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...

Monday, 13 August 2018

Exploring Ontario and Québec's fantastic fishing!


As a mad keen lure and fly fisherman, I’ve learnt a lot from reading and watching how American and Canadian anglers target Bass, Walleye, Yellow Perch, Pike and Musky - species very similar to our predators here in the UK. I’ve been lucky enough to fish in Florida a few times for Largemouth Bass, but for years my Dad and I have talked about organising a trip to try and catch Musky, Walleye, Smallmouth Bass and other species. We normally try and go on holiday over Christmas or in the colder months, when the northern US states and Canada would be far too cold for a fishing trip (unless you like ice fishing!) and Musky would be out of season, but this year, we decided to have a change from the norm and have a holiday targeting the species that have influenced so much of our fishing here in the UK.

Out of the species we wanted to target, we knew the Musky were going to be the toughest to catch, so the trip was based around targeting ‘the fish of 10,000 casts’, with other days fishing for Smallmouth Bass, Walleye and other species fitted in around those. We spent a great deal of time researching which area to visit to give us the best chance of catching these species, as well as there being lots to do in the area (as it would also be a family holiday), and came to the conclusion that the area around Ottawa ticked all the boxes. We contacted John Anderson of the Ottawa River Musky Factory, a guide renowned for casting for and catching monster Muskies, and John very kindly recommended a couple of other guides who could help us catch other species too. A plan was formulated and we were soon preparing for a trip to Canada!

We arrived in Ottawa late in the evening, picked up the hire car and stayed a night near the airport, but we were up very early in the morning because of the jetlag. Our first week of the trip was based in Kingston on Lake Ontario, where the St. Lawrence River forms, and we were going to be driving down in the afternoon, but our plan was to stop off at Cabelas en route. As we were up so early, we were at Cabelas just as it opened to have a look around and stock up on a few items!


Later that afternoon we arrived in Kingston, and the evening was spent gearing up for two days fishing with Dave Curtis for Smallmouth Bass, with maybe the chance of a Walleye or Musky. To give you some idea of how big Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River is, just the Kingston area alone has over 1000 islands, with the biggest over 17 miles long!

On our first day’s fishing with Dave, we targeted Bass, and although we had a fairly slow start, the fishing warmed up as the day went on and we both caught our first Smallmouth Bass, along with plenty of others.




Most of them were caught drop-shotting plastic worms rigged wacky style, but the best fish of the day took one of the new Fox Rage spinnerbaits in Table Rock, with a Zander Pro Shad trailer. Pound for pound, they’re like Perch on steroids - intense head shaking, powerful runs and jumping too! I really wish we had them in the UK - no wonder so many people fish for them in the US and Canada!


The Great Lakes have some of the biggest and best Smallmouth Bass fishing in the world - one of the reasons for this is because of the abundance of Round Gobies, which the Smallmouth love to eat. They're native to the Black and Caspian Seas but got in to the Great Lakes system through ballast from ships. In fact, my very first Smallmouth of the trip coughed up a Goby! We managed to catch a few Gobies later on that week whilst fishing tiny lures from the shore, and compared them to the Fox Rage Grondles, and they were very similar.



The next day was split in to two - we spent the morning Musky fishing, but with no interest by lunchtime, we took a break in a restaurant on an island in the St Lawrence River, and after having probably one of the best burgers I’ve ever had, we had a look to see if the wind had calmed down enough for us to venture out further in to Lake Ontario to search for Walleye.


Luck was on our side as the wind had calmed down enough. Normally, July is a bit early for targeting Walleye in Kingston, as they’re migratory fish and don’t usually show up until August, but, just like the UK, Ontario is experiencing an unusually hot summer, so Dave guessed the Walleye may have turned up early, so this was his first attempt at catching Walleye this season on Lake Ontario. Not long after we started fishing, I caught my first Walleye, and a fantastic looking fish too between 7-8lb - I couldn’t believe it!


Then about half an hour later Dad hooked up and landed an even bigger fish, which was over 30” long - not bad for his first ever Walleye!


Although we continued fishing for another couple of hours without a bite, we were more than made up with both catching our first Walleye, with Dad’s being considered a trophy fish!

The DIY fishing around Kingston was really interesting. Kingston Harbour is based where the Cataraqui River meets the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario, and the crystal clear water meant you could see a lot of the species we were fishing for. Using a variety of lures, some of the species we caught included Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth, Rock Bass, Yellow Perch, Pumpkinseed, Round Gobies, Black Crappie and even a Brown Bullhead (Catfish) I caught on a wacky worm!





One of the highlights though was Dad catching a Freshwater Drum, which he stalked dropshotting a Rage Critter on 8lb line! It gave him an unbelieveable fight, taking him under boats, jetties, then in to a massive weed bed, before the line suddenly went slack after grating on something. We thought the line had cut on some Zebra Mussels, and Dad put the rod down, crossed his arms and bent his head down in frustration. By this time a crowd of around 30 people had gathered behind us from the town and all sighed at the same time, as we thought he'd lost this fish. 30 seconds later I then spotted his line moving in the opposite direction, so he picked the rod back up, and amazingly it was still on! After another nerve-wracking few minutes, I finally managed to squeeze it in to our pan net, and the crowd let out a massive cheer!


That fish was caught on our last night in Kingston, and the next day we headed to Montebello in Québec for Musky and Longnose Gar. The route took us through Ottawa city centre, which is a spectacular looking city, and it’s amazing how, by just crossing the Ottawa River, which runs through the city, the language changes from English to French. Montebello is a small, quaint town situated roughly half way between Ottawa and Montreal, famed for having the world’s largest log cabin - the Fairmont Chateau Montebello.

Our first day’s guided fishing here was with John, targeting Musky. It took us a little while to get used to fishing with longer rods than we normally use here in the UK (which were 8’6”), and I can see why they use them, as the longer rod helps with the figure of eight, which is so important after every cast, and it’s something we're definitely going to try here in the UK.



It didn’t take long at all for us both to have a couple of follows from Muskies, but they didn't seem to want to take the lures. That continued throughout the day, as we had at least another 10 follows from Muskies, some of which were very big, and we both hooked fish - Dad hooked two (one was on a topwater lure which was a fantastic take) and I hooked one, but all three shook the hooks. John was saying that the Musky can be crafty, and even rub their lateral line along the lure to check whether it's a real fish or not. We did catch a couple of Ottawa River Pike though - they were only jacks, but they had beautiful markings.



Despite not landing any Muskies on day one, we were very confident one of us would at least catch a Musky on our remaining two days fishing with John. However…

So far on our trip, the weather had been fantastic, but that was all set to change, and we ended up having two days of record-breaking rainfall for the region. It meant we had to postpone a day’s Gar fishing we had booked and also one of the Musky days, but unfortunately, by the time the rain ended the Ottawa River had turned from clear to just a couple of inches of visibility - not good news for our Musky fishing.

On one of our days between fishing trips, we visited Parc Omega, which is a huge reserve for native animals that you can drive your car around, take a bag of carrots and feed the animals from the car! It was very interesting and a great laugh feeding them through the car windows, and I’d definitely recommend it. Only it's antlers stopped this Caribou from getting it's whole head in the car!


On the way back we also visited Plaisance Falls, which was pretty spectacular, especially after having so much rain. Unfortunately though, this was another place we intended to fish, but weren’t able to because of the coloured water and the incredible amount of water roaring through.


We were very lucky to have a break in the weather for our rescheduled day’s Gar fishing, with sunny, flat calm conditions forecast, and we were really looking forward to targeting them with Rob Jackson, who specialises in targeting them on the Ottawa River. RJ is also the host of Renegade Bass TV, a show dedicated to Bass fishing competitions in Canada. Longnose Gar are a smaller species than the Alligator Gar, growing to around 20lb, but found as far north as southern Ontario and Quebec. The way RJ fishes for them is by sight casting to them in very shallow water with shallow diving crankbaits, or flies.


Although the water was really murky in most places, it didn’t take long for us to spot our first Gar of the day basking in the sun, so I cast my 7cm Salmo Minnow to it, and not long after, my first Longnose Gar was in the net!


Then Dad spotted one almost immediately after releasing my fish, and caught that too, which was a very nice fish of 49”!


Gar are one of the few species you can cast to, draw the lure back towards the fish without spooking it, and as the lure swims past it's nose, the fish makes a complete u-turn and takes the lure, which was awesome to watch!

After such a great start, we decided to break out a fly rod. For this we used a 9’ 9wt, a floating line and a leader of around 7ft, and a bite tippet of 60lb fluoro, and tied to this was a yellow Clouser Minnow my Dad had used for fishing for Barramundi in Australia in stained water. Our next two chances both saw us land our first fly-caught Gar, and again, my Dad managed to land another good fish, slightly longer than the last one!




One more Gar later, the horizon turned black and a huge electrical storm started to loom towards us from the south west, which wasn’t forecast, so a decision was made to call it a day and head back to Montebello early. We were very lucky with that short window of perfect Gar conditions, as it absolutely threw it down for the rest of the day, but despite going home early, we had a great time fishing for them - they’re an awesome fish and very under-rated in Canada! Cheers RJ for a great day!

Now all eyes were on the Musky for our remaining two days with John. We were very unfortunate that the rain had coincided with our holiday and coloured up the river, and we had to dodge one or two very big storms whilst we were fishing too. There was one afternoon where a storm came up really quickly on us, with torrential rain and lightning, and as we were tying up the boat to a jetty, everything went white, the pressure dropped and I heard probably one of the loudest bangs I’ve ever heard. We ran to land and took cover under a hut, waiting for the storm to pass by, and when we came out there were some guys sitting in their Hummer waiting to launch their boat, who watched the bolt hit a tree on the bank of the island opposite us, which wasn’t too far away!


We went back out for another hour of fishing - this is the storm in the distance, after it had moved through.


During another storm, John welcomed us back to his Musky Den to take shelter. It was absolutely fascinating, with Musky lures and memorabilia hanging up everywhere, each with their own stories.



John did everything possible to help us catch a Musky, but unfortunately, the lack of visibility made the fishing extremely challenging, and when the conditions are against you, there’s not much you can do about it. It was a huge learning curve for us though, and I can now see why they’re called ‘the fish of 10,000 casts’ and why people become addicted to them! We had a great time fishing with John and I’m sure we’ll be back - we have unfinished business!


On our very last day, whilst packing to go home in the morning, we decided to have one more hour fishing just outside the hotel. We caught a few different species, and Dad’s last fish was a nice Smallmouth caught on a Salmo Rattlin’ Hornet - a great fish to round off the trip with.


We had an awesome time in Canada and managed to land 14 species between us in total. John, RJ and Dave are fantastic guides and if you’re interested in fishing in and around the Ottawa area, I’d highly recommend them. The people were friendly, the food was fantastic, and the wildlife was amazing too. And we didn’t even scrape the surface - an even better excuse to go back!

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!