Location: From Guildford take the A281 towards Horsham. Then after about 12 miles look out for the Rikkyo School on the right. After the school take the first turning on the left. Follow the lane to the end and turn left. The fishery is about 150 yards on the left and signposted Hazel Copse. Follow the track to the car park and lakes.
Address: Hazel Copse Trout Fishery, Banyards Lane, Rudgwick, Surrey, RH12 3AF
Contact: Just ask for Wilf.
Phone number 01403 822878
Fishery size: 3.5 acres made up of two well featured lakes of 2.25 and 1.25 acres. Maximum depth 14ft in the top lake. Water is relatively clear.
Season: Open all year.
Fishery records: Salmon 341b 12oz, rainbow trout 271b 14oz, brown trout 181b, golden trout 81b, Blue trout 61b.
Hazel Copse has a block salmon license. All you need is an ordinary Environmental Agency license.
Stocking: Regularly with various species when in season. Both salmon and brown trout are only stocked when they are in season.
Tuition: By arrangement
Corporate days: On application from Wilf. Barbecues can also be arranged for matches or group days out, again contact Wilf for further details.
Other facilities; W.C. and lodge with cooking facilities.
Note: The fishery is less than 20 miles from Gatwick Airport. Visitors from America have travelled to the fishery and caught salmon.
Tickets: Although stocked with salmon, rainbows and brown trout, the day ticket prices are very reasonable. The prices also include the block salmon licence.
Full day four fish limit £24 - Full day three fish limit £17 - Full day two fish limit £14 - Full day one fish limit £12
Catch and release is practised after daily limit is reached. However you must take your limit before starting catch and release.
Comment: This is a very friendly fishery that has shown many pioneering initiatives. It was one of the first fisheries to practice catch and release. The fishery was a pioneer in introducing salmon into still waters, opening up salmon fishing for everybody at a sensible price.
A Days Fishing at Hazel Copse
This part could easily have been given the title of "My best days fly fishing". However, in the morning as I travelled down to Hazel Copse, it appeared that my luck had really run out. As Virginia and I left our home in Ashford it was raining heavily but by the time we had reached Guildford it started to turn to snow. Further down the A281 the snow became heavier and was settling. Oncoming traffic was often thickly coated in snow. Fortunately by the time we reached Hazel Copse the snow had melted but it was very cold. Certainly not ideal conditions for fly fishing.
When we arrived Wilf and Monica invited us in to their bungalow for a warm up and cup of tea. Wilf gave me all the details that I needed for the first part of this feature. He then talked about his salmon and how they had at times been taken on dry flies in warmer weather. Evidentially march browns and black gnats have accounted for more than their fair share of salmon. The salmon had also been observed feeding on frogs and newts.
Wilf explained that there are closed seasons for both salmon and brown trout. He only stocks with these species when they are in season, consequently he had not been stocked recently with brown trout as they had been out of season. However when properly in season, he stocks with some very big brown trout. These, although often clearly visible, can be difficult to catch presenting a real challenge to his customers.
Virginia and I left to start fishing. It was still very cold. We walked round the fishery to select a spot in deep water on the larger rear lake. Wilf had told me that there was 14ft of water in this spot. As there could be salmon in this deep water, I set up with a 9ft AFTM 7 fly rod with a WF7 fast sinking line. My leader was maxima ultra green 81b whilst my fly was a damsel nymph that had been specially tied on a size 10 low water salmon iron by Lee Kitchen.
Once I had found how long it took for my fly to reach the bottom, I started to fish tweaking the fly slowly across the bottom. Nothing happened for the first quarter of an hour but I could see big fish moving in the corner of the first lake. Then I had a smash take and my heart nearly stopped with the excitement, as for a moment I thought that I had hit a salmon but, no such luck. It was a hard fighting three pound plus rainbow that had taken deep down.
I kept seeing signs of big fish moving on the first lake. I could no longer resist the challenge and moved down to the corner where all the disturbance was being created. There was no doubt about it they were salmon. The lake was much shallower so I changed over to an intermediate line of the same rating with the same strength leader and fly. I covered the fish but could not get a pull until I made a cast that landed just a few inches away from a cruising fish. As I pulled, it took immediately and powered off. This was no light weight rainbow and I could clearly see it was a big salmon as it cleared the water. The terrific power of the fish could not be described in words. I ran down the bank trying to keep up with it. However, as my wife constantly reminds me, I am overweight, not in the best physical condition and could not keep pace with the fish which had stripped off the full fly line leaving me playing it on the backing. Thankfully, it ran parallel with the bank and, running as fast as I could, I eventually gained line leaving out about 25 yards. I ran backwards and forwards for the next half an hour as the fished tore up and down the bank. I kept constant pressure on the fish and used every bit of playing skill that I had acquired from over 40 years angling experience to tire out the fish. Let's face it, an A.F.T.M. 7 fly rod is more of a casting tool than something for exerting pressure on a big fish. At the time, I would loved to have had a 2.51b test curve carp rod in my hand, that way I could have really applied some pressure but now was not the time to have such impure thoughts. After over half an hour, I could feel the fish tiring but that still did not stop it clearing the water several more times before it was eventually landed.
I did not have the heart to kill the fish. Instead, I left it in the jumbo landing net to revive, which it did surprisingly quickly. I had bought my big carp weighing sling and scales which meant the fish was quickly weighed, photographed and returned. It swam off in less than five minutes to give some other angler the thrill of his life. The weight? 281b 12oz. I was very pleased.
After a cup of tea with Wilf, I returned to fish on using the same tactics. Although I could see the odd salmon out there, I could not get a take. I fished on for another hour and was just about to change fly when I saw a salmon coming straight at me following my fly. I gave it one great pull and the salmon flew at the fly! It was on, and again no light weight. This time I put on maximum pressure from the start but still it put up a terrific fight. This fish was a real acrobat and spent a lot of time out of the water. At one stage it tried to smash me up by going directly between two islands in the middle but I managed using side-strain to turn the heavyweight fish before it reached the islands. Again, constant pressure over a long period of time had the desired effect and the fish tired. As I netted this second salmon, I realised that it was again over twenty pounds. It was given the same treatment as the first. It went 221b 8oz and again swam off to give another lucky angler a chance.
I did not have another take for about an hour and that turned out to be another nice rainbow. Over the next hour I constantly caught rainbows. Obviously I needed a change and moved to the opposite corner of the lake as I had seen some big fish activity in the area. I tried that spot to continue to catch a few more nice rainbows. I saw one of the rainbows move in front of a salmon that was chasing the fly - to take the damsel nymph! Naturally I continued to fish the spot. About three quarters of an hour later, a salmon hit the fly. This was a much smaller fish but still gave a good account of itself. It was only 6.51b.
Wilf then turned up and said that it was about time that I actually killed a fish. He thought that the fish would be absolutely ideal for Virginia and I to eat. It sounded sensible to me, so this fish was dispatched and kept. It did in fact eat exceptionally well.
We fished on, catching and releasing several more rainbows until it was time to leave, we had really enjoyed the day.
Conclusion: This is a terrific fishery offering quality fishing at affordable prices. It is the best chance for ordinary people like myself to catch a salmon at a sensible price. Not all can afford a top beat on a Scottish river when the fish are running.
I know the purist will argue that these are farm fish and not fresh run salmon but what do you expect for £24 a day. To me that is terrific value. I believe that this fishery is doing a real service to all anglers and not just the rich few.
Well done, Wllf and Monica, we will be back!