Fishing Farmoor in the winter off the bank can be a fickle thing; the trout tend to lie deep in the cold weather and, generally, too far off the bank to reach easily. So, for the past few years, I have had a few days fishing F2 from a boat. This gives access to much deeper water and, hence, the fish but does require a slightly different technique – back drifting. Essentially, this just means fishing off the back of a drifting boat (rather than in front with loch style). The reason for this is just to get down to the fish – using a DI7 sinking line and a booby (or two) will get you down to the fish (without snagging the bottom) but it will often take a couple of minutes.
I’d booked a day early in the new year and rocked up to northerly winds and freezing temperatures. Still, with plenty of layers on and a couple of flasks of hot coffee, I loaded the boat and headed to the southern end of the reservoir. I’ve found fish here between 150-200 yards off the bank and the wind direction meant I could drift parallel to the bank. I started with a black humungous booby on point and a sparkler booby on the dropper. Often at Farmoor, depth is the most important factor so I started a countdown at 40 seconds just in case the fish were holding higher in the water.
It soon became apparent that I was drifting too quickly as I was running out of line at a 70 second count and had not found any fish at that level. I removed the dropper and shortened the leader to 3 feet with a single small coral booby with smaller eyes. This gave enough extra depth to get my first nip at around 95 seconds. Once I’d found the depth, I repeated the drift and hooked into my first rainbow soon after, followed by another later in the same drift. Over the next few hours I managed seven decent rainbows of 3-4lb, all falling to the same fly, at around the same level, over a relatively small drift, and all on a slow figure of eight. The wind made it tricky to get down to the right depth and it meant that the drift needed to be re-set quickly; I’ve no doubt on a calmer day it would have been possible to have lots more fish.
With the light fading early, I finished the day drifting in towards the boat jetty and picked up a few bonus fish. These were noticeably smaller (probably from the last stocking), higher in the water (only 60 seconds down) and seemed to prefer a faster retrieve.
It’s not the most enjoyable method but its very successful at this time of year and gives the opportunity to bring some hard-fighting trout to the net throughout the winter months.