Surrey does not have many rivers, and has few trout streams!
You may know of the Mole (a notable coarse fishing river), the Wey (ditto, but stocked with browns in parts, and including by Peper Harrow FFC), but you may not have heard of the Cranleigh Water, nor also –
September 2012 – the Tillingbourne
This glorious little tributary of the Wey, rises near Coldharbour and flows gently through copse after wood after copse. It picks up water from another, tinier stream which rises in the delightfully named, Friday Street, and passes through idyllic villages with evocative names like Abinger Hammer,and Gomshall. Here it irrigates meadows of water cress, before gliding by the cricket ground where families picnic, and children paddle in its alluring shallows alongside the flocks of resident duck and migratory geese. Then onto Shere, where it is hidden, protected behind the fences of impressive country seats of its wealthy residents, before revealing itself once more as it meanders into the manicured delight, which is the village of Albury. (home for Peter Cockwill’s bountiful fishing shop!)
Albury is the Surrey estate of the Duke of Northumberland. His estate team ‘manages’ the Tillingbourne, and via diversions or by damming they have created three trout lakes for still water preferrers which are stocked with rainbows. Earlier stocking of parts of the river have produced a head of resident browns, and these and some stocked rainbows are in the river at Albury.
I fished the beat running from Vale End lake,
and here the river is very narrow, and rarely more than ten feet wide, and less when Summer grasses impede.
Tree lined, but with banks mowed in places to aid access, the many alders demand complete concentration when casting. The stream is shallow and flows over sand, and weed growth is sparse. The bends produce fish holding pockets, as do the holes below tactically positioned rocks and logs.
And in one of these I encountered my first fish, which sipped in my weighted PTN. When realising he was hooked he took off, and with only one escape route open, he rushed headlong past me downstream, and my light tackle could not hold him, and my leader snapped at the tippet knot. I forgot just how powerful and aggressive rainbows are when compared with their spotted friends, and my 4 weight outfit was inadequate. Another took a PTN from a hole below an alder, but he was lost, too.
The fishing offers the day ticket purchaser the opportunity to return if the number of fish one applies to take, are not. It is a very pretty fishery, and only 30 minutes from my home, so I will return!