I have reined in the loch style competition fishing this year to concentrate on other projects and the rivers. I had a couple of offers to go and fish an in-form Rutland in the Airflo invitational. But I had already committed to help the Soldier Palmers group three team out at Farmoor. Having seen the photographs coming from the Airflo and looked through the results I may well have made the wrong choice….lol.
I had been told that the fish at Farmoor were outstanding and not to fish less than 10lb tippet. I had also been informed that it was fishing really well, that was hogwash the fishing was as tough as a witch’s tit! Anyway, I arrived bright and early for practice, Farmoor is remarkably close to where I live and I was there in just over an hour. We were to have the whole team out for practice so we would cover most of the water.
I was to practice with Martin Jonik, a long-time supporter of the Army Angling Federation and a mad keen angler. Martin has fished with the federation for a long time as a sponsor but was keen to get involved with other aspects of competition fishing. The AMFC is the perfect way to get into comp fishing and group three is a great place to start. A friendlier more helpful bunch of anglers you would be hard pressed to find.
We had been reliably informed that the fishing was going to be hard. The lodge was a little disorganised with the only member of staff working who had just returned from holiday. What he found was a Group 2 AMFC match ready to go and a bunch of Group 3 anglers looking to get out and practice. He could not guarantee the reliability of the boats so did not charge us for there use. Anyway, enough preamble let’s talk fishing!
Martin and I started just outside the boat dock drifting towards No7 marker on the dam wall. It was not long before Martin hooked his first fish, the fight was epic the fish dragged the boat right around and you can see the big grin on Martins face when he eventually wrestled the fish to the boat. It kept coming another fish fell to Martins flies and then it was my turn to fight one of Farmoor’s fine fish. The quality of the fish was unquestionable and they seemed to be not as difficult as we had first thought. In the light wind we had only drifted maybe a hundred meters and we had boated four fish all over the 3lb mark.
We continued to work our way around the edges of the dam but time soon caught up with us and it was time to meet up for lunch. Not before Martin added another fish to our tally though. Curiously we had not seen many other rods bending, except one chap who was out in the middle and looked like he was casting to rising fish. We had spotted several rises and the prevalent ‘big red hatch’ hatch was on but nothing was coming to claim them as a meal. We had taken all our fish deep.
By the time our lunch time de-breif had finished it was clear we were doing ok. The afternoon was a little tougher though Martin stuck with the method while I worked flies and lines around him. By the end of our session it was clear that despite all my efforts the 5/7 competitor was the line of choice and counting down and pulling big orange nymphs was the best route to success. Before calling it a day we both went back to the sinkers and went for a drift where we had started ten minutes later we both had fish, time to go.
Match day dawned to a flat calm and when I say flat I mean as a well-cooked pancake! I had drawn Peter Baker a very experienced angler but relatively new to comp fishing. At over sixty he has come late to the game but has really been bitten by the bug. More strength to his arm I say!
I had drawn the engine and had resolved to start around No7, it was going to be tough I just did not know how tough! My spirits were lifted after an hour when Peter hooked played and landed his first fish like an old pro. The wind did not pick up even a little and despite moving we toiled. Peter had the best of it getting the odd pluck to keep him going. I on the other hand I had failed to provoke even a follow.
In the afternoon we spotted a group of rising fish and decided to give them a go. Getting to them was going to be difficult though as the dodgy engine we had was producing a whole other set of challenges! There was a steady rise on and I had switched to a couple of dries big reds initially and having covered a couple of fish for not even a swirl I changed to a single Midas. No joy there either it was time to get small, tippet scaled down size #16 Shipman’s, couldn’t fail, it did. It was very frustrating fishing but with only couple of hours left the slightest of breezes creased the surface of the water.
I decided to try provoking the fish into action by ripping a candy booby past their noses. I was rewarded with several follows but only one take that failed to stick. The wind died as quickly as it had arrived. With just 45 mins to go the breeze came again and Peter and I decided to head to the middle for the last half hour. Bizarrely, I still felt really confident that I could grind out at least one fish to spare my blushes. And maybe three casts before the end just on the hang my rod buckled over. My hard work and patience had been rewarded that’s what I thought as the rod and line went slack!
I don’t record many blanks but having had a quick count up on the water I was fairly sure the team had carried me. After the weigh in we were treated to lasagne, chips and salad it was very tasty and most welcome after a tough day on the water. The results were read out in reverse order and when Bewl was named as second there was no little sense of relief on my part.
The team had done brilliantly and Simon Culver shared the honour of top rod we had won by over 10lb a convincing win. I really enjoyed my couple of days fishing on the reservoir despite the lack of fish, many thanks to Martin and Peter for putting up with me. The Mayfly should start to be hatching in numbers soon so it’s off to the river for me next!
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