After a few rather uninspiring sessions at Farmoor Reservoir recently, I was determined to return and crack it. I managed to pick a similar day to previous conditions; warm, cloudy and with a small wind, enough to create a ripple on the water.
Arriving at 2pm, there was little happening on the top of the water so I started with a searching set-up: a leader of around sixteen feet with a heavy buzzer on the point, a pearly pheasant tail nymph on the middle dropper and a diawl bach on the top-dropper. The theory is that this allows me to fish different depths, both on the cast and by counting down, and covers a variety of different natural food sources. I started off methodically, casting into the margins first, then fan-casting slowly further out, trying different depths and letting the flies drift across the breeze. I tried a few different versions of each fly but after an hour I’d had no bites.
I decided to move round the reservoir so I had the wind at my back, in case the fish were searching upwind. As I walked, looking at the water, I noticed fish cruising just under the surface, moving quickly and seeming active. There was still no action on the top but I thought they might be feeding just under the surface. I swapped the middle dropper to a lightweight buzzer and put a sugar cube suspender buzzer on the point to keep the line higher in the water. Two casts later and I’d netted two lovely, large Farmoor rainbows which, as usual, fought like stink. Both fish had hit the sugar cube buzzer quite aggressively, not the gentle sip you would associate with emergers. I thought the white foam may have mirrored fry so I put a floating fry pattern on. Over the next hour, I caught one and missed half a dozen aggressive takes and follows to the fry pattern. Lots of fun but a little frustrating.
Things went dead for an hour but as early evening approached, the trout started head and tailing so I switched to a dry fly set-up: copolymer leader with CDC emerger on point and a shipmans buzzer on the dropper. I caught one on the shipmans but they were completely ignoring the CDC emerger. I stuck the sugar cube back on and immediately nailed two more rainbows. As the evening progressed, Sedges started hatching so I stuck on a homemade sedge pattern and landed another couple before the end of the session (but missed loads more bites).
Just like Beardy Paul’s recent sessions at Millan, the trout seemed to be fixated on taking flies off the top of the water, even in the absence of an obvious hatch or, initially at least, any surface action. Perhaps its the unusual weather – its warm but not very sunny and we haven’t had the hot conditions that would push the trout down deeper. Either way, its enormous fun!