I was trying my luck in the diminutive River Tillingbourne, when the bailiff rolled up in his pickup truck. “Too early” he suggested; both in terms of the time of year and time of day. This little stretch of stream had also had a lot of angling pressure lately. The previous day had seen four fishermen lined up in a stretch barely 100 yards long. Whatever the reason, my little bead-headed nymph couldn’t attract any wild brown trout today.  I saw just one fish dart away at my approach; the early season bankside foliage providing next to no cover.

River Tillingbourne at Weston
River Tillingbourne at Weston

I turned my attention to the Millhouse Lake behind me. In the tap-water clear lake I could see several ‘blue’ rainbow trout swimming close to the surface and feeding strongly. I’m not really a fan of such ‘ornamental’ varieties of fish, but it really does help you spot them in the water. I selected a #12 Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear and cast towards the mobile fish. It provoked a little interest, but all the fish would shy away at the last minute. The fish seemed more interested as the nymph fell; movement put them off. A fellow fisherman – who’d just landed a good rainbow himself on an emerger pattern – wandered over. He ventured that it might be my leader putting them off. I degreased it, and persisted with the GRHE. Sure enough, it wasn’t too long before there was a take on the drop. A 3lb-er put up a good fight – going airborne three times – before coming to my net.

Rainbow Trout. 3lb taken on GRHE#12 at Mill Lake, Weston
Rainbow Trout. 3lb taken on GRHE#12 at Mill Lake, Weston

Vale End

I drove short distance through village of Albury, to the second of the Estate’s day-ticket waters. Vale End has two lakes and a further stretch of the Tillingbourne. I tried again for the wild fish in the river. And probably failed for much the same reason as at Weston. I spoke to one guy trying with a nymph in the river beside Belmont Lake. He was similarly unsuccessful. Due to the lack of bank-side vegetation the stocked fish had all retreated back into the lakes, he speculated.

A departing fisherman, who’d had a good day, directed me to a honeypot of fish activity on the Belmont Lake. To the sound of pheasants and a drilling woodpecker, I must have had takes from half a dozen fish without landing one. I was using a small, gold-bead headed GRHE. Upping the hook size might have been a better idea.*

I made one last attempt at catching in the river pool at the outflow of Mill Lake. A 2lb rainbow resulted.

* As I write this, a more prosaic reason comes to mind: a blunt hook. The repeated snagging whilst nymphing had blunted the hook’s point. I read about one fly fisherman who always checks the sharpness of his hooks before tying them to the tippet with the following method: he runs the hook point over a fingernail. If it digs in, he uses the fly; if not, he discards it. I compared the GRHE I was using against one fresh from the box. Sure enough, the used fly skittered across my nail; the new one stuck. A great tip.

Total Catch:

  • 2 Rainbow Trout (Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear x 1, Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear (Tungsten Bead) x 1)