Winter is prime time for the smaller waters across the UK as many large reservoirs close, albeit for a much shorter period than some years ago.
For those who prefer a larger, more challenging venue then Farmoor Reservoir, hosting a World Bank Masters final sponsored by Airflo, continues to be open all year round. Occasionally closing during hotter summer months if water temperatures are too high.
It is here where I ventured for a days guiding last week. Again, the fishing was simply amazing with cracking fish up to 7lb right off the top! Farmoor is associated by some as a deep booby water and this is simply not true in many aspects. It has some of the best buzzer fishing I have had, fry time can be explosive and the dry fly fishing some of the best I have had.
Last week wasn’t the warmest days but with light winds and buzzers hatching there were fish moving! Off came the fast sinkers as me and now a good friend Ron Howard came up on to floaters and midge tips. I opted for my infamous Iain Barr original candy fab and two nymphs, a woofta buzzer and cut throat cruncher. I had a few brief few casts with a Minkie Booby and 4 fish smacked it off the top but none connected so the tried and tested fab was offered.
My partner for the day was having joy with a white minkie booby as fish harrassed it across the top but the confident takes were definitely coming to the much slower fished Fab, in fact, almost static! In a frantic 15 minutes I had landed 3 crackers to 7lb right off the surface!! I had to pinch myself that it was still February!!
We traveled the full lake taking fish in most spots with most offers certainly coming in the top 4 feet. Its important to keep on the move this time of year as often you have to go to the fish, they wont come to you. We tried deep in several places and we did hook in to fish proving like on most reservoirs there are two layers of fish, those feeding deep and those searching the higher layers. This is worth remembering for any winter trips as it is very typical on most fisheries.
Slow retrieves out fished anything pulled which is paramount for this time of year. The buzzers and crunchers caught fish too up to 5lb! The water was clear so I generally stuck with a lure and nymph combination and caught steadily through the day. My partner was having great joy on a minkie booby fished off the top and down deep and landed some crackers including a double up! With these Farmoor fish in tip top condition and plenty of 4-5lb fish and many bigger, don’t shy down in tippet if visiting there, especially for the Bank Masters! I was on 11.2lb new Airflo G5 fluorocarbon on the midge tip and 13.1lb new G5 on the Di5. These fish are strong, big and hit hard!!
If venturing out through these winter months try lures with an imitative fly too, it brings great rewards. Having enjoyed most of my day fishing slow on the midge tip, I couldn’t resist trying some of my new snake flies and WOW! The response was explosive and certainly fast and furious!
With entries closing for the Farmoor Bank Masters on 24th Feb, there is still time to enter! There are over 200 anglers booked in for the weekend with top anglers from the UL and Europe including Spain, Norway, Poland and Belgium joining in. We also have beginners and people fishing competitions for the first time which is exactly what we wanted. They want to be part of something big and take in the experience and learn something along the way which is exactly where I started some 30 years ago now. Wow, that long! 😉
Fly packs to try this month: