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Farlows Staff Fish of the Year 2022

Farlows Staff Fish of the Year 2022
Posted in: News & Events
LeeB
by

With 2023 well underway and as we look forward to new fishing adventures in the months ahead, we asked some members of the Farlows team to cast their minds back to 2022 and share their most memorable fish of the year.

TOM CLINTON, RETAIL MANAGER

My fish of the year wasn’t, in fact, caught by me. In late November I flew to the Eastern Cape in South Africa to visit my sister and her family where they manage a small game reserve that mainly focuses on hunting, but also features several small lakes. My brother-in-law is not as passionate a fisherman as I am, but a year prior to my visit he had stocked one of the lakes with two largemouth bass (a male and a female) as an experiment to see if they would procreate and perhaps add another feature to their list of pastimes for visiting clientele.  

My niece, Rose, is seven years old and fishing mad. The first thing she asked me upon my arrival was “we have bass now; did you bring your fishing rods?” Of course, I had arrived with a Sage X 9’ 7wt rod and a trusty Abel Super 7 with a selection of fly fishing lines and big fluffy streamers, so I was already well prepared to deal with Rose and her budding fishing obsession!

Tom's niece Rose, seven years oldTom's niece Rose, seven years old
Tom's niece Rose, seven years old

The next morning at the crack of dawn (5am or thereabouts) I dusted the sleep from my eyes and Rose and I hopped into the Land Rover to go and see if these bass had indeed proliferated.  I rigged up a RIO Streamer Tip float/intermediate line with 15lb fluorocarbon and a medium sized olive intruder fly and cast the line out into the middle of this small lake.  

Almost as soon as the fly had a chance to sink slightly, a bass the size of the palm of my hand grabbed it and was very easily brought to hand. This proved that the parental bass had indeed been hard at work over the previous 12 months, as the subsequent two casts also yielded some small yet perfectly formed fish.  

Rose was giddy with excitement, though having never cast a fly rod before she would have struggled with the heavier setup, and so I made a long cast out into the middle of the lake and handed her the rod.  

She followed my instructions perfectly, stripping the fly back through the depths with a short, sharp jerking action when suddenly her balance was tested as she was pulled towards the water by something on the end of the line – fish on!

Holding her by her shoulders so she wouldn’t take a swim, she lifted the rod into the fish as instructed and pulled it in all on her own, gleefully screeching the whole time – her first bass on fly, and a notable size to boot! She subsequently sent me a Christmas card saying that she only wants to fly fish in the future.

I am a very proud uncle!

Tom Clinton's Niece with a lovely bassTom Clinton's Niece with a lovely bass

SIMON TILBURY, GROUP HEAD OF MARKETING

3I only fished 4 rivers last season, and each provided a memorable fish or two, for differing reasons. In April while on holiday in North Devon with my wife and kids I managed to grab 3 hours late one sunny afternoon on the East Lyn (I’d packed some fishing stuff into the car, you know, just in case).

My permit to fish in stunning, rugged scenery for plucky wild brownies cost £3.50. The fish were small but punched well above their weight and were quite exquisitely marked. This one fell to a black Klinkhammer:

Wild brownie caught in North Devon Wild brownie caught in North Devon
Beautiful North Devon Wild Brownie

The river Avon at Upavon, Wiltshire and the stretch above it owned by Manningford Trout Fishery I’ve fished pretty much every mayfly season for over 20 years, ever since my parents moved to a neighbouring village. My brother now lives close by too. Until recently, I considered this my home stretch.

This year I could only manage a single day, shared with Hugh, one of my long time fly fishing friends. We’d had some good sport and a whole bunch of wild brownies, hard work to begin with then a flurry of fish as the day wore on. Hugh had to depart around 6pm so we drove back in my car to the start of the beat at Upavon where he’d parked his car and said our goodbyes. While there wasn’t much happening on the surface, the river in the early evening sun looked so inviting so I gave myself a final few casts. I’m glad I did as this lovely grayling rewarded a tricky cast under some branches, my only grayling of the year:

River Avon GraylingRiver Avon Grayling
River Avon Grayling

I’m not really a salmon fisherman. I’ve never cast a big double handed fly rod in a huge river. But for over 25 years I’ve been going with the same bunch of friends for 3 days in late October to the Upper Coquet, high in Northumberland’s Cheviot Hills. I fish with a 9ft 5 weight, because the river’s so small that I don’t need anything bigger. The quality of the food and drink has improved each year, while inversely the numbers of salmon and sea trout caught has declined. The two are definitely not related.

More recently, we blank more than we catch, perhaps not surprising given the dates we can all go are determined by our wives’ birthdays, and so we’re at the mercy of praying that there will be fish that far up the river system and that the water is fishable when we get there. So imagine the smile on my face when I’d landed and released two salmon around 6lb on the same Silver Stoats Tail in the first 90 minutes on the river this year. And caught two more salmon there, including one over 10lbs, two days later. This is the first salmon:

River Coquet SalmonRiver Coquet Salmon
River Coquet Salmon

I’m only on my 3rd season of what I now consider to be my home stretch, a secret tiny chalkstream myself and one other lucky rod rent from the farmer for a very modest sum. It’s completely unmanaged, except for our few occasional working parties to keep it accessible. You get in at the start of the beat and wade upstream for just over a kilometre because the banks are so overgrown there’s nowhere to physically get out. It’s very challenging fishing for wild brownies, and it’s bliss.

Small rod, light line. I use only 4 fly patterns throughout the season and lose most of them in the Hawthorn and Willow trees. While they are spooky, if you get it right the fish aren’t particularly picky. Most of them are under 1lb, but there are some much larger fish. My biggest last season was just over 4.5lbs (weighed in my McLean Short Handle Weigh Net), stalked at close range and after refusing a PTN and GRHE finally taken on a little green shrimp trout fly in a channel barely a metre wide on the middle of this image:

A secret tiny chalkstream A secret tiny chalkstream
A secret tiny chalkstream

I’m not sure which of the above is my most memorable. A small but perfect wild brownie, a very big one from a tiny space, a grayling on a final cast, or 4 salmon in a single trip. What I do know is that they’ve all been keeping me going through these dark, cold months in different ways.

Bring on April!


ASHTON POHL, SALES ADVISOR

Although 2022 held many special catches, this beautiful brown trout caught on the Welsh Wye during a somewhat rainy few days suits the bill perfectly. 

The last hour of a fruitless day revealed this fish hovering above a submerged rock slab at the tail end of the pool, feeding occasionally when the sun crept out from the clouds and a small hatch trickled down the river. 

I sat and watched the fish as the sun made its way through the patchy clouds and after many hair-raising attempts the fish finally fell to a size 20 adams on a long fishing leader that was sent into the sky. The fish leaped around the pool giving the 7’6 Sage Dart, a core part of my river trout fishing tackle, a fair fight to the net and safely released. 

Welsh Wye Brown TroutWelsh Wye Brown Trout
Welsh Wye Brown Trout

A great way to end a challenging trip and a memorable catch for 2022! 


LUCY BOWDEN, MARKETING EXECUTIVE 

2022 was a super busy year for me – I planned a wedding, got married and changed jobs so free time for fishing was very limited.

Prior to last year, my fishing was varied, and our holidays always incorporated fishing. We’ve been lucky enough to have visited and fished in some beautiful places; Italy, Slovenia, New Zealand, Orkney to name just a few. However, with so much going on last year, time spent fishing was much more local for me.

In November I did manage a few hours on a local small stillwater where I landed a new PB at 14lb! This stillwater rainbow succumbed to a small sub-surface buzzer fished on a steady figure of eight retrieve. She put up a great fight!

14lb Rainbow14lb Rainbow
14lb Rainbow

Spending time fishing more locally in 2022 and topping it off with a new PB was wonderful – sometimes it pays off just appreciating what’s on your doorstep. 

Here’s hoping I can find more time to spend on the bank in 2023!


Sam Edmonds, Sales Advisor

My favourite capture of 2022 was my first fish of the year, caught on New Year’s Day! On the fishing trips leading up to that day, my dad and I had experienced some of the best big perch fishing we've had on a midlands reservoir and, with a flat calm day forecast, the draw to go back and target them again was too tempting!

I must admit, getting up at 5.30am that morning was a bit of a struggle after staying up past midnight celebrating and seeing in the New Year in! It was a very frosty morning and, unsurprisingly, we were one of the only boats out on the lake. I'm guessing everyone else was hungover, or we were mad - probably a combination of both!

We had a game plan in mind for the day to cover the same areas that had produced my personal best perch of 4lb 13oz on my previous trip. The fishing was very difficult and, after six hours without a bite, trying various types of lures and areas of the reservoir, we were left scratching our heads what to do for the last hour before the boats had to be in at the harbour.

When the fishing is tough, especially when it's cold, a slight change in light levels can have a massive impact on the activity of the fish. It had been a very bright day, so we were confident that if we were to return to the area where we'd caught the fish on our previous trips, if the fish were still there, they'd switch on.

We returned to the area and half an hour passed without a touch. I'd tried a couple of different types of lures, but when in doubt, one of my favourite lures to try is a crankbait. I clipped on a deep diving model that would swim close to the bottom when I retrieved it. The wiggle of a crankbait is often attractive enough, but when it's tapping the bottom, it gives it an erratic action and, coupled with a rattle inside the lure, creates a lot of noise that I find wakes fish up when they're inactive.

With about 20 minutes to spare, I had a very subtle bite and was hooked into what felt like a very good perch. It came up to the boat and, once it was in the net, I realised that I perhaps wasn't mad heading out fishing on New Year’s Day! My first fish of the year was an enormous perch of 4lb 11oz, and it also turned out to be my biggest perch of 2022!

I'm looking forward to targeting more perch until the coarse fish close season begins on March 15th.

Sam Edmonds perch of 4lb 11ozSam Edmonds perch of 4lb 11oz
2023-01-23 14:44:00
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