Fishing has been a part of my life from an early age. My Dad introduced me to angling and I quickly developed a passion for not only being out on the water fishing, but being outdoors. I have a fascination for catching different species of fish on lures or flies, and I’m as happy exploring the tiniest of streams as I am being out on the open ocean. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to some spectacular destinations, both here in the UK and abroad, trying to catch as many species as possible. So far, I’ve caught 228 species.

I work for Farlows fishing, shooting and country clothing store in London, and I’m a Consultant for Fox Rage and Salmo lures. I’m also an Ambassador for the Angling Trust and have fished for England in two disciplines - the England Youth Fly Fishing Team and the Team England Lure Squad.

Through fishing I’ve met some great people and seen some amazing wildlife and scenery, and I’d like to share some of my experiences through my blog...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Carp on the fly and trout matches

It's been a mad month since I last wrote on my blog - I think I've worn out my Dad travelling here and there practising for matches!

After fishing the Bob Church Open, my Dad was raring to get out on the water, so we returned to Grafham a couple of days afterwards. We started off targeting Perch, my Dad lost one, but by 11am we hadn't caught any more so switched to trout fishing. We soon got on the fish and a mini match began between the two of us - catching and releasing! We went on to land 83 trout, by far the most we've ever had from Grafham in a day - I had 42 and Dad had 41! It was fantastic sport and we think that we could have caught 100 if we'd have started earlier.

Every year we always have a few trips flyfishing for carp once the weather starts to warm up. Last year we did very well over a few short trips on some local gravel pits catching 34 carp in just a few trips and landing 7 twenties to 24lbs 5oz. This year we decided to go to our local lake, Rib Valley as the weather warmed up and try our luck there. We found some fish a couple feet under the surface but they still looked a little lethargic as the water temperature was only just starting to climb. After spending some time teasing them up with chum mixers, the odd fish gradually became interested in taking - mainly the bigger fish out of the shoal. Using one of his homemade flies that imitates a mixer, my Dad finally hooked in to and landed a nice 17lb 7oz Common. Half an hour later I lost a good fish too. My Dad has been fishing for Carp most of his life but really hooked on to targeting them with flies about 15 years ago. His experience paid off as he went on to bank another 5 up to 20lb 1oz. Not to be outdone, I also landed two more but lost another two, the biggest being 14lb 4oz - brilliant fun on an 8wt fly rod!

Since then, it's been all match fishing for trout. I fished in the Thames Water Shield match on Farmoor Reservoir on the 30th April. Many of the EYFA members fished in the match too, as all the money raised goes towards the team's fundings. It was a bank match so location was a key factor. As we had not fished it before, my Dad and I had travelled there four days earlier for an afternoon's fishing and found plenty of fish on the west bank, so that was where we headed. Unfortunately, it was much more windy than when we had fished it four days previously. The rest of the anglers had decided to fish where they had caught the year before and had done well, but we didn't know that. Dad had one on his second cast, but within the first hour the wind really blew up and we'd heard that the others were catching well on the opposite side, so we decided to move around. It was a bright day, so getting the fly out as far as you could in to deeper water was quite crucial. I fished a single booby for most of the day keeping it close to the bottom where the fish were. It was a tough day and the fishing wasn't easy, so you had to keep moving and finding fresh shoals of fish, and thankfully, I managed to bag up with just 20 minutes to go! I think I came about 10th place out of about 45 in the standings, as I only had an 8oz time bonus for bagging late-on. The winner was Kieran Bonas and the Youth Match winner was Adam Worker, both England Youth Internationals. Well done lads!

Afterwards there was nice buffet and Bernard Cribbins was there to present trophies. He did a great job making people laugh and also drew the raffle and hosted the auction after the match. He very kindly let my Dad take a picture of me with him...

Just 3 days later I'd planned to fish Rutland for half a day with Phil Longstaff, to practice for the Bob Church Classic on Wednesday 4th May. It had been fishing rock hard but with Phil's expertise of Rutland on-hand in the boat, I felt confident we'd bump in to one or two fish. We had to work hard to find them though, exploring most of the reservoir with just a couple of takes. We reached an area that Phil said he'd done well in in the past, and sure enough trout were there! In just two drifts we hooked 5 fish, so we left early that evening brimming with confidence and excitement that we'd found a good head of fish to help us out in the match on the day.

Sure enough, the fishing was no easier than the day before and many anglers struggled to catch fish. It turned out to be the worst rod average in the competition's 24 year history of 2.2. My boat partner and I headed to where Phil and I had caught our fish the day before, so as the gun to mark the start was fired we zoomed over there along with Phil and his boat partner who were quite near to us. I had one on my second drift but it soon switched off, and after a couple of hours it became apparent that it wasn't going to switch on like the previous day as we were hoping, so we decided to move. After trying many areas, methods and flies through the North arm I went 7 hours without a bite! For the last hour we returned to the area I'd caught from in the morning and managed to snatch one more on one of my last drifts on the hang, before it was time to go in. I ended up with 2 earning me 54th place out of 118 - not a great result but a brilliant experience and a match I'd love to fish again! The only person to bag up with 8 fish was Paul Shaw, who also won the match.

My last match, last Sunday, was a floating line challenge a bit closer to home - back at Rib Valley's Trout Lake with the Rib Valley Flyfishers. The rules were that we could only use 5 flies, which were all given to us in small packs, tied by Jeff Wilkinson of Razor Sharp Flies - and we could use only one dry of our own choice. This seemed to be the most popular of the flies as the trout were rising for mayflies. It was quite a difficult day, I caught 2 and came 8th out of 20 with a bag weight of 3lb 10oz. Dave Franklin, who also fished in the Bob Church Classic, won the match with 4 fish - well done Dave.

For much of the next 3 weeks I will continue trout fishing in preparation for more competitions that are coming up such as the National Championship and the Youth International, which I'm really looking forward to.

Until next time, Tightlines! - Sam