Hi! My name is Sam Edmonds. Those of you who know me are aware that I am just 'ever so slightly' keen on my fishing and the love of the outdoors.
Fishing has been a part of my life since the day I was born. I suppose it comes as no surprise when you have a Dad that's fishing crazy. We fish together literally all of the time and have had some fantastic times spent trying to catch all kinds of fish here in the UK and on holidays abroad. Along the way I have met some great fishermen and some of these have become really good friends.
The more I fish the more my fascination and appreciation for the sport grows and catching fish is just the start - there is so much more to angling: travelling, nature, wildlife and watching some spectacular sunrises are just a few.
So I'd like to share in my blog some of my fishing experiences, captures and other related interests such as photography and writing. I hope you will enjoy reading it and find something that interests you too...

Monday, 15 May 2017

Spring fishing... so far!

So far this Spring, my fishing has probably been about as mixed as the weather we've had! I've fished for a variety of species, from flyfishing for Carp and Trout, to quivertipping for Roach, to lure fishing for gravel pit Pike and canal Zander. It’s nice to target different species with different tactics rather than stick with one style of fishing, and even when the river season was open, my Dad and I had been talking about targeting some Roach on a local gravel pit. Crystal clear gravel pits are fascinating places to fish - in fact I enjoy walking round gravel pits spotting fish almost as much as I do fishing them!

We managed to fit in a few afternoon trips targeting the Roach, and to give ourselves the best chance of catching them, we decided to fish in to the dark. Our best results came on dull, overcast days, or when it got dark, as the lake was crystal clear and the fish felt more confident feeding in low light levels. Our best session came on a very dull, overcast, windy day - in four hours we banked 38, with a few over the 1lb mark, including a bonus 3lb Perch caught on double red maggot!

Dad also managed to catch a nice Perch the following day, just shy of 3lb.

After a few trips targeting the Roach, we were itching to get back to some more active fishing, and now the Pike had finished spawning and had a good rest, it was time to start lure fishing again. Late Spring can be one of the most exciting times to lure fish for Pike, especially in shallow gravel pits - ideal places to target them with frogs and even surface lures. Recently, I was wandering around a gravel pit and watched a Coot chasing away a small Pike, which was eyeing up the Coot’s chicks!

Some of my favourite lures for gravel pit Pike at this time of year are in the picture below - starting from the top is the Sébile Magic Swimmer 125mm slow sinking model, the Berkley Powerbait Kicker Frog, Berkley Powerbait Rib Shad 4.5", Sébile Stick Shad 114mm Suspending and a Chatterbait, rigged with a Berkley Pit Boss trailer.

The Powerbait Rib Shad has been one of my favourite shads for Pike since it came out in 2012 and lately it’s been working very well for us - it’s a great size for small and large Pike, and has a wide paddle tail that has an exaggerated swimming action when retrieved. Dad’s caught some very nice fish on these in the last couple of weeks, fished on a straight retrieve in the Blue Shiner Gold and Tennessee Shad colours, both great for fishing in clear water.

On one particular trip on a very large gravel pit, he landed three doubles, all on the Rib Shad, including this 101cm fish, which may have been a twenty if he’d have caught it a couple of months earlier!

The Kicker Frog was probably my favourite Pike lure last year, and this Spring it has also been working well. The takes can be unbelievable - there was one recent fish that followed the frog out from some bulrushes I’d cast to, and continued to follow it across a shallow bay, bow-waving all the way behind the frog before annihilating it just a couple of metres from the rod tip!

We also enjoy lure fishing canals at this time of year, and a couple of weeks ago we had an afternoon trip on the Grand Union Canal targeting Zander. We were curious to see what the fishing would be like as we’d heard that it had been electro-fished with the purpose of removing the Zander. It’s a shame that this has taken place, as the GUC is a fantastic canal to target Zander. Despite hearing this, we were quite surprised that in the first half hour of fishing, we’d caught two Zander and two nice Perch, which was encouraging, but throughout the rest of the afternoon we covered a good mile or so of bank and we only had two more bites, both of which turned out to be Zander. The Zander fishing had indeed been slow, but what was really strange was the lack of Perch - we’ve caught good numbers in the past whilst targeting the Zander, and we only caught two! Maybe it was just one of those days.

When I got back home, I did some research on the removal of Zander from the GUC and it turns out that over 2000 Zander, totalling around 1.5 tons in weight, were removed from around 20 miles of canal. That’s roughly 100 zeds a mile, with an average size of around 1lb 10oz. Obviously the sizes would have been mixed but Zander reach maturity at around 40cm in length, which is around 1lb 8oz in weight, meaning many future generations of Zander have also been affected by the recent electro-fishing. Hopefully one day, the electro-fishing will stop and Zander will be allowed to find a natural balance in the ecosystem of Britain’s longest canal.

Apart from a short hot spell during the first week of April, this Spring has been noticeably cooler than the last few, and looking back at our fishing notes, we were actually flyfishing for Carp by the end of April last year. Last week we had one relatively warm, sunny day, where for the first time since that hot weekend in April, the Carp were close to the surface at our local Rib Valley Lakes, and Dad and I decided to take advantage. Although it was sunny, the north-easterly wind still made it feel quite chilly, and the Carp weren’t as interested as we were hoping - in fact, we only had a couple of chances, and Dad took his on his very first cast! It turned out to be a 20lb 4oz Common, which he caught on one of his home made mixer flies, made from deer hair.

I’ve also managed to fit in a couple of trips flyfishing for Trout, one to Grafham and another on the East Warwick reservoir at Walthamstow after a coaching session for Get Hooked on Fishing. I had a great day with the Pitsford Pirates, fishing with Bart Farmer at Grafham - the buzzer fishing was awesome! Walthamstow isn’t the easiest place to catch Trout, but in the couple of hours we had Dad and I banked five Rainbows, fishing buzzers and damsels under the bung.

Aside from the fishing, I’ve been doing lots of coaching for Get Hooked on Fishing lately at both Walthamstow and Rib Valley. At the end of March I ran a couple of Get Back in to Lure Angling sessions for the Angling Trust, and had a great group of anglers from Romania come along to one of the sessions. What was interesting was that despite all coming from the same country and getting on as if they’d known each other for years, it was the first time many of them had met, as they were part of a Facebook group for Romanian lure anglers in the UK.

We fished on the High Maynard reservoir but, unfortunately, the fishing was really tough, with just one Trout landed, although after the session Dad did manage to bank a nice Perch from the academy pond on a Shrug Minnow.

I really hope the weather starts settling down and warming up soon, as I'm looking forward to when the Carp really come up on top and we can flyfish for them. I also can't wait to flyfish for the predators on the midlands reservoirs...

Monday, 20 March 2017

Earn your stripes!

After returning from Sri Lanka, our plan was to have a few trips along some of our local rivers, to get back in to the swing of fishing in the UK, before heading to rivers further afield trying to track down some big Perch. Unfortunately, we didn’t get off to a good start as two days after returning from Sri Lanka, my Dad came down with Dengue Fever. It was a nasty bug and kept him out of action for a while, but thankfully he’s OK now. Thank goodness he didn’t come down with it when we were on holiday!

When he recovered and we managed to get back out fishing, we decided to take it easy and not travel too far, whilst Dad recovered to 100%. We were quite lucky in that we hit on to some good fishing almost immediately, and caught some nice Perch on Pit Boss Jr’s, Rocket Craws and Ripple Shads.

The biggest, which weighed 3lb 4oz (45cm), took a Ripple Shad in Racy Shad.

After each fishing trip, I take down notes on what we caught, what lures/flies worked on the day, weather etc., and on the evening I caught the 3lb 4oz Perch, as I was writing down some notes from the afternoon’s fishing we’d just had, I decided to count up how many Perch over 3lb I’d caught on lures and flies. Once I’d figured out that I’d caught 99 Perch over 3lb, my target for the remaining five weeks of the season was clear - to catch one more Perch over the 3lb mark!

We started fishing short afternoons on a few of our local rivers, but, unfortunately, the fishing got much harder, so to locate the fish, we had to walk many miles, covering as much water as possible. We did catch the odd nice stripey, with my biggest weighing 2lb 11oz, but my Dad did catch a 3lb 2oz - why couldn’t I have caught that instead?!

We then had quite a lot of rain, which coloured up the rivers to a point where there were just a couple of inches of visibility, so we decided to try a couple of gravel pits. After a couple of trips I’d caught quite a few Pike, but not my intended quarry.

A few more days passed and the rivers had started to fine down to a very nice colour, so it was time to fish the rivers again. There was one particular stretch we had in mind that we hadn’t fished for around 3 months, but my Dad and I were keen to give it a go.

We started around 1pm and after two hours of fishing and a mile of bank covered, neither of us had managed a bite. Moving in to the next swim, there was an overhanging bush on the far side of the river that looked particularly interesting and I made a good cast right under it. I began to hop my Texas rigged Rocket Craw along the bottom, when I felt a very quick ‘nip’, which I was sure was a bite, but it wasn’t enough of a take to set the hook. I was hoping it would come back for another go and after 3-4 more jigs I had a much better take, which I hooked. I could tell almost straight away it was a Perch, characterised by the heavy head shaking, and as it broke the surface I knew this was the fish I’d been after, so I’d better not lose it! Thankfully a few seconds later it slipped over the rim of the net, and it was a lot bigger than I’d initially thought! My Dad and I both knew it was well over 3lbs, but by just how much?

The fish went on the scales and weighed 4lb 2oz (47cm) - I would have been pleased with a scraper 3lb’er, but I was over the moon with a 4lb 2oz!

During the final few of weeks of the season, most of my trips were short early morning or evening sessions. The first couple of weeks after I caught the 4lb 2oz, everywhere we fished seemed to have switched off (apart from a few Pike and the odd Trout - Dad caught a nice fish whilst targeting Chub, and I caught one an hour after dark drop-shotting!).

The harder the fishing became, the further we had to walk so that we could find fish. Although we didn't catch many Perch during the quiet period, the fish we did catch were of a good size. The Sick Fish Jr, rigged on a 5g jighead, caught most of these fish.

We also had a trip to a gravel pit we hadn't fished before, and I was lucky enough to catch this old warrior just before it got dark, along with a jack Pike.

Our plan for the last week of the season was to make the most of the spare time I had early in the mornings or late afternoon/evenings. On one late evening trip, after a biteless couple of hours leading up to dark, we were just about to call it a day and head home when something slammed Dad’s white Rocket Craw, in pitch black conditions. It turned out to be a 3lb 6oz (42cm) Perch - not the best looking stripey he’s caught, but it proved that fish were still feeding after it got dark. After taking a few pictures, it was time to head home for dinner, but we planned to return on our next opportunity.

We returned a couple of days later on a warm bright and sunny afternoon, which really made it feel like Spring! Whilst walking to the area we wanted to start fishing, we spotted several Carp in the margins. We both quickly changed to tiny creature baits and tried to stalk them, and I came very close to hooking one when a fish sucked my creature bait off the bottom, but when I struck the hook didn’t set! Whilst this was happening Dad spotted another fish sitting on the bottom. It was hard to make out exactly what species it was, but he couldn’t resist casting his creature bait close to it. One cast was all that was needed and he hooked in to what he first thought was small Carp - then he noticed it had stripes! It turned out to be a cracking Perch of 3lb 13oz (45cm).

A few minutes after releasing the Perch, I hooked and landed a jack Pike, that was followed in by a Perch that was longer than the Pike! I called Dad over to have a go for it, but by the time he’d run up the bank with his rod, the fish had swum away. The Pike was only tiny but out of curiosity, I measured it, and it turned out to be 44cm, so it was obvious that the Perch that followed me in must have been a good fish!

Later that evening, just before it got dark, we returned to the area where the Perch had followed me in, and I hooked and landed a very long Perch, measuring 46cm. Despite being 1cm longer than Dad’s 3lb 13oz, it was actually 10oz lighter, weighing 3lb 3oz, which goes to show that you can’t guess the weight of the fish just on a measurement.

The next day was March 14th, the last day of the river season. We decided to target Chub on lures first, as we knew it would be our last opportunity to target these until June 16th, before trying for Perch again as it got dark. Over the past month we’d fished some very Chubby looking sections of river, where we know there are big Chub, and we’d both been surprised that we hadn’t caught one, even whilst targeting Perch on lures, but for the last day we decided to visit a stretch we hadn’t fished since the summer, but we knew there can sometimes can be the odd big Chub.

To start with, we made a few casts to an overhanging bush, with just a follow from a tiny jack. After I’d felt like I’d covered the bush, I decided to move upstream to cover another overhanging tree. My first two casts weren’t particularly accurate but on my third cast, the lure landed exactly where I wanted it to, right tight to the roots - when the lure landed in the water I actually said to myself ‘that’s the one!’. I hopped my creature bait about six inches off the bottom, hopped it again and then had one hell of a take and struck in to a big Chub! It immediately tried to get into the roots, but luckily I managed to turn its head and guide it in to mid river, before Dad came to the rescue and netted it for me, as I was in an awkward, tight swim. At 6lb 3oz and 58cm in length, it was a new P.B!

After a couple more hours targeting Chub, and catching a few jacks, we thought we’d try and end the season with a 3lb Perch. We only had two bites between us that evening - one tiny Perch that dropped off as I was lifting it in, and then Dad hooked a very short but plump fish. It wasn’t quite a 3lb’er, but at 2lb 11oz, Dad had caught a nice Perch and I’d caught a P.B Chub to sign off a very enjoyable season!

Aside from my own fishing, throughout February and earlier this month I’ve been running some lure fishing sessions for the Angling Trust and Get Hooked on Fishing at Rib Valley and Walthamstow. February isn’t the easiest month to catch fish, but hopefully the participants have learned something new from the sessions. I know some of the guys have been out fishing since and caught some lovely fish, so well done to them!

As the end of March nears, the coaching looks set to take off as the weather warms up - bring on the Spring!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sri Lanka Part Two: Fishing Lake Bolgoda

We really enjoyed the first half of our holiday to Sri Lanka, and the fishing had been fantastic. Our trip wasn’t over though and we still had more fishing to look forward to at our next destination, and after a week and a half in Kirinda in the south, it was time to move on. After a 9 hour drive (with a few stops for some sightseeing, and also at our taxi driver Kamal’s house to meet his family for a cup of tea), we arrived in the pitch black at a small ferry that took us on to Ruskin Island, situated in the middle of Lake Bologda. Here we would be targeting Barramundi, Ox Eye Herring, and the fish we were really hoping to catch, the Clown Knifefish (also known as the Featherback in Sri Lanka).

Bologda is a huge estuary around an hour and a half south of the capital, Colombo. Similarly to Kirinda, there is so much wildlife - we’d wake up most mornings to a 5ft long Water Monitor just outside our door, and as we were fishing we had Monkeys and Crocodiles watching us! There was one particular Crocodile that was huge - it must have been 13ft long!

We had a day exploring the island, relaxing and preparing the fishing gear before getting up at 5.30am the next morning for our first day’s fishing with our guide, Sakthivel. Our first morning was spent in the lower part of the lake, and using small crank baits and bucktail jigs, we caught Mangrove Jack (Snapper), Ox Eye Herring, Giant Herring and small GT’s, which were great fun on light tackle. The Mangrove Jack fought particularly hard!

I also managed to catch a species of Catfish that Sakthivel said was the first time he'd seen one caught on a lure, using a bucktail jig that my Dad had tied up back at home. I've since found out that it's called a Shovelnose Sea Catfish.

We returned to the house for lunch, which would normally be a Sri Lankan curry cooked by our chef Asheen, before heading out in the afternoon for our main target - the Featherback.

As we journeyed to our first spot for targeting the Featherback, we woke up thousands of Fruit Bats resting in the trees, which was an amazing sight!

Around half an hour after leaving our apartment we arrived at some prawn traps, and we couldn’t believe what we were about to see next. There were Featherback rolling literally everywhere! However, they soon had us tearing our hair out, as they proved very difficult to catch. We made cast after cast, trying many different hardbaits and soft baits, when suddenly, I had a very delicate bite on a Sébile Koolie Minnow, which I struck in to - it zoomed towards the prawn traps, but unfortunately came off! About an hour later, just as we were running out of time, Dad also lost a fish on a 3” shad. It had been a frustrating afternoon to see so many fish and not catch one - it had us wondering what we’d done wrong, but we had been warned that they can be frustrating to catch!

The next morning, which was New Year’s Eve, we started at a different area, and after trying even more lures, after an hour or so I pulled out a Berkley Powerbait Rattle Shrimp and showed Sakthivel, and he gave me the thumbs up that this could work. Not long after, I had a tiny tap and hooked in to a fish! The fight was similar to that of a Tarpon, leaping everywhere - the main difference though was that this fish was swimming backwards as well as forwards! Even as it slid over the net it was still trying to swim backwards to escape! I was over the moon as I’d managed to end 2016 with our main target species of the trip!

Later on that morning, after trying the Rattle Shrimp for another hour or so without a bite, Dad suggested that one of us should try a Power Tube, so I rigged one in Pumpkinseed up on a Berkley Nitro Beam hook, which also looked very much like a shrimp. This worked almost straight away and I soon landed my biggest Featherback of the trip!

Unfortunately for Dad though, he lost a Featherback, which shook the hook as it leapt out of the water. Our morning session was over, but at least one of us had caught our main target species. We fished for Barramundi that afternoon, but only caught a couple of small GT’s and Giant Herring - these were still great fun though on light gear!

Now we were hoping that on our last day’s fishing, which was on New Year’s Day, Dad would be able to land a Featherback. Dad was desperate to catch one and I could see he was feeling the pressure!

The Sri Lankans certainly know how to party for New Year - the parties and fireworks were still continuing as we were heading to one of the Featherback spots at 7am!

When we arrived the fish were very active and I caught a fish almost immediately on a Rattle Shrimp, then Dad hooked up soon after arriving, but he lost it, then hooked another but lost that one too! It’s rare to see him get wound up by a fish but these Featherback were really getting to him!

About a hour later, he hooked up again, and we were praying that this one wasn’t going to come off. It was very acrobatic and then, right at the boat, it leapt out of the water - but thankfully landed straight in the net! Phew! I don’t know what Dad would have done if he had lost that one!

It turned out to be the biggest Featherback of the trip, and then shortly after, he caught another smaller one on the tube.

Over our three days fishing we’d definitely noticed that the Featherback had really short feeding spells, and the best action had been in the mornings, probably due to the tides. Dad was relieved to catch those fish in the morning as, just like the previous days, the fishing in the afternoon had been much tougher. They’re an awesome looking fish and I would love to catch one on the fly - definitely an excuse for another trip back!

I managed to capture a few of the Featherback we caught on my GoPro, which I've put in to a short video.

That afternoon I had a Barramundi swirl at my crank bait - if I’d have hooked and landed it, that would have been another new species for me. That was the last of our guided fishing, but we had one spare day before heading back to the UK and we decided to have a couple of hours wandering around Ruskin Island to see what we could catch. Dad was using a Pit Boss Jr. and had cast in to a pond on the island full of lillies and duckweed, and as he retrieved it back across the surface, we noticed a wake chasing it. It was stopping and starting again, and then, from beneath the duckweed a huge Frog came up and nailed it! It was the biggest Frog I’ve ever seen - with its legs extended it was well over 1ft long! Unfortunately though, as we were using a barbless hook, as Dad was holding it ready for me to get the camera out, it somehow unhooked itself and escaped! That wasn’t the only one though - we ended up catching a few more, although none as big as the first one!

Those two and a half weeks flew by, and two days later we were back in a frosty UK. We’d set out to catch as many different species as possible and we ended up with 37 in total, which was awesome! A big thank you to Sportquest and Gamefishing Asia for organising our trip and making it a brilliant one, and to our guides Nico, Sakthivel and our driver, Kamal!