Cyprinid Products on Tour

Farlows Lake ( Boyer Leisure Bash April 2008 ) by Bill Hopkins

  It was 3.00am Saturday 5 th April and the gang was beginning to turn up outside my front door. Ten of us were to take a trip down to Farlows Lake in Buckinghamshire for at least a three-night session in the hope of bagging a lump or two. Will, my youngest son was already with me, and Jason my eldest son and his friend Calvin had both turned up. It wasn’t too long before Gareth Jones and Darren Mann had arrived as well as Jim Minshall and his mate Luke. Phil and Andy Madeley (father & son) were to meet us down there early on the Sunday morning. We all sat in my carp room drinking tea and laughing and chatting for about half an hour before we set off on yet another ‘Cyprinid Products on tour trip’ down to the Colne Valley.  

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We arrived at the lake at 6.30am and eagerly waited outside the main gate to Heron’s point. When the gate was opened at 7.30 we parked up and took a good hours walk around the lake to see where we fancied. It wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be for a Saturday morning and the reservations I previously had of whether we would all get on the lake were quickly diminished.

I decided to set-up stall on the end of the knuckle arm with Will set-up next to me half way down. Gareth, Darren, Jason, Calvin, Jim and Luke all decided to bivvy up along the top end of smelly bank for the usual social and secondly because a few fish were showing in front of the islands and closer in the open water.

Within 10 minutes I had a phone call from Jason as I was still getting the bivvy set-up. ‘Dad, Gareth has just had a double’. What a result! Gareth always does that; before you ever have chance to get a bait near the water he always snatches a quick take from out of the blue. ‘Tell him I said well done’ and with that managed to erect the STI without any further interruptions.

The first night had passed away uneventfully for me and Will and the water in front of us seemed devoid of fish. A heavy snow shower out of the blue engulfed us and laid at least an inch of white carpet all around the lake.

I took a walk up to Will who was flat out on his bed-chair. He looked really rough, as he had been in the pub on herons point with Calvin for most of the night. I went back to my swim and no sooner than I had arrived when Phil and Andy turned up. I made Phil a brew and Andy and me sank an early morning Carlsberg. I gave them a rundown of the lake as they had never set eyes upon Farlows before and they then went to take a look around for somewhere to fish.

It was bloody cold this morning and when the snow had relented I decided to have a walk up to see the others.

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Darren's new personal best! 26lb 13oz

On arriving at Gareth’s bivvy I saw a commotion in the next swim. All the lads were there and were in the middle of photographing a new personal best fish for Darren. ‘How big’? I asked. They all turned around and said together ‘26lb13oz’. ‘What a result!’ I remarked as I looked down upon a brightly gleaming smile from Darren with his stunning common. ‘On the blackcurrant & garlic’ Darren chirped gleefully ‘just a single snowman topper’ he exclaimed.  
  Gareth had also had another two double’s in the night, Calvin had caught a 17lb common somehow as he looked as rough as Will and Jason had managed three doubles too. The fish were definitely in front of the boys and they were willing to have it! Funnily though Jim and Luke had moved into pads bay and so I took a walk round to see them. Phil and Andy were currently setting up on the factory bank as I wandered past and I spent a few minutes with Phil explaining what the score was in front of him with regards to the topography of the lake bed and where the pads are situated when they are up as they hadn’t yet emerged to the surface.  

I arrived in pads bay and walked into Jim and Luke’s swim on the far side. They had chosen to move into a double swim together and were currently getting their last rods into position. I carried on round and as I past the channel out of pads bay I noticed a massive fizz of bubbles from over where Jim had told me he had cast his first rod and baited up. I went back round to him to tell him but as I arrived in his swim his right hand rod absolutely blitzed off and he was into a chunk. Unfortunately Jim couldn’t stop the fish and it snagged him on the edge of the channel going out of the bay under an overhanging bush. The line parted and Jim was gutted. ‘Don’t worry’ I said, hopefully you will get another chance soon. With that I left and walked back round the lake and down towards the knuckle to see how Will was doing and to recast the rods.

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The morning was approaching dinnertime and had turned out to be quite pleasant now with the sun making the odd appearance through the broken cloud. I arrived into Will’s swim just as he was heaving into a fish that he had hooked from behind us in the little reedy bay. Will had seen some small fish knocking the reeds and had decided to go for it with one rod and had obviously tripped one up. A short time later will had beaten the small mirror from out of the reeds and had it in open water. I readied the net and in it went first time. ‘Well done will’ I said and quickly took a photograph of his first farlows carp. Although only a small fish Will was dead chuffed with its appearance.

Will's first Farlows Carp


  By mid afternoon I still hadn’t seen a fish in front of us and mentioned to will that if nothing happened this night I would be up for a move first thing in the morning. A few small fish kept will intrigued in the bay behind. They were swimming tight in the reeds and will was trying his hardest to tempt one out and on to his hook, but unfortunately to no avail and he was getting hungry and ready for one of my speciality curries. An hour later I began readying the pan for the feast of a lifetime when will stuck his head in my bivvy and said he was moving. Apparently he had reeled in and been for a quick stroll up to the others and there were quite a few fish showing up the top end of the lake in a swim he fancied. Within the next half-hour he had shifted everything and gone.  

I was now on my own with a huge curry that needed devouring, even though I now had two portions all to myself. The pan was just put on the Coleman when the mobile rang. ‘Dad! Its bloody massive’ Jason bellowed down my ear. ‘What is?’ I asked hurriedly. ‘Darren has caught a right chunk, a mirror 36lb 9oz’ came the reply. Darren must have been over the moon with that one, his first time on the lake too. I told Jason to get some good photos of the fish and to say well done to Darren for me. What a result for Darren! First a personal best common and now a 36+, a fantastic achievement for sure. The Cyprinid boys were certainly having some fun up there I thought looking across at the seemingly fishless water in front of me.

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Darren with "the prettyone" at 36lb 9oz

  Darkness soon fell and I didn’t feel happy at all. Nothing had shown either to the left over my baited spot under the overhanging willow that is normally a productive area for a few fish, or over by the islands in front. In fact the only thing I had seen all day was a rogue pike of what looked like quite a good size snapping away at anything that moved close enough to its snout.  

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20lb 4oz for Phil

It was now about 9.00pm and almost pitch black, for sure I was about to do a mad one and move. I just couldn’t help myself and I knew I would get in somewhere between Jason and the others if turned up in the dark and bent a few ears. I was in the middle of packing everything away trying not to lose anything when the mobile rang. It was Phil over on the factory bank. ’How’s it going’ he asked. ‘Shit’ I replied ‘I’m moving’. Phil started laughing and filled me in that he had caught a fully scaled mirror of 20.04 and more importantly that his dad Andy had fallen in the lake whilst casting out. What a result! A fully scaled and a quick dip all in one hit. I chuckled to myself and proceeded to move the mountain of gear in four trips to the truck.

One mobile phone charger less and I was loaded up. It had gone astray somewhere in the bushes on one of the hauls but I was thankful that it was only the charger and not something of much more importance such as the bottle of port I was looking forward to opening for the celebration of Darren’s two fish.

I drove along the track with the lights off using just my head torch out of the window so as not to disturb anyone with the main headlights and soon passed Gareth’s and Darren’s swims. I pulled up just passed where Calvin and Jason were doubled up where there was an empty swim just before where Will was now situated further up. Engine off and everyone who was set-up along that stretch of the bank came over.

Jason thrust a can of some rough beer into my hand. ‘I knew it wouldn’t be long before you turned up’ he said with a big grin on his face. ‘Get them rods out dad, but just don’t get hooking one left in front of me’. I told him quickly that I would do just what I wanted as I dragged the rods and my hook-bait bag out of the truck. Two singles went out somewhere in the night and the third was a PVA bag of pellets that followed not far behind. I elected to not set the bivvy up and to sleep in the truck for the night.


Gareth informed me that he had caught a 24lb 8oz mirror earlier on a single cranberry & Garlic ‘snowman topper’ just whacked out at range. We all had a good laugh and a bit of banter between us and shared more than a few beers to celebrate Darren’s earlier result. This trip was certainly going to be one to remember for the boys.

I was hoping to grab a little piece of the action from my new swim although there were quite a few lines out there now with us all fishing three rods in the same sort of area out towards the islands. I would have to settle for the rods just being whacked out for the night, although I really wanted to have these fish seeing some bait. But that would have to wait until the morning when I could get the marker out and find a few decent spots. I just prayed that the fish stayed in front of us in numbers, as there were obviously a few out there to be had

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Gareth was more than pleased with this 24lb 8oz mirror


  Jason and me were quietly having a beer together after everyone else had turned in. The night was overcast and the wind was gently pushing across us from left to right. I had just remarked to Jason that I felt something would happen soon when out of the blue one of his rods ripped off. He played a hard fighting mirror for just over ten minutes in the dark and at the first chance I had it engulfed in mesh. 23lbs exactly it went on the scales and I was dead chuffed for him. After photographing the fish we sank one or two more of the rather rough beers together but before too long we both turned in for some much needed sleep.  

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Jason's 23 lb mirror


Tap, tap, tap, sounded on the window of the truck and I turned to see Phil outside with a rather strange looking cigarette in his gob. It was just before 7.00am. ‘Any luck Phil?’ I asked. He told me he had lost one in the night and his dad Andy had also lost one at the net too. I was gutted for them both. I was glad Phil had arrived this early though and had woken me as I wanted to get myself into gear for the day and it was just getting light enough for a mark around to find some spots and apply a bit of bait.

All the rods were wound in and out went the marker. I decided to fish one rod to one of the islands under an overhanging bush on the right-hand side with a single snowman topper hook-bait and the other two rods over a bed of bait at 80yards range. About 2 kilos of the ‘warlock’ fishmeal freebies flavoured with Mulberry Florentine and N-butyric acid went out to the mark and I felt much happier for the day ahead. Darren appeared whilst I was finishing baiting up and said that he had caught a small fish in the night but nothing had happened for Gareth.


The morning was pretty much uneventful and it was certainly apparent that there was less fish movement in front of us compared to what the lads had seen the day before. It was just going to be a waiting game for us all this day and hopefully the afternoon would prove more fruitful.



20lb 14oz, absolutely stunning

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It was my last full day on the lake as I had to be leaving first thing in the morning and it was a growing concern that we were seeing very little, however I was confident the baited area may trip something up. The afternoon turned into late afternoon without a twitch and I was beginning to wonder if a chance would come my way at all when all of a sudden my middle rod howled off and I was attached to something that had fallen to one of my baited rods. A good scrap was had for about ten minutes before Jason had it in the net. Darren and Gareth had heard the commotion and called round just in time to see me photograph a 20lb 14oz common. ‘Result!’ they both exclaimed. It was good to see a fish today as nothing else was really happening anywhere. The fish was soon returned and although not a whacker, I was well chuffed for a bit of action. Night time soon fell and was very quiet indeed with Darren the only one to catch. I had netted a small double figure common for him not long after dark, which was returned straight away.


The next morning Will and me packed up early to begin the long journey home. Gareth and Darren were soon for the off as well as were Phil and Andy. Jason and Calvin and Jim and Luke were to stay for another night as they fancied their chances and we left them to it and were soon on long drive back to Shropshire.


Later on that night Jason gave me a ring and said that he had caught a 22lb 4oz common and was over the moon with the result. The fish were definitely showing further over by the other side of the islands according to him though and he was sure some had moved down the lake further past heron point. I told him I was dead chuffed for him and the next day saw him turn up at my place with a few photos of the fish.

It was a great blast to have a bit of fun with the boys once again and I don’t think it will be too long before we all get back down there for another Farlows tour.


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Another lovely fish for Jason 22lb 4oz