Farlows remains to be one of the UK’s premier day-ticket waters for a very good reason. Quite simply, they have created a complex that caters for every angler’s needs. Farlows is home to facilities such as a café, toilets, showers and a large tackle centre run by the Yorkshire-based firm Eric’s Angling Centre.
The facilities at Farlows are second to none, the majority of the swims can be parked behind, or, at worst, very close to, which means it has great access. The lakes offer bays, islands, weed beds, gravel bars and just about every feature you could possible want, so no matter what style of angling you are into, Farlows will have it.
The lakes can be found using the following address: Farlows Lake, Ford Lane, Iver, Bucks, SL0 9LL. You can also contact the fishery direct by using the following telephone number: (01753) 630302 or alternatively email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake One has a stock of around 1200 carp in 25 acres of water with an average weight somewhere around the 20lb mark. There are over 35 different 30lb fish in the lake, with the largest resident now in the region of 45lbs! Farlows itself has been around for decades and is steeped in history with some of the oldest and most prestigious day-ticket carp in the country.
Lake Two was originally part of the main body of water, however, a channel was put in separating the then 35-acre pit and creating a standalone venue of some six acres or more. With around 400 carp swimming in the lake and numerous 20lb fish, all topped by a lake record of over 30lbs, there are some really nice carp to go for. Lake Two is certainly the easier of the two waters and in my opinion, caters for anglers of all abilities. Despite the fish being slightly smaller on average, what they lack in size, they certainly make up for in looks, as there are some unbelievable fish swimming around in there.
In relation to the rules of the fishery, I would advise you to check out the comprehensive list that the venue have on their website before you make your visit to the fishery. One of the main rules I want to highlight is anglers who do not obtain a ticket on arrival may be charged an additional fee, or, may even be refused access to fish as a result. Therefore, setting up before obtaining a ticket is NOT permitted. Prices at the venue are very much kept in the range of most day-ticket lakes around the country now with a 12-hour session costing you £16 for three rods, or, £27 for 24-hours with the option of using up to three rods.
Farlows have a huge social media presence and you can check out any queries you have about the venue and also keep up to date with how the lakes are fishing by following their Facebook page and Instagram account. They also have plenty of YouTube footage from over the years, where anglers have documented their visits to the fishery and some of them are most certainly worth a watch. My personal advice would be to have a look on YouTube at: ReelFishingUK.
My session was due to take place in early January and my alarm went off at 4am early one Friday morning and I made the long journey down the M1 ready for the gates to open. The conditions looked spot on, the pressure was due to drop dramatically with an intermittent drizzle of rain forecast over the course of the weekend.
As I arrived at the venue, my first port of call was to get my nets and slings dipped at the lodge and obtain my ticket, once this was done I’d already had the heads up from a few mates who had fished here regularly over the years and they explained I needed to be looking at the pegs along the ‘smelly bank’. When you’re turning up completely blind to new venues you have never fished before it’s always a bonus to do your research online and gain as much information from anglers who have fished the lakes. Drawing on the information they had explained, the fish tend to hold up in an area of open water during the winter, between pegs 40 and 44 with peg 2 and 61 also commanding the back of the same piece of water, but, from the opposite bank. I was aware the lake wasn’t producing a lot of bites and the fishing was a bit ‘hit and miss’, but, in the end I decided on peg 41 as the rest of the swims were already taken.
As it was still getting light I decided to set the bivvy up before getting the rods into position. Not having seen the lake before, I wanted to make sure I presented my rigs as accurately as possible. At around 8am I could finally see out across the lake and I decided to have a couple of casts with a bare lead, just out in open water, I soon found the odd bar and deviation, but, there wasn’t a lot in terms of debris. I didn’t want to thrash the water to a foam, so, after a couple of practice casts, I wrapped my rods up to 20, 22 and 24 wraps, so that I could simply cover as much water as possible.
Interms of rigs, I was starting with my ever faithful solid bags, filled with Mainline Spod and PVA pellets and a few maggots. My hookbaits of choice were 12mm IB wafters and 12mm Salty Squid wafters. My rigs were constructed from 18lb Supernatural braid and size-4 Wide Gape X hooks. This tactic has worked well for me over the past six months and it’s perfect during the winter. It allows you to present a tight, compact, mouthful of bait – just enough to get a bite! By adding the maggots to the bags you’re adding a whole new dimension and it is something the fish don’t see all the time, one piece of advice is make sure you don’t burst the maggots when compacting your bags, otherwise it will melt the PVA.
The first day passed uneventfully, in fact, I hadn’t seen a carp and I hadn’t had any liners either, but, I was still quietly confident of nicking a bite through the hours of darkness. Normally I like to recast my bags just before sunset, but on this occasion, I’d decided against it. My thought process was that Farlows is extremely busy and with almost every peg taken at this point, I wanted to keep disturbance down to a minimum. I also wanted my solid bag to be the only food item out in front of me and you never know whether someone has filled it in with bait prior to your session on a day-ticket venue.
I woke up the following morning not having so much as a single bleep throughout the night. I was super-confident in the tactics I was using, but I just had a funny feeling that the carp weren’t in front of me. I recast the bags around 10am, with fresh hookbaits, ready for the remaining 24 hours I had left. I then sat next to my rods for most of the day, just hoping for any sign of a carp, but, unfortunately it never came. I went to bed that evening with a decision to make, setting my alarm for 6am in the process.
When I woke up, the rods had once again remained motionless and I had a decision to make. Either I could stay put for the rest of the day and hope the fish moved in front of my swim. Or, I could pack everything away and make the move onto Lake Two. After a brew I made the executive decision to make the move. I came to this conclusion because I literally had nothing to go on in peg 41, I hadn’t seen any fish out in front of me, I hadn’t had any liners and the pegs which had produced fish were three pegs down to both my right and left hand sides. The pack up was pretty swift to say the least and I promptly threw everything in the back of the car and made my way around the complex.
Lake Two looked pretty busy and as I made my way around the lake with my water canister, I’ve got to say, there weren’t many options. I approached the bottom bank furthest away from the lodge and there were two guys in peg 11, on the end of the wind, who explained they had only had one fish all weekend, with just a couple of fish being caught around the lake to the best of their knowledge.
My first thoughts were “brilliant, what else could go wrong?” However, drawing from previous experience on open-access waters, I politely asked the guys if they minded me reserving the swim until after they had left and I made my way back round to the lodge to collect my car. I chose peg 11 because the wind was mild and hacking into the peg, the guys had caught one, it commanded a lot of water, being a double swim, and, most of the angling pressure was up the other end of the lake.
Once I’d got everything in the swim, I had another big decision to make… I only had a few hours left before I had to make the long journey back up north. And with that I made a prompt call to work and booked a day’s annual leave for the following day, which gave me another 24 hours to catch – but would the decision pay off?
Whilst up at the lodge car park, I was made aware that the lake had a bar roughly halfway out in the lake, which the fish love to patrol along, luckily my first cast cracked down on the top of it and after clipping up and wrapping it around my distance sticks, it was an easy lob of 15½wraps. To begin with I spaced my rods out to cover the whole of the bar so I wrapped up to 14, 15 and 16 wraps which meant I had a rig at the front, on top and at the back of the bar.
Tactically at this point it would have been easy to start chopping and changing between rigs and baits, heck, after all, I’d just done a 48-hour blank on Lake One using my trusty solid bags. This, however, was never going to happen as sometimes you have to realise that you just aren’t on the fish, or, they aren’t willing to feed in front of you. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong and you have to remain confident in your style of angling. Hookbait-wise, I stayed with the wafters, tying up a yellow IB, a Mulberry Juice and a Fruity Squid to offer three different coloured hookbaits. If there’s one thing I have learnt over the years, it’s that on any given day the fish may prefer one particular colour, so this way I had all my options covered. If one hookbait started to produce, then I would switch all the rods onto it. I was quietly confident, although I knew there hadn’t been a great deal happen over the weekend, I just had a feeling something was going to.
It didn’t take long for my right hand rod to burst into action and I was into a fish within half an hour of casting out. It turned out to be an awesome fully scaled mirror, nothing big, but welcome to say the least and I knew I was onto a winner. The first thing I did was get the rod back out onto the spot. It was the rod I placed at 16 wraps at the back off the bar on a pink Fruity Squid. Twenty minutes later and I was away again, this time on the middle rod. Again the fish turned out to be of a smaller stamp, but, at this point it became a case of just working my way through them, until one of the bigger fish came along.
By early afternoon it was time to put the football on as Manchester United were playing, however, if I managed to watch 20 minutes of the game then that’s all I did watch, because the bites just kept coming and coming. I was soon on eight fish and it didn’t seem to matter what hookbait, or, where I cast to, they were just there and waiting.
Eventually bite number nine came and I was met with a solid resistance, the fish initially shot over the back of the bar and I could feel my line grating along its length, but, after a few tense seconds, I managed to turn it and thankfully it came back over my side of the offending hump. The fight was pretty intense and lasted around 15 minutes. Usually I like to play my fish quite firmly, not pulling their heads off, but still with some pressure. I guess with really wanting to see what I was attached to, I eased off. As the fish surfaced, I could see it was a good ‘un, twisting and turning in the clear water and I could see my little Fruity Squid wafter hanging out of the corner of its mouth. After one more minute, there was one last gulp of air and she went in the net! The fish weighed in at 25lb and was one of the lake’s better fish. All of a sudden I felt the relief, going from feeling deflated and the session looking like a blank, to this point where I was now hauling and all in the space of a few, short hours. It just goes to show that no matter how the lake is fishing, if you get the tactics right, even through the winter, you can still produce big hits of fish and boy had I certainly got the tactics right so far.
Going into the last night the action continued with bites coming every half an hour or so, with carp of all sizes from single-figure fish to some just under 20lb in weight. Just before first light I’d notched up my 23rd bite and landed 18 of them. I was absolutely knackered. It didn’t end there though as in the end the action got that hectic I decided to leave the rods out of the water, leaving just one on the spot. At 7am the final rod roared into action and I was met with that solid resistance again. After giving a really good account of itself, I landed another cracking Farlows mirror of 24lb. I decided to nickname the fish ‘Pacman’ as it had one massive scale on its left-hand flank that resembled, you guessed it, Pacman!
24 bites in the remaining 24 hours had certainly justified me taking the risk and booking a day’s annual leave at work. If you’re willing to put the effort in and keep going when things aren’t going your way then eventually you will be rewarded. This was my first time to Farlows and what an awesome place it is. You can see why it is one of Britain’s premier day-ticket venues as it has absolutely everything you would want.
I will certainly be back one day. A big shout out to Rob Burgess, Brad Greening and Daniel Daneshi for the advice prior to my session.
Be Lucky, Loz.