Matthew Schade from Hunting-Tips.Net makes a return visit to a lake complex where the standards being set are second to none.
Making a return visit to a fi shery after a very long gap is quite an event and something I very much look forward to. It’s late May and although my memory of Coltsford Mill Trout Fishery in Surrey was that of a very pretty location I’m truly surprised to see the enormous upgrade which has so improved it. Immaculate isn’t a fi tting-enough description.
The 12-acre estate with its two trout lakes – Willow and Mill – and the Cascade pools is very clearly a source of immense pride to the Moore family.
The layout and maintenance of the fi shery complements the venue, which is the setting for prestigious weddings, corporate events and many other functions. So what’s diff erent from my last visit?
Well, for starters the fishery now boasts a great tackle shop, and every part of the site from lakes to grass to buildings to flower beds is so beautifully kept that even the most fastidious angler would feel very comfortable.
We often talk of good facilities and clean toilets and here the standard is in keeping with the very best. We first catch up with Paul, who is busy laying out bedding plants, and he quickly reacquaints me with the layout of the lakes before we then meet up with fishery manager Neil in the shop. I’m also delighted to meet Peter McManus, one of the regular members at Coltsford.
Busy social calendar Coltsford Mill has a very strong membership bias but is also open to day tickets, providing you check in fi rst by phone. Lots of social events plus special members’ days ensures a busy calendar so do be sure you plan ahead. But what of the fishery itself?
I remember the Cascade pools as being quite narrow, but they have now been made into separate little ponds all of their own and feature some of those magnificent gunner a plants, which grow so well down here in Surrey.
The Willow Lake has recently been desilted and also now boasts a dedicated anglers' building, although the main bar and club room are also open to members.
I remember the wooded, far bank of Willow was the perfect place for trout to cruise around, largely out of reach while they cropped off bugs and beasties that fell from the shrubbery. It's in the left corner that the cool water of the River Eden comes in.
We start off here because I can see fish rising and also cruising just subsurface. Although this isn't a clear water fishery, in good light it's often possible to see fish if they are up and feeding. It isn't long before we find action for photographer Peter Gather cole's camera and with an impending huge gak on the way we are glad the fish are most definitely in the mood. With a super four-pounder in the net it's time to have a look at Mill Lake.
TACTICS AND STOCKING
I USED a 6wt rod and floating Une with a 12•foot leader tapered down to Sib fluorocarbon. although many anglers here use a sinking line in the deeper Willow Lake.
I stuck to a single fly with a rimfire scope but It's okay to fish a team of threeif you really want to get onwith the job and increase the odds. I would guess that a clear intermediate Is a very useful option at times and I was assured that evenings of ten bring excellent rises when its back to the floater and a dry Sedge.
With a very clear Intention that you have a better than evenschance of catching, the lakes and Cascadesare stocked witha minimum fish size of 2lb-plus and there's an excellent chance of a truly large fish.
The trout come from a top class Exmoor supplier and the rainbows we saw on this al•oo•brief visit were in superb condition and gave excellent fights. Some trophy browns go in too and with 'on site holding facilities the fish can be further grown on and trickle stocked to daily manage the fishing expectations. Checkout the catch return book and it'sobvious that there's no shortage of 31b•plus fish.
Fun with an old favourite
Bigger than Willow, Mill Lake has the mightily impressive overflow chamber, which feeds to the ancient waterwheel of the old mill buildings.
Neil tells me that this lake is next on the list for desilting and upgrading with the removal of coarse fish and routine maintenance, although it looks just fine to me with rising fish in the freshening wind. I can’t resist putting out a dry Mayfly and then one of those interesting moments brings a tactical change.
What happened was that the fly got swamped and as I stripped back to recast it was strongly chased by a fish. A few more casts doing the same thing, sinking the fly and stripping back, convince me to switch to a pattern that was a favourite 20 years ago. Hidden in one of my fly boxes is a Muddler Minnow, that cleverly constructed fly that is intended to represent a small, bottom-dwelling fish. It’s fun to fish this fly on breezy days and it works well with a strip-style retrieve, a steady figure-ofei ht or ust about anythin you like! I uess that the fish just like the fuss and vibration it causes when it is moving through the water and can’t resist coming to have a look. I won’t say that you’ll get hook-ups from every fish that shows interest but it sure is an exciting way to fish and will often bring up a big one to come and look at what’s going on.
Swirling action on the Cascade
We enjoy some action here and then Peter Gathercole suggests we visit the Cascade pools for some pictures, because the weather’s looking ever more threatening. With a £300 repair bill to classy Nikons from our last, wet feature day I can understand his reluctance for another soaking!
We meet up again with Peter McManus who’s just off home and he drops the hint that the lower pool had given him a couple of nice fish to a Montana Nymph. Oddly, that’s one fly I rarely carry but the Muddler, nicely wetted and fished subsurface, brings some swirling attacks and another fish to round off my fishing.
That’s because a certain cameraman wants to try my Hardy Zenith rod and promptly puts the Muddler tight up against the bushes on the far side of Willow Lake. Okay, he sure can cast but I like to think that rod helped and it isn’t long before we watch a fish chase the fly and make the mistake to nicely finish off the visit.
Would I go again? Emphatically yes. Will I leave it so long this time? Most certainly not. This is one classy fishery with very high standards.