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 and sunsets 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...

Thursday, 22 March 2018

A fresh start to a new year

Back in 2012, I was very lucky to have been given the opportunity to become a consultant for Pure Fishing, representing brands such as Abu Garcia, Berkley and Sébile. I’ve had some amazing experiences fishing with top anglers and made some great friends, and it’s been a massive learning curve, not only about fishing, but also the angling industry. At the end of last year though, I made the decision to join Fox Rage and Salmo as a consultant for them, and my Dad also joined as a sponsored angler. I’d like to thank Pure Fishing for the last six years, and we’re very grateful to the team at Fox and Salmo for giving us both new opportunities!

Joining Fox Rage and Salmo hasn’t been the only change this year. Towards the end of last year I also made the decision to have a change of direction from my main job at Get Hooked on Fishing, where I was Project Manager for the East of England. I can’t thank the team and trustees at the charity enough - I've had some fantastic times, learned a lot about coaching and met some great people. I'm also very grateful for all the volunteers that have helped the charity out at events that I've organised over the last few years - without them it wouldn't have been possible. So 2018, so far, has been all about change - getting used to new gear, and a new job, which I started in February, at Farlows in Pall Mall.
As a boy, I always used to look forward to days out in London, and one of the highlights was to visit Farlows with my Dad, so to be working in such a prestigious store with so much history is a great privilege.

Prior to this year, I hadn’t used much of the new Fox Rage gear, apart from Replicants and Chubby Shads (which I’ve caught a lot of fish on, but that was a long time ago!) although my Dad and I have been using Salmo lures since they first came over to the UK, and over the years we’ve caught some fantastic fish on them, which I’ll come on to a little bit later.

It's always exciting trying out new lures, and one of the ranges of soft baits that I couldn't wait to try were the new Critters. Both my Dad and I are a huge fan of creature baits and as soon as we saw them we were confident the fish would like them! They have a slimmer profile than many creature baits, which I really like, and a very subtle action - perfect for finicky fish.

Since the beginning of January, we’ve managed to catch some nice fish on the Critters - Dad’s second fish caught on the critter was a chunky 3lb+ Perch - his first ‘3’ of the year!

In February, I met up with Steve Phillips, the Fox Rage/Salmo Media Manager for a film fishing with the Rage Critters. I was really looking forward to working with Steve as we’ve worked on features before together for LURE and Total Coarse Fishing. I was really hoping the rivers would fine down in time, as we’d had a lot of rain before the film and a lot of my local rivers had been chocolate and bombing through, but thankfully the river we’d chosen to film on looked almost perfect on the day, although there was rain forecast on the day of the filming. I set myself a challenge to catch a Pike, Perch and a Chub on the Critters, and managed all three species, including a bonus Trout!

Dad and I have also been experimenting with using the Critters for trailers for chatterbaits, and this has also helped us catch some nice Perch in the final few weeks of the season.

On the same day as I caught the Perch above, Dad, who was jigging a 7.5cm Zander Pro Shad, hooked what he first thought was an enormous Perch, as his Twitch and Jig rod was bent almost double and the fish, at first, was giving some heavy headshakes. As the fight went on though we realised it was going to be either a Pike or a Carp, and it turned out to be the latter - not the species Dad was expecting to be his first fish caught on a Zander Pro Shad, but an immaculate winter Common, hooked perfectly in the top lip!

A week later, we met up with Steve again, to film a tips video on targeting big Perch. It was a freezing cold day and when we first started fishing the braid and rings on the rods were freezing up, but we managed to catch a few fish.

After the film, Steve stayed on and fished with us for a while, and caught one of the fattest looking Perch we’d ever seen! The three of us first thought it might reach 4lb, but it measured 41cm and weighed 3lb 9oz. It was a fantastic looking fish and a great way to round off the day!

As I mentioned earlier, my Dad and I have used quite a few of the Salmo lures over the years, and one of our favourites has been the Bullhead Super Deep Runner. My Dad especially has caught some fantastic fish on the Bullhead, including Perch to over 4lbs and an 8lb 10oz Brownie from my local River Lea.

My first fish caught on the Bullhead this year was a Chub, caught along a section of river where I've only ever seen one Chub caught before, and that was a fish my Dad caught over 10 years ago on a curltail, so it was a nice surprise to catch another one after all that time!

For the last few weeks of the season, normally, the weather improves and you start to feel like Spring is on it’s way - not this year though! Britain was hit with the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ that brought with it snow and freezing conditions that even caused parts of my local rivers to freeze over! In the past, when I’ve fished in these kind of conditions, I’ve found tactics such as jigging and drop shotting work better as you can fish these tactics very slowly, but the Bullhead continued to produce fish.

Right in the thick of the ‘Beast from the East’, I had a feature pencilled in the diary with Steve about using the Salmo crankbaits. To be honest, I didn’t think it would go ahead but Steve was keen to come along and freeze with us!

It was one of the coldest days I’ve ever fished on - the car thermometer read -6°C (but with the wind chill it felt much colder) and the conditions were absolutely brutal, with a strong easterly wind and heavy snow blowing in our faces for much of the day. Every other cast was spent removing ice from the guides and even the braid and reels were freezing up! Although not a monster, I was very happy to catch this Pike in such extreme conditions!

Thankfully, it was a bit warmer on our next trip! It was one of those days where the weather forecast was changing every few minutes and by mid afternoon it was raining heavily. However, not long after it started to rain, I had a bite on the Bullhead. The fish didn’t fight particularly well and came in like a sack of potatoes, but it had quite a bit of weight and as it got closer to the net I could see it was a very big Perch! I was secretly hoping it would scrape 4lb, but it exceeded that and at 4lb 4oz and 46cm, it was my biggest Perch of the season. It’s also my biggest crank bait caught Perch, so I was well chuffed with this fish! It was shortly followed by another nice Perch of 2lb 8oz, also caught on the Bullhead.

The next day was Dad’s birthday and he set himself a target to catch a 3lb+ Perch, and he achieved his target within the space of an hour! That was the only Perch we caught between us that day though, apart from a couple of jacks.

On the last weekend before the end of the river season, it pretty much consistently rained, which was bad news for a lot of anglers wanting to fish on the last couple of days of the season. I wasn’t able to fish on the last day, so Dad and I fished on the penultimate day, determined not to be beaten by the poor river conditions! When Dad and I turned up to fish, we knew with only inches of visibility it was going to be a tough day - and it was! I only had one bite all day, but I was very pleased with my last fish of the river season!

Friday, 29 December 2017

Pursuing Pike and Perch in the run up to the New Year...

It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated my blog, so this post is a summary of the fishing I’ve done since October. I haven’t fished any reservoirs for predators for a couple of months now - most of my fishing has been spur of the moment trips, targeting Perch on rivers and Pike on a couple of large gravel pits.

Back in October, Dad and I joined a syndicate that consists of some huge gravel pits, that we’d heard had produced some good Perch. It’s always exciting joining a new syndicate, especially when you’ve heard rumours of big fish that have been caught from the venues, although this wasn’t the first time my Dad had fished these gravel pits. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, along with a few mates, he used to fish the pits for Carp, where, between them, they caught some cracking fish, so he was excited to rejoin and relive some old memories! He also caught some nice Pike there during the winter months on lures and deadbaits, which I was keen on targeting with larger lures. We weren’t expecting it to be easy, but we like a challenge!

Our first trip was a bit of a disaster, as an algae bloom made visibility poor, and it was not what we were expecting as the gravel pit is normally gin clear, although a jack Pike saved me from a blank. On our second outing, which was an afternoon trip for about two hours at the end of the day, shortly after catching a jack Pike, Dad had a big Perch follow his crank bait in - I didn’t see the fish, but he reckoned it was well over 3lb. Frustratingly, so far, that’s as close as we’ve come to hooking in to a big Perch there. Dad also had another Perch of around 1lb follow him in on the next trip, but it’s the big Perch we’re hoping for.

One evening, I hooked a fish at around 40 yards jigging a Berkley Havoc Sick Fish Jr. It felt like a big Perch at first, especially when I first hooked it at long range, but it turned out to be a Pike of around 8lb. As I netted the fish, it coughed up a Perch, and amazingly, the Perch was still alive! Both fish swam off fine - that Perch had a very lucky escape!

We’ve also had a couple of trips on another of the gravel pits, targeting Pike with bigger lures. On our first trip over there, I had a very big Pike follow my chatter bait in - it must have been 22-23lbs. I let the chatter bait fall to the bottom and the Pike sucked it in right at my feet - I struck, and the lure came flying out of the fish’s mouth, and it spooked! I was really gutted, although I did manage to land a nice Pike later on in the day on a jerkbait, and between us, a few others over the course of a couple more trips - Dad landed the biggest measuring 102cm.

Probably my favourite venues to target big Perch are on rivers, but unfortunately, my local rivers have fished really hard. I did get lucky on a mornings fishing at the end of October, where I managed to catch two nice Perch within the space of about half an hour. As I was about to lift my Texas rigged creature bait out of the water ready to make another cast, a good Perch zoomed up and took the lure at the surface - I struck, and unfortunately, the hook didn't expose. The fish was still there so I dropped the lure back in - it slammed it again, I struck and the lure came flying out of it's mouth again! As I was checking the hook, a leaf fell in to the water and amazingly, the Perch took the leaf off the surface, so I lowered the creature bait so it was sitting on the surface and gave it a couple of twitches, then the fish turned round and took it again - third time lucky and this 3lb 2oz (42cm) was mine!

The morning was about to get a lot better, as this fish was shortly followed by a much bigger one - an immaculate stripey weighing 3lb 11oz and 46cm, which is my biggest of the season so far - hopefully there are more to come!

Over the next month we had a couple more short afternoon trips, and although the bites were few and far between, we caught a couple more nice Perch, as well as a nice Chub that fell for a Rocket Craw.

One evening, we returned to the stretch where I caught the 3lb 2oz and 3lb 11oz and found that the river was very coloured. We weren’t expecting it to be coloured, so I changed to a white Rocket Craw and caught four Perch in the last hour and a half. I prefer not to have re-captures but this 46cm stripey seems to have a liking for creature baits!

About three weeks later, we had a few inches of snow, which melted quickly after raining a couple of days later, and gave the rivers some extra water we desperately needed. As the colour was dropping out of the river,  Dad and I planned to make the most of the ideal conditions and target the Perch. Our first afternoon trip was when the river was still quite coloured - I only had one bite that afternoon, but it was a nice Perch that took a twitch tail drop-shotted beside a boat, which coincidentally was called Sam!

We had another three short afternoon/evening trips after that, but despite the perfect conditions, in three trips we had just two bites - however, one of those was well worth venturing out for! This year, my Dad has had bad tennis elbow, and despite having a cortisone injection in the summer, lately his arm has been playing him up again. Before fishing one afternoon, Dad asked me if he could use my 7’ Villain spinning rod and Revo STX20 reel, which is a fair bit lighter than the set-up he normally uses, so we swapped rods. Once we were fishing, because of the low light and coloured water, Dad decided to change to a brightly coloured creature bait, fished on a cheb rig with a 3g head. Not long after changing, Dad hooked and landed an immaculate Perch weighing 4lb 1oz - an early Christmas present!

The winter months are normally quiet for Get Hooked on Fishing, but since the beginning of December I’ve been running Get Back in to Lure Angling sessions for GHoF, in conjunction with the Angling Trust and Environment Agency. The scheme is aimed at lapsed anglers who would like to try fishing again. I ran three sessions before Christmas, and on the first of those we decided to mainly target Perch. The fishing was really good and quite a few Perch were caught up to 2lb 2oz.

A couple of days later, Dad and I went back, this time fishing ourselves. About 15 minutes after starting, I hooked in to a good fish, which I thought was a good Perch at first, but it then made a long run and I then realised this wasn’t a Perch - it turned out to be a Carp!

Thankfully we went on to catch a few Perch later in the day...

For the next two Get Back in to Lure Angling sessions, the lake where we normally target the Perch was frozen, so we mainly targeted Pike on the big lake. With crystal clear water and both Saturdays being bright and sunny, the conditions made the fishing hard. At the end of the most recent Get Back in to Lure Angling session, I decided to have a few casts with a jerk bait, and on my third cast I saw a Pike miss my lure - I kept on retrieving and it engulfed the lure almost at my feet! It turned out to be a lot bigger than I first anticipated, weighing 21lb 5oz and measuring 108cm!

On the day before Christmas Eve, I had a trip to Grafham flyfishing for Trout from the bank with the Pitsford Pirates. We normally have a get-together around Christmas time and I was really looking forward to catching up with them, as it was the first time I’d fished with the team for a good while. As always, we had a great laugh and the fishing was good too, with lots of hard fighting Rainbows and a couple of nice Browns being caught.

Both my Dad and I have been very lucky to have spent some good times fishing together, and with friends during 2017 - we’ve learnt a lot and caught some very special fish along the way too. Happy New Year to everyone and tight lines for 2018!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A memorable Pike to top some great lure and flyfishing!

During the last week of July and the first week of August, we had quite a bit of rain, which cooled down the temperatures after what had been a very warm June and July. With a couple of free days at the end of the month, I thought after a week of cooler weather it might be a good time to visit the midlands reservoirs and flyfish for Pike, Perch and Zander, so Dad and I booked up a half day on Grafham.

We were a bit unsure how it would fish as we hadn’t fished it since early June, but on my very first cast of the afternoon I had a pluck, just as I was about to lift my fly out of the water. I cast back in the same direction and as I was retrieving my fly I had a much better take, that I struck in to and hooked. After the first few seconds of hooking in to a fish on the fly, I can normally guess what species I’ve hooked, and I was pretty sure on this occasion I’d hooked in to a Pike, as the fish went on a couple of unstoppable runs, which aren’t that characteristic with Perch and Zander. It wasn’t a bad fish either - at 19lb 4oz and 100cm, it was a great start to the afternoon!

The Pike were really switched on and by the time we had to head back in to the harbour, we’d caught another five Pike, with all of them being over 12lb, along with a few Zander and Perch too.

It had been a fantastic afternoon and as you can imagine we couldn’t wait to get back! However, I had a busy fortnight coming up, with four days at the BBC Countryfile Live Show, which was sandwiched between some coaching sessions I was running for Waltham Forest Council at the Walthamstow Angling Academy, so it would be at least a week and a half before we could get back there. On our first opportunity, we returned to Grafham, and although we wanted to fish a full day, we were still quite tired after all the coaching, so we decided to have another afternoon trip instead. Dad had also been suffering from bad tennis elbow, which had got worse since the start of the fishing season. He actually had a cortisone injection booked for the next day, which he wasn’t looking forward to as he hates needles!

The conditions on the day were looking good - the temperatures had cooled down even more, and it wasn’t too windy. Dad said to me that he would just have the occasional cast and would see how his arm fared throughout the afternoon, and after around an hour of fishing he hooked in to the first fish of the afternoon - a Pike just under 10lb.

Not long after releasing this fish, we both spotted a big Pike roll about 70 yards or so away, so we immediately up anchored and headed over to the area where we’d seen the fish roll. On Dad’s second cast, using one of his homemade flies, which I’d nicknamed the ‘Zander Lander’ (although it catches all predators), he had a good take and set the hook. We immediately realised that this was a very big fish - it hardly moved at first, just hugging the bottom before moving very slowly over towards the anchor rope. I could see he was putting as much pressure on the fish as possible - his 10wt looked like it was going to explode! We both didn’t say a word throughout the entire fight and even my heart was pounding! Unfortunately though, it had found the anchor rope and the line started to grate, but thankfully he managed to steer it away and it then went on two unstoppable runs. It then swam around the other side of the boat, and the fish very slowly started to come up to the surface. Eventually, we saw this huge Pike emerge, and Dad steered it towards me with the net, and in it went, head first!

I can’t repeat what he said when it went in the net on my blog, but I’ve never heard him swear so much! We were both stunned and shocked at it’s size. After a few pics, we quickly laid it on the measuring mat and it was at that point we realised how huge it was. At 124cm it was the longest Pike we'd ever seen, and on the scales it weighed 37lb 2oz. Whilst Dad held the fish in the water by the root of the tail, I measured it's girth with a piece of 20lb line, and it was 59cm when laid out on our measuring mat. After a couple more minutes of reviving it and admiring it in the water, it started kicking until eventually Dad just couldn't hold on any longer, and it swam off.

Dad then showed me the fly that he’d caught the fish on, not realising he’d caught it on a smaller version of his Zander Lander, which was tied on a size 2 hook! He’s caught some fantastic predators from Grafham over the years, but this fish topped them all!

After a short while trying to comprehend what had just happened, we started fishing again, and two casts later Dad hooked in to another fish! This time it was a Pike weighing 15lb 12oz, which, in comparison to the 37, looked like a jack pike!

Although Dad told me he was only going to have a few casts, his adrenaline had kicked in and he kept on fishing - he actually told me wanted to try and catch a 10lb+ Zander and a 3lb+ Perch in the same afternoon! Although he didn't manage it, he did catch another three Pike, all good doubles, 2 Zander to around 8lb and to cap it off, right at the last minute, a Perch of 2lb 14oz (42cm).

When I wasn’t taking pictures, I also managed a 17lb 7oz, a jack and a couple of nice Zander too. It was then a mad dash back to the harbour, which we managed just in time!

The next day Dad had his cortisone injection and was advised to rest his arm for the next fortnight or so, but I just couldn’t resist another afternoon back there to give it another go, so I fished by myself whilst Dad joined me in the boat, as he wanted to get some fresh air, although it must have been very frustrating for him not being able to fish and being forced to watch me! I caught two more Pike, and four Zander, along with a Perch of 2lb 14oz.

Over the next week Dad’s arm slowly improved and about a week later we returned, this time both fishing, and we were joined by Nigel Botherway, host of TalkSport’s ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ radio show every Sunday morning. The aim was to try and help Nigel catch his first Perch and Zander on the fly. Sadly, the fishing was really hard and we caught just three Perch between us, but it was great to spend an afternoon in the company of Nigel and talk about fishing trips abroad, which we all really enjoy. This turned out to be our last trip flyfishing for the predators on Grafham, before the lure fishing season opened on September 1st a week and a half later.

On the opening day for lure fishing, we decided to mainly target Pike, although we would bring lighter set-ups and smaller lures just in case we came across some Perch and Zander. We got off to a good start, as it didn’t take long before Dad caught the first Pike of the day - a fish of around 11lb. This was the start of a short spell where the Pike really switched on - I caught a 14lb’er, then I cast back out, retrieved my lure and as I was about to lift it out of the water, a much bigger Pike took the lure, shook it’s head a couple of times and came off. I quickly cast back out and luckily, it took the lure again - but this time I landed it! At 20lb 6oz and 105cm it was to be the biggest Pike we’d catch that day. Then almost as soon as we released it, Dad caught another Pike!

After a couple of hours with no more action in that area, we decided on a change of location in the afternoon. Dad fancied trying an area that, to be honest, didn’t really appeal to me at the time, but I thought that a couple of drifts wouldn’t hurt. I quickly had a take and and hooked in to a fish on my 150g heavy jerk bait rod, that I thought was a Trout. Dad hooked in to a fish at the same time, but he was using a much smaller shad on a spinning outfit. When both fish came to the boat, they both turned out to be good Perch - especially my supposed ‘Trout’! We quickly got them in the net, and they turned out to be 2lb 11oz and 3lb 8oz (46cm). My fish, the 3lb 8oz, had completely engulfed a 6” lure!

We’d found a shoal of good Perch in between 6 and 16ft of water, and I switched to fishing an 11cm Ripple Shad in Cappuccino, which I fished on a straight retrieve. We landed around 12 more Perch, and all but a couple were over 2lb. I also landed a Zander of around 5lb too. They were absolutely wolfing the Ripple Shad!

We returned the next day and started fishing for the Pike again, and with just one follow in the first few hours of fishing, we decided to go back to the area we’d caught the Perch the day before, and target these again. We searched for them on the finder and found they’d moved in to slightly deeper water overnight, and were now in between 21 and 26ft of water. We went on to catch around 20 Perch, again most over the 2lb mark, along with another Zander and three Pike. I also managed to catch something I didn’t really intend on catching - a cold!

Unfortunately, my Dad came down with it a couple of days later too and it completely wiped us out for about a week or so, which was very frustrating as all I wanted to do was go fishing again! After about a week and a half I just had to get back out, and whilst I still wasn’t 100% and didn’t think I could hack a whole day on a reservoir, I had an afternoon on my local river targeting Perch. I hadn’t targeted Perch on rivers for a couple of months, but just 15 minutes in I had an almighty take, which I did hook, but it very quickly came off. I reeled my lure in and found the fish had completely blunted the hook! I quickly sharpened it, cast back out, then hooked and caught a lovely 3lb 5oz (43cm) Perch! It took a Pit Boss Jr. in Blue Shiner Gold.

Since then, we’ve had a couple more trips back to the reservoirs, although the fishing has become considerably harder, which is not surprising after the first month of the reservoirs opening for lure fishing. The trip before last was very frustrating for me - I hooked four Pike and only landed one! We have had some nice Perch though.

As the temperatures continue to cool down, hopefully we can look forward to more good predator fishing in the coming weeks!