Tracy&James | Thursday, 1 June 2017

This weekend Tracy and I finally made it up to Farmoor reservoir in Oxfordshire, for the first time this year, we had a great day in perhaps not the best of conditions – largely sunny with a glassy flat calm. Farmoor 1 is unusual in the UK in that it is a large water authority supply reservoir that is wholly catch and release and, as such, the trout in it grow on well fuelled by a diet mainly consisting of chironomid pupa. At times the hatches of these buzzers can be so thick that you have to cover your mouth and nose to avoid sucking them in, as was the case as we headed back to the car on Sunday evening.

On our arrival the sun had yet to burn through the thin morning cloud and there was a little ripple on the surface, this along with the sight of rising trout made a dry fly the obvious choice.  My default dry for Farmoor is a black Shipman’s buzzer – I tie this with CDC breathers, a body made from twisted marabou and a pearl lurex rib, so not exactly the original dressing but still definitely recognisable.  Tracy also started with a CDC fly, favouring a suspender buzzer tied shuttlecock style.  Although we didn’t get the frantic action that we were perhaps expecting, we did both pick up some nice fish with a couple of misses along the way.  The rises became much less frequent once the sun came out and the slight breeze dropped to nothing.  This prompted me to change to a team of buzzers fished underneath a sight indicator.  Like it or loathe it, this is a very effective method in such conditions and I continued to get takes when others were clearly struggling.  The downside to this is that these takes are quite hard to hit for a couple of reasons; the fish are pretty wise to this method (it being popular on Farmoor) hence a lot of the takes are lightning fast plucks, and secondly there’s a 90 degree angle between the flies and the fly-line which makes efficient striking difficult.


What’s new for this year at Farmoor is that you can now use the same C+R ticket to fish the second reservoir that’s on site, the imaginatively named Farmoor 2.  1 and 2 are separated by a causeway, with 2 being the slightly larger expanse of water at 240 acres.   Once the takes I was getting on Farmoor 1 dried up I crossed the road to try the same approach in F2.  Within the first few casts I hooked (or rather didn’t) a very nice trout which took the indicator!  After an impressive jump the fish let go and I retrieved to find that the indicator, which was on the end of the fly-line, was now half way down the leader.  Added to this, the sudden ‘spring-back’ as the fish let go had made a complete bird’s nest of my set up.  Stubbornly I decided to unpick this mess rather than tie a whole new leader, which in hindsight would have been a lot quicker.  Once I was ready to go again there was a very slight breeze on the water, enough to gently move the fly-line, so I dispensed with the indicator and let my flies swing round naturally.  This proved to be irresistible to the trout and I proceeded to catch steadily for the next couple of hours, as well as missing countless fast ‘twitches’.  

Unfortunately the anticipated evening rise didn’t really happen.  There were a few fish rising very close in, possibly to sedge, but these proved impossible for me to tempt, although Tracy did manage a couple late on.  



This weekend is going to be focussed on casting sport for us.  Today we are heading to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire where this year’s game fair is to be held (July 28th – 30th).  We’ve been invited for a site visit to view the area for the casting competitions.  Last year the BFCC ran the single handed casting events for the first time and we’re hoping to build on the success of that weekend going forward.  The current plan is to have a daily trout distance competition with some great prizes, plus qualifying for the ‘championships’ in trout distance, sea-trout distance and salmon overhead distance, with the finals of these scheduled for the Sunday.  Tracy has already put out a calling notice to BFCC members asking for help in exchange for free entry and camping etc.  Last year this was a great weekend so if you’re wanting to join us please get in touch – volunteering doesn’t exclude you from entering either.


Tomorrow, we’re off up to Port Haverigg in Cumbria for a couple of day’s casting with Lee Cummings and some of the UK team (or English team depending on how the politics pan out – if it goes this way Tracy and I will be competing for team Wales).  Lee is busy organising the world fly casting championships for August 2018 to be held at this venue, so we’re looking forward to having a cast there and hopefully catching some sea breeze.

All the best, James