Club member for more than 50 years, Ray Clayton (360), has penned a few words about his recollections of the founding of the club, early days of the reservoir fly fishing and our eventually departure from Farmoor I. Click the link below to see his written word:
The following is my typed up version.
Fly-Fishing at Farmoor Reservoir with historical notes
I was introduced to Fly Fishing by my good friend and shooting companion Gordon Hallet who was no.8 a founder member of the new Farmoor Fly-Fishing Club. Together with Fred Taylor, Dr Cook, Archie Hobley, Ron Foreman and ‘Brigadier Darlow’:- Cyril Barker chaired a meeting in Oxford townhall.
Farmoor stage I had been completed in 1965. Construction having been started in 1962. Later on a second stage II was added being filled in 1977. The reservoirs were built after the serving of a compulsory purchase order on the land owned by my then brother in law Robert Howse of Lower Whitley Farm (512 acres) whose family my sister had married into in 1954. The land was rich arable land on which wheat crops were grown and had a gravel supply used on the Oxfordshire roads. A small lake was engulfed and the private road to the farm house from the B4017 lost under water.
Lower Whitley Farm House housed the original Tudor staircase (cut from the adze) that Amey Robsart wife of the Earl of Dudley was reported to have been pushed down. The staircase was taken from Cumnor Place, next to Cumnor St Michaels Church. Mentioned in Scotts book ‘Keniworth’. The staircase is still in existance albeit on the edge of Farmoor II.
Farmoor I was allowed to stand for two years , water of the correct pH value having been taken from the adjacent River Thames and snail introduced.
Farmoor Fly Fishing obtained the lease to fish and the club opened to fine sport rainbows and brown trout having been introduced to the water.
Fly life was good -often prolific with chironomid (buzzer) hatches, fish succumed to dry flies as well as to lures and attractors -fished deep. Walking around the water in the earlier years many fish were seen cruising the reservoir edges -well within casting distance. Fish fought well size for size, were of excellent-quality and limit bags were the order of the day. Fish often took the fly as it landed on the water.
Lake fishing –the advent of new reservoirs natural and artificial brought ‘Fly Fishing’ to many who could not afford the highly prized chalk-stream and syndicate fishing on selective rivers privately owned and keeper managed. Places like Chew-Magna-Blagdon offered very good fishing at a reasonable cost.
Alex Behrenot pioneered ‘Lake Fishing’ establishing Two-Lakes in Hampshire. His wife Katherine wrote the book ‘The Management of Angling Waters’ (1980). It was from Two Lakes that Commander C. F. Walker took flies and nymphs to study draw and copy. Reference book ‘Lake Flies and their Imitations’. Fishermen looking for guidance should read the following T.C. Ivens great influence on the development of reservoir fishing 1952 book ‘Still Water Fly Fishing’. Flies Black and Peacock Spider, lures Jersey Herd, Alexandra.
Dick Walker famous ‘carp’ record holder. Good book on flies: Fly-dressing innovations. Recommended: Mayflies. Nymph excellent (Dam-buster lure). Find these authors in the ‘New Encyclopaedia of Fly-Fishing’ by Conrad Voss Bark and Eric Restall. Pub. Robert Hale. ISBN 0 709063083.
Note: This information may not be entirely accurate as it is written from the ‘memory’ of a 88 year+ old.
Farmoor Fly Fishing Club (1968 – 2018) RA Clayton.
At Farmoor on Thursday 11th January 2007yr an extra-ordinary general meeting at the Oxford Sailing Clubhouse was called to invite members of Farmoor F/F to discuss a report from Thames Water re renewal of the licence for the club to continue to fish at Farmoor I. A motion was put to the club to continue to the 31st of Dec. 2007 when Thames Water will not renew our contract.
37 voted for immediately stopping.
34 voted for the continuation for the remaining year.
Fishing at Farmoor (as a club) is now at an end.
Fortunately the club had purchased a lake; 40 acres (the site is 40 acres the water is 25, Ed.) at Hardwick named after a founder member Brigadier Darlow -now known as Darlow Water and fishing continues as before.
Farmoor I became a day ticket water (380 acres total I & II)
Farmoor II established in 1976 (annual & day ticket of 240 acres)
Farmoor I now open and available to all catch and release water. Rainbow and Brown trout average 3 to 4 lbs. Angler to take a maximum of 1 fish per day.
Phone: Reservoir centre on 07747 640 707. Online at: www.thameswater.co.uk. By telephone 0845 9200888.
Price list and leaflet, fishing at Farmoor reservoir, Thames Water.
Footnote: An excellent new book 2007. Successful Reservoir Fly Fishing Techniques by Adrian V W Freer. Crowwood Press. ISBN 987 1 86126 9300.