Far more than a reservoir

I guess when most anglers think about reservoir fishing the first image that comes to mind is of a guy in a boat, bobbing on an inland sea whilst holding a stocked rainbow trout up for the camera. And there’s plenty of that going on at Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire but that’s only part of the story in this particular corner of the Thames Valley.

For years now Angling Trust members have enjoyed generous discounts on their trout fishing at this well run fishery which offers both catch and release fishing as well as traditional catch and keep bag limits. Situated five miles west of Oxford and surrounded by beautiful views of the countryside, Farmoor Reservoir is a 400 acre reservoir, split by a kilometre causeway and owned and managed by Thames Water who offer a 10% discount to Angling Trust Members on all available fishing.

For game anglers in particular this is well worthwhile.

– Day ticket bank fishing on Farmoor 1 catch and release (big fish) £22.50 (normal price £25)

– Mid week season ticket on Farmoor 2 £427 (normal price £475)

– Full week season ticket on Farmoor 2 £540 (normal price £600)

Those trout fishing regulars soon worked out that the £60 they save on their annual season ticket was worth the price of their AT membership alone. And even without the discounts Farmoor represents a good value thanks to a generous stocking policy. The three on site rangers – Nigel Faulkner, Mark Loughray and Ben Farley – are extremely knowledgeable and one of them is always on hand to offer advice and to deal with customer enquiries. They keep a constant head of fish with a generous annual stocking of rainbow and brown trout. Stocked fish range from 1.5 to 3lbs, but soon pack on weight in the food rich water. The reservoir also benefits from extensive coarse fish stocks due to water intake off the main river although these may reduce with the recent installation of eel screens. Apparently the late Peter Stone found a 20lbs bream washed up dead on the banks some years back and the venue is renowned for its winter predator fishing.

Perch specialist Paul Parnell with one of many specimens from Farmoor Reservoir

Angling Trust members can claim their 10% discount on Thames Water’s Winter Predators Season or Day Ticket (season open from Nov 1st until Feb 28th). Reservoir 1 has a large number of smaller pike with confirmed 20lb fish but the potential for bigger. Reservoir 2 has a low stock of very large pike including the possibility of the fish of a lifetime. Both venues hold specimen perch to over five pounds and these have been much sought after in recent years.

Massive pike inhabit this food rich environment

For more information call the Farmoor Warden’s Lodge on 07747640707. To buy a season or day ticket just turn up with your Angling Trust membership card and pay at the venue.

River Thames fishing

All of the above (minus the discounts) can be found at other reservoir sites but there is far more to had at Farmoor. The site has a cafe, a countryside walk and three well kept nature reserves. But best of all for us river anglers there’s some 1.75 miles of prime upper Thames fishing to be had completely free of charge for AT members or for the price of a day ticket.

The Farmoor site has three car parking areas giving easy access to 1.75 miles of prime upper Thames coarse fishing

The stretch runs around the entire western side of the reservoir and has three parking areas as can been seen on the sketch map here. It includes a nice mixture of bends with plenty of cover, some deeper areas around Skinner’s Island and the water intake and then the wider stretches to Pinkhill Lock and the weirstream down to the Eynsham Road. There are a wide variety of species to target with a particularly good head of roach and bream. As with most of the Thames these days there is some great perch fishing to be had with fish to over 3lbs and the pike are never far away. The chub potential is pretty untapped on this lightly fished water and although stories of 7lbs fish are told we certainly know of some genuine sixes that have come out in the winter months along with the occasional large barbel and carp.

Top Oxford match angler Jason Bean in action on the Thames behind Farmoor Reservoir.

Taster Session

A few weeks ago I received a phone call from Head Ranger Nigel who was keen to get more river anglers down there as he and his colleagues had been clearing out swims at the top of the fishery. I agreed to contact some of the leading match anglers in the Oxford area to have a taster session on the stretch to assess its potential for both competitions and possible ‘Let’s Fish’ events to promote angling participation.

On the day we were joined by Jason Bean, Henry Clarke and Stu Keable to put the venue through its paces. Unfortunately the river was running stale and clear so we feared it might prove a struggle. As it happened, whilst the bream shut up shop, there were plenty of roach, perch and chublets happy to have a go in the far from ideal conditions. Jason was top rod with a 12lbs plus pole caught bag of mainly roach which included some nice specimens. Stu managed to leave his carefully prepared groundbait at home and so fished the waggler over hemp and maggots for a mixed bag of around seven pound and Henry had similar from the upstream peg. I tried in vain to catch a two pound perch for the cameras but could only manage them up to 12ozs and contrived, somehow, to lose the only decent perch I hooked!

Quality roach are present in this stretch of the Thames along with perch, bream, chub and the occasional carp and barbel

Stu Keable with a nice waggler caught bag on a tricky day

All of us were of the view that in the right conditions the stretch would produce much bigger bags. Jason in particular would like to see more swims cleared so that the venue could host the occasional evening competition.

He said:

“That fishery holds a lot of potential with easy access, good parking and a decent path. With some good swim management it could really help match angling on the Thames in the Oxford area.”

Whether or not Farmoor gets to host river matches remains to be seen but in the meantime we are keen to see more anglers down there in the winter months. Just make your way to the Rangers Office to book in and buy your £5 day ticket. Or even better join the Angling Trust and fish it for free!

Join the Angling Trust here – https://anglingtrust.net/membership/

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