|The Thames at Romney Weir.|
THE fishing rights on the Meadow and Island stretches of this lovely section of the River Thames, overlooked by Windsor Castle, have been controlled by Old Windsor AC for nearly 45 years.
At the upstream point of an island, the river splits into two. On the left-hand arm there is a non-navigable weir 50 yards downstream, where there’s little chance of boat traffic spoiling your session.
The Meadow swims are located along the other arm, where the pleasure boats have to travel via a lock to pass down the water.
This part of the Thames suffers greatly from boat traffic during summer months, so Meadow generally comes into its own after autumn and into winter as the lock ‘cut’ becomes a haven for the river’s many species, especially during times of autumn and winter floods.
The Island area contains about 35 fishable pegs shrouded with trees, which make for some secluded and cooling swims during the heat of summer. The river here narrows from 60 metres at the weir to around 40 metres downstream to Peg 47. The best and more popular swims on this stretch are between Peg 28 and Peg 40.
Depths vary along the course of the arm, with some pegs running to nine feet but most average around four to six feet, with the odd wading peg.
The swims on the Island and Meadow stretches hold shoals of bleak, gudgeon, roach, dace and chub, along with the odd large pike loitering in the ‘slacks’. The area is also home to barbel, with the Island swims being favourite haunts for specialist anglers due to increased flows running down from the weir.
The best-recorded fish of this species from this part of the river was a lump over 10lb last season.
The venue’s bream are caught mainly from the Meadows but, when it opens from November 1st, the lock cut also produces some excellent bags. This is especially the case when plenty of water hammers over the weir and down the Island channel, producing specimens to over 6lb.
The river here is full of natural food, which probably explains why the chub population thrives so well, growing to weights in excess of 7lb. Carp have even been known to put in an appearance, but they are extremely elusive during daylight hours.
With a wide variety of deep glides and fast, boiling shallows to keep the river angler guessing, a choice of methods can be employed. The maggot feeder is a popular option, as it can be fished on any peg. A classic stick-float set-up should score well in all the moving pegs.
Long-pole tactics can be a little hit or miss at times, so I would suggest that this method is best used in the Meadows and cut when flood water fills the area and slows the flow right down.
Another hot method for mild winter days is a groundbait feeder attack, fished along with worm or red maggots for bream. The most popular baits for this stretch of river are the ever-faithful maggots, casters and hemp and luncheon meat for the bigger residents.
Bread tends to come into its own during winter months, when chub and roach are the main target species.
One particular feature of the Island is the inclusion of a purpose-built disabled platform, which accommodates up to three anglers and their helpers and is superbly constructed.
The venue does not hold any open matches, but it is available for club bookings. Access is very good from the BR Windsor and Eton Riverside car park, which will set you back £3 for the whole day. There’s a slight walk involved, down a narrow lane to the boatyard and the lock, where you can cross over to the island.
You can also park for free at weekends in the Home Park Sports Field car parks, but you will have to cross the rail tracks via the bridge, some 150 metres downRomney Lock Road
, to get onto the boatyard lane.
Special arrangements are available for disabled drivers but you’ll need to contact the Windsor club’s Alan Beaven 01628 602537 first for details.
“I like to fish this stretch
of the river because it’s a
lovely and peaceful part
of the Thames.”
Frank Peck, Windsor club member.
Venue Fact File
River Thames, Romney Island and Meadow Stretch, Windsor, Berkshire
Contact: Alan Beaven on 01628 602537
Day tickets: Permits are available on bank and cost £5 per day. A yearly membership is available at £35. Permits are £18 for ladies, juniors, OAPs and disabled anglers
Matches: No open matches are held on the venue, but club bookings are welcome
Restrictions: There is no fishing allowed in the boatyard, and strictly no parking allowed in the boatyard or lane leading to it
Facilities: There is disabled access and a platform suitable for wheelchair users. Parking is available in the station car park or down Romney Lock Road
Nearby tackle shop: Windsor Angling Centre, tel: 01753 867210
Nearby pub: The Slug and Lettuce, 3-4 Thames Street, Windsor, Berkshire, tel: 01753 864405
How to get there: From Datchet, follow the B470 toward Windsor and take the right-hand turn into either Romney Lock Road or the railway station after Home Park. The Windsor and Eton Riverside Railway Station is directly opposite Windsor Castle