With a decent couple of weeks off over Christmas and into the new year, I managed to get up to Farmoor Reservoir three times to enjoy some time on the water.
I had a night out in Oxford with some friends the weekend before Christmas so decided to have a quick bank session to help blow the cobwebs out. It was a relatively crisp start to the day but there was little wind and the sun offered some warmth later on. Catch reports suggested the fish were still fry feeding, albeit deep, with the boats out-fishing the bank. I decided to fish F1 in search of some large fry-feeding rainbows, so started with a DI3 with a single white minkie on point. I slowly counted the casts down, trying a few different retrieves but soon found the fly dragging through the remaining weeds. I switched to a foam head perch fry instead to keep the fly up in the water for longer and continued to count down. I was trying a slightly different retrieve with a big draw followed by a pause (to get the fly to rise in the water again) when the line went suddenly tight. I lifted into the take and felt a decent lump on the end which suddenly took off. After a decent fight, I brought a 4-5lb rainbow to the net. That was it, I thought I’d nailed it but, alas, it was not to be. Despite sticking with the fly, depth and retrieve for a while, trying different areas and then different flies, depths and retrieves, that was the only fish and take of the day. Still, nice to be out and it sorted out my hangover!
My birthday falls between Christmas and new year so as there’s not much going on, for the last few years I’ve had a day fishing. Given the previous bank trip, I’d booked a boat instead. It was misty to start but there was almost no wind and it threatened to be quite pleasant later on. I took the boat out intending to fish at the southern end of F2 but I could barely see 15 yards in front of the boat so decided to stop where I thought was close. I started with a DI7 and two boobies five feet apart; a perch fry booby and a sparkler booby. I fished blind for an hour with no joy until the mist lifted and I realised I was right in the middle of the reservoir! I adjusted my position to fish 50-100 yards off the bank with the very slight breeze pushing the boat parallel to the shore. I started with a twenty second count and worked my way down the levels, expecting the fish to be deep but not wanted to miss them and fish too deep. I’d got to fifty seconds with a slow figure of eight when I got my first little tap on the line. I kept retrieving and had a second and then a third nip. I resisted the urge to strip it in and eventually the line went tight and I had my first fish in the net, on the perch booby. Now I’d found the depth and a decent drift, the fish came steadily. I mixed up the retrieves when things went quiet and managed to catch on both a fast roly-poly (for the first time) and a slow figure of eight. I had six fish in total, two on the sparkler and the rest on the perch fry, which is not too bad for winter fishing.
With the holidays nearing an end, I got a surprising free pass from the missus for a day on the water. I toyed with the idea of going to one of the small lakes as part of my S&DAC membership but I couldn’t resist the lure of one more go at Farmoor from the bank. When I was in the boat I’d noticed the fish following the wind and not to far off the bank. I had a good idea of successful flies, the likely depth and retrieves; if I could just find fish within casting distance I could have a good day. To cut a long story short, I didn’t. I tried fishing into the wind, parallel to the wind, with the wind at my back, flies that had worked before and many others, different lines and depths and every different retrieve I could think of. All for one solitary tap. I think I just need to accept that the bulk of the fish are too far out and only fish from a boat next winter.