Sunday 18 February 2024

Windmill Fishery Open



 I was working in Ireland all week and was a bit tired after travelling from Dublin to Galway, Cork and back to Dublin. But I was itching to get back on the bank, though of course the river was once again out of the question being in flood. I dropped a text to Dave Haines and booked in for the Windmill open, this was about 2pm on Saturday. After asking a couple of regular anglers for tips it seemed I really needed a pint of maggots, so nipped off  to Premier Angling where you always get a warm welcome from Tony Rixon.

The forecast was for heavy rain Saturday evening/ night, and they weren’t wrong, the river is back in the fields again. Still I was happy to see it was dry when I loaded the van. It was very mild out and I was removing layers as I tucked into my Wetherspoons breakfast. I took a very slow journey down the fishery track as I didn’t want to hit the potholes hard, arriving in good time paid my pools and the draw was done early. Hoping for a peg at either end of the lake was a waste of time as I drew peg 7 in the middle of the two islands. Last time I fished here was November and then I had peg 6 and DNW.

This peg has an island chuck to some reeds, and the reeds were knocking showing signs of carp. A lead rod for fishing corn was assembled for here. I set up two pole lines at 13m one for corn and one for maggot to cover my options, a 4x16 F1 pellet float with 16 GPM to 0.13. A very similar rig but with 4x14 for fishing meat at top set plus three sections. No silvers rigs as I was told my best chance was with carp. On peg 6 Tom Baker was going down the carp route, but on peg 9 Bill Knight was edging his bets.

We started fishing at 10:15 and it was a 6 hour match today. I fed my long pole lines but started on the lead. Thirty minutes later and not a liner, so thought let’s try the pole. Not a touch on the corn line, but on the maggot I had a few small roach and a perch, but none of the hoped for carp. I upped the maggot feed which fed the silvers off and drew no carp lol. Back on the lead and still nothing, I cast as close as I dare to the reeds by taking line off the clip. 2 1/2 hours in and I had a liner on the tip, but still no bite. Tom had 2 skimmers and had lost one fouled carp on meat, Bill had maybe 2lb of silvers but was abandoning them.

At 1pm, nearly halfway through the match, I decided to go for the silvers just to get some bites. I got a 4x14 rig out with 18 to 0.10 that had spread stotts down the line. Fishing at top set plus two sections and feeding maggots I had a nice little run of small roach and 1 Rudd for 30 minutes. Then bites got less and the fish tiny. I went out over my 13m maggot line and struggled for more small roach but at least I was catching something! Tom was now getting a few carp on meat and that made me keep at the silvers.

I started feeding the long line heavier by catapult as I really wanted to get some skimmers, but to begin with it wasn’t good. An hour and 15 mins left and I tried the corn pole line again for a skimmer. Did get a bite but it was my first carp, so I knocked the corn on the head. The last hour then improved a lot as more roach and a few Rudd showed on both maggot lines, swapping between them was important as was changing depth and feeding. End of the match and I hoped I might have 8lb. Leighton Palmer was walking the bank and said that I might have enough to win the silvers, and as it turned out he was right. 


My net went 7lb 13oz, not bad for just over 3 hours fishing for the silvers. Nick Coles got second in silvers with 5lb 13oz, he had a a 2lb skimmer and small roach.

The match was won by pre match favourite Paul Staite on peg 14 with 119lb 2oz of carp mainly on pellet short. Fair play to Tom Baker coming second with 76lb on peg 6, top performance. Up on peg 2 Alan Oram got third place with 52lb 7oz.

Nice to get out and get a pick up again, feels like it’s been a while. Got to say the weather today was nice bar one shower, but this winters rain has done my nut in!

Just one last thing to say, and that’s RIP Steve Stretch Saunders who passed away after his battle with cancer. Steve was always someone who spoke his mind and I got on well with him. We had similar passion for football and we shared a bit of banter. He’s definitely going to be missed by many people.



Sunday 28 January 2024

Chub hunt - Epic fail!



 I’ve been wanting to get back onto the river for ages, and finally I thought the level was ok to give it a go. I fancied a go for some chub which I hoped would be hungry after all the floods. I didn’t need to any preparation other than to pick up some maggots on Friday. Saturday I was busy watching Rovers, got to see a decent game and good result.

A leisurely start Sunday, and I parked up at 10:30. Carting my gear through the kissing gate I was then loading the trolley and realised I’d left my bag with reels and feeders in the shed (hope this doesn’t become a habit again 🙈😂).  I really didn’t want to carry everything back to the van and drive home, so I rang Wendy and told her my predicament. She very kindly said she would drop the bag down to me and said I should double check if I’d forgotten anything else, I hadn’t. Ten to fifteen minutes later Wendy arrived and I could finally get going. The walk along the footpath was nice and easy, and I didn’t have to worry about the next kissing gate as there’s no fence on one side of it.

I stopped at peg 15 which is a peg I’ve always caught chub from. However, it’s got some overgrown willows that reduce your options. I had thought about fishing a big stick float or bolo, but decided the river was too fast. Instead I set up a maggot feeder to underarm cast out about a third of the way across. I needed 40g to hold here and a decent bow. A 16 XSH to 0.17 powerline was tied up for the hook length.


I was fishing by 11:30, and just before midday I had a bite but didn’t feel a fish, but the hook bait was gone. It took me until 12:50 to get another bite, no chub but a small roach that saved the blank. Not long after this Mark Jefferies came along walking his dog and in the next 40 mins I had two more bites but the bait was never touched hmmm. Just as Mark came past again and we were chatting, he told me I had a bite and I turned around and lifted the rod. Again it was a roach but probably 6oz. Mark went on his way and I had another big drop back bite and no fish and bait untouched again. 

Nothing more happened, so I decided to move down to peg 17. Awkward to cast in because of more willow branches, but casting like a noddy allowed me to get 3/4 over, needed 60g and a very big bow to hold bottom. Well the move was not to prove successful as I never had a single bite. A couple of anglers came along and I told them that I had struggled. They were roving anglers and said the last 2 hours before sunset is when they fish for chub. They headed off further downstream and I wished them luck. I was feeling a bit cold and decided I was not going to stay any longer, probably leaving a chub behind then.

Well that’s a shocker, and just goes to prove there’s no such thing as a banker peg. Got to try again!

In other news Derek Coles had a bumper day up at Newbridge with 24 bream, the biggest estimated at 11lb as it bottomed the scales out that someone had. Wow.




Sunday 21 January 2024

What’s going on…

 At my last outing at Hillview I had an irritating cough, unfortunately that just got worse and with a lack of sleep I felt quite low on energy. I had to work from home, cancelled going to the gym and didn’t really do anything at the weekend. Even now the cough is still lingering, but I don’t feel rough, although my wife has not got a heavy cold.  With the very cold weather and everything being frozen, and the forecast of nasty wind and rain for Sunday I put fishing on the back burner again. I’ve said before I don’t mind not going fishing this time of year, I’d rather not risk it. Spent some of Sunday afternoon watching BigJetTV on YouTube, watching those big planes landing in the wind at Heathrow 😬😬😬.

Right, not done an old diary blog for ages, I’m back to January 2004, just 20 years ago then lol.

Had a day pleasure fishing on the 2/1/2004 the Avon was flooded and so I fished the cut by the Lockeeper pub at county bridge Keynsham. I put some gbait in to try and catch roach but none showed. On a top set shallow I caught lots of bleak, and then later on a few roach turned up over the gbait. Had a good 12lb. Always a good place to fish is the cut when the river is very high, if you have a short top set then actually fishing right under the road bridge can be good.

Fished a match at Viaduct the following weekend, peg 59 on Lodge lake. It was rock hard and I only had 25lb made up of 3 carp and 3 skimmers, I was 3rd on the lake with that!

I didn’t go fishing at all until 22nd February, it was an open match on the K&A canal that was a practice for the ATWL semi final. I was at Savernake, and it wasn’t very good where I drew. 2lb of mainly gudgeon on squatts, and just a few tiny perch and Ruffe on worms. I have a feeling that Ian Spriggs won this match with a good bag of skimmers. The semi two weeks later and I was drawn Farmers at Marlborough, had some crack anglers in my section and remember Keith Arthur was a couple of pegs away. It was another struggle for me in a low weight section, this time I had 1lb 13oz of gudgeon and some small roach, 7th out of 15 in my section with that. That was better than most of my team as we came 13th oh dear!

The last match of the season for me was at Newbridge, looking for a bream bagging session. I drew peg 38 at the bottom of the straight and was happy with that. Unfortunately the bagging never happened, I had 4 bream and a skimmer, but I list the last two bream and that cost me framing. It looks like I’m going to miss the last season match this year as I have to travel to Germany for business meetings, gutted.

Hopefully a week of mild weather will bring the fish back on the feed, but not sure yet where I will go.


Sunday 7 January 2024

Hillview Fishery Open

 Happy New Year everyone, hopefully you had a great Christmas and New Year. My wife and I went to Tenerife for New Year, what a great decision that was, 25C every day and missed all the storms in the UK. I did pick up an irritating cough that I still cannot shake but I’ve not felt ill.



Back to work and back to normal, but where to go to get back on the bank? The river was certainly out of the question, the highest I have seen the Bristol Avon in my lifetime, and feel sorry for those who got flooded. My choice was Hillview near Tewkesbury as Martin Reyat told me it was fishing well, plus there were a lot of ide stocked a while back. With a lot of F1’s in there I should get some bites which is all I really want in the winter. I didn’t know if the match would be on the canals or the lakes so made rigs up for both.

I woke Sunday having had the same recent cough affected sleep 😫. That said I felt ok, and was soon at the fishery enjoying a breakfast. Martin was already there and it was nice to see Lewis Walker. There was some event on the canals and so the open was on the two lakes. I drew peg 32 which is on the top bank on Heron lake, can be good and yesterday Lee Massey had 75lb on it and came 3rd on the lake. Bang opposite was Lewis on 22 which won the lake yesterday. However, my money was on Ian Didcote to win from peg 9, as he’s won on his last 4 visits here and is a very good angler.


It was a chilly start but very calm, I’d set up a 4x10 for the margins, a 4x12 with 18 SFLB to 0.12 reflo fluorocarbon for top set plus two and 11.5m. Also set up a 4x14 in case it got windy. No lead rod as your cut off here.

I started at 11.5m with maggots I started by Toss potting in to see what happened. It took me 10 minutes to get a bite which I connected with and this fish was not an F1. Got it in and was a carp of 6lb, surprised by this as apparently yesterday it was all F1’s caught. I had a fair wait to get another indication but eventually I started to get a few more bites either an F1 or an ide. I had 15lb after the first hour.

The second hour was steady, and I was catapulting maggots as well to try to attract more fish into the peg. Probably had 28lb after hour 2, but then bites stopped. I tried my short lines but only had 1 small skimmer. Lewis was doing the best on my lake it seemed, but I thought I was next best. Hour 3 was a struggle and the whole lake seemed to have switched off, 35lb was my estimate. I tried fishing 13m but never had a bite here, also tried fishing off at an angle but that only produced a few fish. My original 11.5m swim yielded an odd ide and rare F1. Then an hour to go I finally got a few F1’s on my top set plus two. With 30 minutes to go I gently placed a third keepnet in the lake…. Big mistake. I never caught another F1, but lost 2 at the net fouled. Bound to cost me I thought. Never had a bite in the margins today.



My final weight was 55lb 8oz. Mission accomplished in that I had an enjoyable day with bites. But it was not quite enough to get me coin, as my section was won with 59lb 5oz by Darren Knight who caught well the last two hours short on maggots. Lewis won the other section and lake with 65lb.

The match was won as predicted by Ian Didcote, he smashed it with 124lb, 50lb clear of second place. Class act.


Full results below on the sheet. 


Well I managed to emulate the result Lee had the day before off the peg, he was also narrowly beaten. I’ll have to go again, need the practice and worth the effort for bites.



Sunday 17 December 2023

Bitterwell Lake Christmas Open



 It’s nearly a month since my last match which was a poor day at Windmill lakes. The river is still high and fast although probably now clear, and with no river matches I knew of I didn’t know what to do this weekend. A Quick look on Facebook and I saw Paul Isaacs was running an open on Bitterwell Lake on Sunday, and I thought that will do me.

I did a bit of preparation on Saturday and was able to tie some hooks whilst listening to the radio and enjoying an away Gas win. I was a bit tired after a lads get together on Friday night, so had an early night for a change. Still didn’t get a great nights sleep though, so was going to be groggy Sunday.

Well it’s still mild, at 10 to 12C and nice not to have to scrape the ice off the windscreen in the morning, so nice and easy to get the van loaded and off to Bitterwell. It’s been a few years since I fished a match here, Paul runs silvers matches on Tuesdays which are always well attended, but I’m always working. I really didn’t know where was a good draw today, but pulled out peg 4 on the road bank. Paul and Martin McMahon said it would be best fishing for carp on the tip. That was fine with me as I had rigged up two tip rods, one with a Preston ICS hybrid feeder, and the other a straight lead. 0.17 to 16 KKM B with a band.


I was basically in the middle of the lake, which generally I’d be happy with in winter as the carp tend to hole up somewhere out of the way of Bankside disturbance. I had my new Preston trays in use for the first time today, lots of space for bait etc with these. I wasn’t expecting a lot on the pole but did set up a couple of 4x14 rigs for fishing maggots at 7m, and pellets at 13m. On my right was venue regular Keith Turner, and my left fellow Gashead John Smith. 

We started at 10 and we all fed our pole lines and then went out on the tip. My feed pellets were 2mm Sonubaits pro feed, and I put a fluoro Bandum in the band.

My first cast on the hybrid was in the water for 19 minutes before a carp pulled the rod round. That was a nice start. The next cast gave me two little liners but nothing else. I had Paul Isaacs sat with me for a bit, and he told me I was casting bang on the distance he would choose. He saw me catch my first carp and then my second carp after 45 minutes. An hour gone and 10lb so a decent start with just 3 or 4 other anglers having a carp.

In the second hour I had a skimmer on the tip but nothing else, it seemed the carp had moved as Keith then had 2 carp in 2 casts. Smithy was still blanking. My third hour was poor, the tip was dead, whilst Keith had a few skimmers and a tench on the method feeder. Smithy caught a couple of small skimmers on the pole and I followed suit. I never had a bite at 13m, but at 7m I had a 2oz hybrid and then hooked a carp, but after a few minutes it came off and I was sure it had been foul hooked.

I hooked another carp out of the blue in the fourth hour, but just as it was in netting range the hook pulled out. With an hour to go I was probably in about 7th or 8th place, but 4 carp was the best it seemed. I cast the hybrid a bit further out (to where I saw a carp jump), and with 50 minutes to go had another carp. Then nothing again, tried the pole again for absolutely nothing. Back on the tip and with 15 mins to go I hook and land carp number 4, and with 5 minutes left I got carp number 5.

Match over and for me it had been all about the first and last hour. I thought I had 32lb, Keith 20lb and Smithy chucked back. I was just hoping my lost carp wouldn’t cost me. Didn’t take long to get weighed in, and my carp and 2 silvers went 35lb 14oz. 

My bag was just enough to win the day, beating Andrew Chivers opposite me, he caught 4 carp and some skimmers on bread on the lead. In third Paul Elms had 2 carp and 13lb of skimmers on pellet, that was top silvers on the day.

Thanks to Paul for a well run match, and for the breakfast roll, mince pie and a little Christmas spirit 😊.  Top 6 shown below..

1st Tim Ford 35lb 14oz peg 4

2nd Andrew Chivers 31lb 12oz peg 19

3rd Paul Elms 28lb 8oz peg 27

4th James Hennessy 24lb 13oz peg 12

5th Keith Turner 23lb 3oz peg 6

6th Kevin Winstone 11lb 14oz peg 10


This might be my last match of 2023, and if so I’d like to wish you a very happy Christmas and I hope you enjoy the festivities. 🎅🎅🎅