From early June the weather had warmed up significantly with several weeks of twenty degrees plus and bright cloudless skies. After a slight delay, it was not surprising when the fishing started to suffer and it looked like a repeat of the last few years when we may as well have taken the summer off. But in mid-June the weather suddenly turned, with several days of rain and temperatures plummeting to eleven or twelve degrees. Once it had settled, I decided to go for a day to Farmoor to see if the cooler temperatures had livened the fish up.
The day seemed pretty much perfect; a steady fifteen degrees, overcast and with a gently ripple. I decided to fish F1 as it generally gets less pressure and, as the dedicated catch and release fishery, the fish tend to be a little bigger. Over the years, I have found the fish tend to be on the leeward shore at this time of the year, possibly because there is more food blown onto the water.
I set-up on the east bank, just round the corner from the tower and forced myself to sit and watch for a while. It was immediately obvious that the fish were high up in the water as I could see the odd rising fish and the water was clear enough to see fish cruising close to the surface. They were also not very far out. Confident, feeding fish, in easy reach boded well, if I could figure out what they were eating.
I started with a black diawl bach on the top dropper, a black buzzer on the middle dropper and a black sugar cube emerger on point to keep the whole cast up high. It might sound like a lot of black but that seems to be the predominant buzzer colour most of the year at Farmoor. Within the first few casts I had a delicate take on the diawl bach which was on for a while but then slipped off. Not long after, I had another delicate take on the buzzer but this again slipped the hook. Then I went through a quiet period while the fish continued to occasionally rise around me.
Something wasn’t quite right. I tried smaller versions of the same flies fished absolutely dead still, then larger flies with a slightly quicker retrieve, then a buzzer on the end to fish slightly deeper, all with no interest. I tried some olive flies and a bright pink blob on point which provoked a little interest but no takes. With fish continuing to rise I got my dry fly rod out and tried a shuttlecock, sedge and daddy for a few swirls but no proper connections.
There were dimples in the water that suggested something was hatching and the fish continued to sip something off the top. Eventually, something flew past my face and I managed to reach out and grab it. It was a bright red midge, a colour I’d never seen hatching at Farmoor before. I dug around in my fly box and put on a big red and a red bobs bits. This was immediately successful as second cast a rainbow sipped in the bobs bits. I had another couple of rainbows within a short period on the bobs bits (I think the big red was a bit, well, big) before the rises stopped.
I switched to nymphs then but maintained the colour theme with a red Nemo cruncher on the top dropper, a red holo diawl bach on the middle dropper and a bergundy buzzer on the point. This was the start of an amazing 4-5 hours of fishing with fish after fish coming to both of the droppers. I switched the point fly to fish slightly higher or lower and caught a few but it was the red nymphs which ruled.
By early evening I had lost count of how many fish I’d caught so I put the nymphs down and picked up the dry fly rod. There were a few fish rising again and I was hoping for a big sedge hatch but it never quite materialised. I picked-up another handful of fish on the red bobs bits and a red shipmans.
As the rain started to fall gently it went a bit quiet and having had an amazing day already I decided to call it a day. But as I was walking back round by the tower I noticed a lot of action with the trout slashing at something. I quickly put a big bushy sedge on the end of my nymph set-up which provoked a bit of interest but no takes. I had another dig in the box and tied on an orange hopper which had a bright red hotspot head. This really provoked some interest, particularly when stripped back quickly as soon as the fly hit the water. I had a final exciting half an hour, picking up another handful of fish on this method before calling it a day, tired and happy.
I’ve had some great days at Farmoor but this one was probably one of the best. It was tricky at first but once I managed to ‘match the hatch’ the fish were very obliging.
Some highlights of the day…