Wayne Mansford gives us his top tips for fishing one of his favourite day-ticket venues: Farlows Lake!
Farlows really is a venue close to my heart, having been the place where I started fishing with my dad at around the age of 10. I then worked in the tackle shop at weekends in my teens and went on to bailiff the Lake at one point as well. All in all, I’ve been turning up to fish the Lake for over 20 years now and will continue to do so.
Farlows fits my fishing desires perfectly. Work hard at it and you can enjoy bite after bite, coupled with an exciting anticipation that your next fish could be an absolute lump. That’s perhaps one of the greatest things about Farlows Lake. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve just started fishing and are looking to learn a few things, or if you’re a seasoned angler targeting specimen carp. With a large head of scaly mirrors and stunning commons, as well as a few carp over the 40lb mark, the venue has something for everyone.
As you’ll see from my tips here, there’s no need for a complicated approach, just sound and simple tactics; methods that are just as easy to apply as picking up your day ticket on arrival!
Just like any carp lake really, the first thing to think about at Farlows is location and finding the fish. There’s a really good team of bailiffs at the Lake and they will be more than happy to help point you in the right direction, as their finger is on the pulse, so to speak, with what’s been coming out, etc.
After that, take a good look around. When the fish are active they will jump and show their whereabouts. There are also plenty of visual features such as the islands, bays and channels, so if you’ve nothing else to go on, try and target these spots in a favourable area such as those receiving a warm wind, for example.
Bites can come very quickly at Farlows when you’re on the fish, so keep watching the water and be prepared to move if fish show elsewhere.
Sun out, zigs out!
There’s a good head of carp in Farlows that aren’t afraid to roam the Lake in groups that quickly move to the upper layers when they warm up. Zig rigging can be a prolific method when they do, especially around the central, open-water area of the Lake where you’d expect cruising fish to pass through.
Micro or trimmed pop-ups and foam hookbaits are the way to go (black foam tipped with a strip of red or yellow foam works really well), coupled with light, pre-stretched mono hooklinks of 10lb breaking strain are fine. If you think nearby islands could cause problems and a little more pressure to navigate fish away from any such hazard could be required, then step up the hooklink to 12lb mono. Six feet always seems to be a good depth to start with, but don’t be afraid to tweak this and cast the zigs about.
With the numerous islands dotted around the Lake being some of the main features, casting accurately is an absolute must. Without a doubt getting rigs in tight to the island margins is a tactic that is more prolific the tighter you get.
To safely do this sort of casting with little fuss, it is vital that you use the line clip on the reel and measure your cast. The best way of doing this is to initially cast just a bare lead and edge your casts closer and closer a bit at a time, again using the line clip, until you have a cast that zips in nice and tight to the island. Before attaching any rig, though, use the ‘two bankstick trick’ to record the distance. Wrap the line between two banksticks a rod length apart, counting the wraps until you reach the clip. Then record the number of wraps and distance so you can repeat the process and cast accurately every time with confidence.
Spread your boilies
Particles and pellets can work at Farlows, but with bream and species of fish other than carp also present, boilies really do rule the roost. The carp love boilies, but see a lot of them at times, and I find it pays to really spread your boilie feed around, especially when fishing the open water areas.
Using a throwing stick at last light when the gulls are less of a problem is a great way of doing this. Putting a bit of distance between the baits will encourage the fish to move around more from bait to bait and make them far more catchable. This style of baiting also suits the type of bottom and rig presentation I’m going to talk about next.
You will find the lakebed at Farlows goes up and down a bit. There are clean and raised gravel spots to be found, but there is also silt and a good covering of low lying weeds such as silkweed in much of the Lake; nothing that causes too many issues, just a bit of a hindrance to consider when it comes to hookbait presentation.
I’ve already mentioned that a wide scattering of boilies is a good tactic, as is casting around and casting at showing fish, but throw a bit of silkweed into the equation and you need a rig with versatility as well as one to provide some reassurance. A long hooklink is one good option, but my favourite by far is the chod rig. Fished in the naked style with safety components such as the Korda Heli-Safe System, the choddy suits the fishing at Farlows really well and catches me plenty of fish.
Okay, you’re probably getting the picture now: plenty of mobile and active fish; zigs work, as does a nice spread of boilies down on the bottom; and casting at showing fish can be very productive, but you need to consider the weed. There’s just one more thing to add that helps with, or complements, all of these things, and that’s a bright hookbait. I just cannot stress enough how prolific bright hookbaits are at catching the Farlows carp. No matter what the colour or flavour your feed may be, make sure you’re fishing a bright over the top.
Pink, yellow, white... they all work extremely well at Farlows; so much so that fishing single, bright hookbaits is always a cracking tactic at any time of year, not just the colder months. Make sure you get on the brights, get over to Farlows, and enjoy the fantastic day-ticket fishing the venue has to offer!