With a few fish-tickets to use up before season’s end, I pulled into the car-park at Weston in glorious September sunshine. Circling the Millhouse Lake where a man was fishing with his young son, I made for the River Tillingbourne. I’d hooked – but not landed – wild trout in this stretch before. I dangled a nymph into the tiny stream. Upstream I noticed the bored youngster was now jabbing his father’s landing net into the water. That was the end of my stream fishing.

I moved to the western end of Mill Lake where I had spotted a congregation of fish near the surface. I couldn’t interest them with any fly. I chose another spot and cast ‘blind’ into the lake with a sinking daddy long legs pattern. A 2lb rainbow took it on the drop.

One ticket down. I returned to my vehicle and drove the short distance to Vale End.

Vale End

Vale End has two lakes and a further stretch of the Tillingbourne. Belmont Lake was being drained a pump sending the water into the Mill Lake, raising its level. I briefly tried again for the wild fish in the river, before dangling a nymph into the fast water where the Mill Lake exits into a large pool in the river. I’ve had a few fish here before. A surprise roach once. This spot didn’t disappoint today and I hooked into a rainbow.

Before departing, I took another look at the section of the river alongside the draining Belmont lake. A couple of fisherman were already trying their luck. I didn’t want to fish ahead of them, so I restricted myself to a short section downstream of them. In the raised water levels I could see a few chunky rainbows. I was looking for wild brown trout, but was surprised that these stocked fish took absolutely no notice of my hare’s ear and other natural imitations. As a bit of a joke, I tied on my most unnatural fly: a shocking orange blob. At short range, with no weight of an intermediate line to drag it down, this lure stuck in the film of the water’s surface. The larger rainbows were similarly uninterested, but out of nowhere a small fish rose and nailed the blob. A wild brown trout taking this offering? Who’d have thought?


It wasn’t a wild brown trout. Once on the bank, it was clearly a small rainbow trout. This is a very different fish to the usual 2lb stocked fish I expected to encounter. Does the fishery now stock small rainbows into the river to grown them on? a migrant from another fishery? an escape from a hatchery? or maybe even a wild rainbow?A bit of a headscratcher.

Total Catch:

  • 3 Rainbow Trout (Dunking Daddy Flexi Black x1, Hare’s Ear Bug (Goddard) x 1, Blob Leaded Orange x 1)