I’d spent the summer trying out some alternative fly fishing options (Carp, Bass and Mullet) before hitting the midlands reservoirs with Beardy Paul in September. As much as I love Farmoor, its not the best place to fish during a long hot summer. Maybe its the concrete but it seems to take much longer than other waters to cool down in the autumn. However, early November saw the first frosts and I thought it would be worth a trip back to Farmoor to see if the trout were on the fry.
The day I picked was a perfect winters day; frosty and cold in the morning (3 degrees when I arrived) with a bright sun which warmed the air later in the day. The wind was coming from the west, so I drove to the opposite side of F1 where the wind would be slightly from behind but with a decent ripple on the water. I started with a slow intermediate, a natural rabbit hair minkie on point and a Silver Invicta on the dropper about six feet apart. I kept at it for twenty minutes before changing the point fly to a white humongous which would stand out a little more and give me the option of a bit more depth.
With no interest after the first hour I decided a change of location was needed and walked round to the corner of the causeway which separates the two waters. As soon as I stopped, I saw a couple of pods of fish mooching slowly around about a foot or so under the surface. This is the type of behaviour they display in the summer when the water is too hot so I was not overly optimistic. Nevertheless, I put a popper fry on the point to see if I could get their attention on the surface (no luck) before switching to a washing line. I tried numerous combinations of FABs/Blobs with diawls, buzzers, cormorants and hares ear but these fish were just not feeding; the water was clear enough to see them just ignore everything.
I stopped for a bite to eat and decided to try my luck on the other side of the reservoir. Although it was into the wind, the water was more lively and it just looked a bit more ‘fishy’. I switched to a fast intermediate to give me more depth options and started off with a white minkie. I mixed up the retrieves and finally had a bite, just a nip but it at least showed interested fish. It also suggested they wanted it moved quickly. After a while I switched to a white humongous and had my first fish on a quick strip retrieve. I thought it was a stockie as it didn’t look very big but the streaks of silver in the tail suggested in had been in a while. I was a bit surprised it hadn’t put on more weight but perhaps the hot water over the summer had put them off feeding.
After no further action for a while, I switched to a black and silver humongous and tried a roly-poly retrieve high in the water. This resulted in lots of follows and, eventually, my second rainbow. Two more followed, one to the black and silver humongous and one to a black and gold humongous; both with a roly-poly. The humongous flies were from Fish 4 Flies and they really proved to be effective as fry patterns on the day.
Autumn fly fishing on reservoirs can be a bit patchy and it seems even more so this year. Overall, I was pleased to find some fish interested in chasing, even though I got the impression it was aggression rather than because they were feeding on fry. I wonder in retrospect whether the wind had oxygenated the water a little more on one side, as the fish were certainly livelier. Hopefully, as the water cools even more the fishing will improve although we might be into December at this rate!