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, 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!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Sri Lanka Part One: Saltwater fishing in Kirinda

Back in March last year, my family and I booked up a fishing holiday with Sportquest and Gamefishing Asia to Sri Lanka. We had researched the fishing in many countries and had been looking for a trip that would give us a great chance of bumping up our species lists, and at the same time, a good chance of catching some big fish on lures, such as Giant Trevally. The one species that really swayed our decision to go to Sri Lanka in the end was the Clown Knifefish, known in Sri Lanka as the Featherback, which was a fish Dad and I had been dreaming of catching. Sri Lanka looked like a beautiful country to visit and try for these, as well as many other species.

We flew out on the 18th December, staying for Christmas and New Year, with five days fishing booked with Nicolas Jamin in Kirinda on Sri Lanka’s south coast, and then a long drive to Lake Bolgoda in the hope of Featherback. The idea was to lure fish using different techniques so we could maximise our chances of catching different species - using poppers and stickbaits for big GT’s, heavy speed jigging in deep water and light or slow jigging on the reefs, which proved to be a great way of bumping up the species list.

We took along a range of chugger poppers, pencil poppers, floating and sinking stickbaits for the GT’s, as well as some GT Ice Cream lures. The takes were absolutely insane as they blasted our lures! Then all hell breaks loose, and you have a full on battle with one of the meanest, toughest, strongest fish that swims! It had been a while since I’d caught a big saltwater fish and my first big Sri Lankan GT, which was also one of my biggest of the trip, beat me up big time!

Most of our days were spent fishing various methods, but on two of the days we fished exclusively for big GT’s, and on our penultimate day, Nico said we were on a mission to catch as many GT as possible, as he was starting a tagging programme. On that day we boated 16 between us to around 20kg and lost at least 5, and missed as many takes. The Sébile Splasher 190, Heru Skipjack 150, GT Ice Cream Skinny and FC Labo floating stickbait were our four most successful GT lures.

Earlier in the week, whilst targeting the GT, I also managed to land a nice Spanish Mackerel using one of Nico’s poppers - the whole fish came flying out of the water as it took the lure! I was lucky not to get bitten off, as the teeth on a Spanish Mackerel are razor sharp - the popper also cost upwards of $80 too, which would have been costly!

Dad also caught a big Bluefin Trevally on a chartreuse Sébile Splasher. He seemed to be a Bluefin Trevally magnet throughout the whole trip - he must have caught well over 20 on all the lure methods - and I only caught one!

We also caught a few GT’s speed jigging and light jigging. I’ve only ever tried speed jigging once and that was in Mauritius a couple of years ago, and just like the popping for GT’s, it’s an exhausting way of fishing, especially in over 30°C, but very exciting.

At Kirinda we hooked up in to some very big fish - you’d hook up, get a few headshakes and then the fish would go on a run that was almost impossible to stop on the gear we were using! Nico reckoned these were huge Dogtooth Tuna. We did manage to land some of the fish we hooked speed jigging though, including smaller Dogtooth Tuna, GT’s, Barracuda, Tuna and Bluefin Trevally.

Some of the best fun we had was light jigging with speed and slow jigs between 60g - 120g. Before we headed to Sri Lanka I bought a PE2 slow jigging rod, which I coupled with an Abu Revo Toro Beast loaded with 30lb Whiplash, and this proved to be a great move - not only for catching multiple species, such as Tomato Grouper, Rainbow Runner, Doublespotted Queenfish and Lunartail Snapper, but I was amazed at the size of the fish it could handle! We caught some nice Gold Spot Trevally and I also landed this Spanish Mackerel after it gave me one hell of a fight! The drag on the Revo Toro Beast was certainly singing, but it was very smooth and handled the fish really well.

Nico also managed to catch this amazing looking Napoleon Wrasse - a fish that he’d been wanting to catch for many years.

We caught a lot of smaller fish too, but it's always great fun when you're not quite sure what you're going to hook in to next and all of these were new species for us, which really made our trip.

One of the best sights I saw whilst fishing was a Blue Whale spouting, with the back and tail coming out of the water as it descended in to the depths - it was absolutely huge! We also saw Dolphins and on the following day, which was Christmas Eve, we went on a safari in Yala National Park. In the space of 24 hours I saw a Blue Whale, Elephants, Water Buffalo, Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles, Wild Boar, Deer, Hares, Mongoose, Monkeys and a Leopard!

There were plenty of monkeys around, even around the hotel Dad and I were heading off fishing for the day and my Mum turned the TV on, which she had been watching the night before, and there was no reception. Later that morning, whilst we were fishing, she asked at the reception desk, and they got a mechanic in to have a look. It turned out that Monkeys had stolen the satellite dish!!

Christmas Eve turned out to be a very special one as our taxi driver, Kamal, and his family joined us for the safari - his wife Priyanka, his daughter Prishani and son Shehan. You couldn’t find a friendlier family and after the safari we had a great Christmas Eve gala dinner at our hotel with them, with a few beers afterwards!

On Christmas morning we went fishing (as you do!). Kamal took us to a river, so we took an LRF rod along with us to see if we could catch some new species. It only took 30 seconds or so for Dad to catch his first fish, which was only a few ounces, but it was certainly a new species. He dropped it back in the water whilst I was getting the camera out, then he saw the head of a Crocodile of about 10ft long loom up from the murky water and engulf the fish! He didn't have much chance of landing it on an LRF rod! Frustratingly, we didn’t get a picture of the fish - so we still don’t know what it was!

Just a few minutes later, we heard something running behind us along the road. We didn’t look behind at first, thinking it was a stray dog, which there were plenty of, but then, I looked around and it turned out to be a huge Monkey, probably about 4ft long! It missed us by a couple of feet and continued to run along the road for another 20m or so before disappearing behind the rocks!

Anyway, we moved after half an hour as we hadn’t had any interest since Dad hooked the Crocodile. We went to the estuary of another river, which was an amazing setting to fish in - there were Elephant footprints in the sand and loads of monkeys - on the other side of the river this time! There were many different types of birds, especially Kingfishers, including the Pied Kingfisher. We caught a new species for us both here (which I’m yet to find the name of), and I also landed a small GT on a crankbait.

We had a fantastic time in Kirinda, and we really enjoyed our stay at Elephant Reach Resort and fishing with Nico. Both Nico and his mate Achila were brilliant and Nico was arguably the best guide we’ve ever fished with - his knowledge and experience of fishing for a multitude of species all across the world is mind-blowing! Not only that, he's a great guy, very friendly and very helpful.

On the 28th it was time to move on to our next destination - which I’ll talk about in my next post!