruncher Booby take fish. I kept changing the Boobys and the fish kept coming, a Blue Eyed Cat Booby, Black and White Humungus Boobys all took fish. They seemed to come at range at the end of the cast or almost vertical beneath the boat as the flies came up off the bottom. This proved the fish were lying almost on the lake bed!
We watched grebes diving and coming up with small fish so dedided to drift 200-300 yards from the bank and I continued to pick up fighting fit rainbows. What was amazing was that we were in 35+ feet of water, along way off shore and around no features and we continued to catch fish with plenty of offers too. The place must be stuffed with fish as this certainly wasn’t the hot spot. The hot spot was on the far shore with the wind pushing in. But, with frozen feet, ice jamming the rings and finger tips only warmed by a pulling trout, it was too cold even for a double world champion!!
Keep your flies as deep as possible in these conditions and fish as slow as possible, a team of boobys on just 13 foot of leader is perfect. The fishing in this cold snap can be fantsatic so wrap up warm and venture out.
Iain Barr Fly Selection Choice