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, 23 December 2013

Fishing you a Merry Fishmas!

My Mum has always said that lures look like Christmas decorations. She shouldn't have said anything as this year we decided to have a change of baubles and covered the tree with lures!

If I could sum up the fishing over the past month for me and my Dad in just one word, it would have to be 'tough' - literally everywhere we've fished. The rivers, until recently, have been very low, with little flow. They've also been so clear that in some areas along parts of my local rivers, standing from the bank, if you're wearing polaroids, you could almost see the whole way across the river! That's obviously not the case now thanks to recent rainfall, but along with angling pressure, it's made the fishing challenging.

Thankfully we've caught a few nice fish though - in a short morning session one day, along with a few others, my Dad landed two lovely stripeys, both weighing 3lb 3oz, that he caught on Texas rigged Berkley Ripple Shads.

Recently we've also caught a few immaculate looking Chub too. Catching Chub on lures is normally best associated with the summer months, but this time of year we always seem to pick up a few, normally whilst targeting Perch and Pike.

I don't mind it when the fishing is hard because it challenges and forces you to try different tactics and lures, learning more and more after every trip. It also seems to fire my adrenaline further when we haven't had a great day to experiment with ideas that could flick the switch.

I've been trying a few new soft baits recently and one that has really stood out has been the Sébile A.T Minnow. When retrieved, it has a very subtle action that doesn't create as much vibration as many other shads, especially those with large paddletails, but it swims just like a Minnow and I think this is why it has been so effective for Perch, Pike and even Chub!

Our best trips this month have been afloat on the River Thames. On one morning we were struggling to find fish - I'd caught just two small Perch and Dad hadn't even had a bite, when at around 2pm, we came across a huge shoal of baitfish by accident! Sure enough, the predators weren't far away, and we started catching almost immediately. We then started to see silverfish scatter, with Perch and Pike boiling and thrashing in to fish - it was so exciting, just like watching a David Attenborough film! The best bit was when I saw a Zander, of around 5lbs, jump clean out of the water, right next to the boat, chasing fish! It was a real eye opener and amazing to watch!

We enjoyed ourselves so much that we couldn't help making the 1 hour 10 minute drive back to where we keep our boat the following afternoon. However, because of the fog and the traffic it took us nearly 2 and a half hours to get there the next day! It was well worth putting up with the journey though, as the action was just as good as the day before and in total, over two afternoon trips, we boated 60 Perch (nothing massive, the biggest was just under 3lbs), 5 Pike and my Dad also landed a cracking Chub just under 5lbs too!

A fortnight ago I fished in the Rib Valley Flyfishers Fur and Feather match held on their Millennium Lake. It was the first time I'd flyfished since August, so I wasn't too sure how I was going to fare! A real mixture of methods worked on the day and luckily I caught my four fish limit, and finished joint 8th - as four people all had a bag weight of 7lb 12oz! It was great to catch up with some good friends, and it was a really enjoyable day.

Yesterday I flyfished with the Pitsford Pirates at Elinor. I always enjoy fishing Elinor and at this time of year, the team normally like to get together and have a BBQ. I don't think I've ever flyfished in such windy conditions in this country! Casting in to the wind, where the fish were, was a nightmare - we all ended up just using one fly, under a bung. The fishing wasn't easy but we all managed to catch a few nice Rainbows. I like what fellow Pirate Bart said to us all - 'at least when you're fishing in this weather it makes you feel alive!'

Now the rivers are all high and coloured, it's a case of fishing reservoirs and gravel pits until they start fining down - then the conditions should be perfect for targeting all species. It's hard to put in to words how much I've enjoyed 2013 - I've learned so much, really enjoyed being involved with the Team England Lure Squad, Pure Fishing, the Pitsford Pirates and the charity Get Hooked on FIshing, and best of all I've made some great friends.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Ballan Wrasse - my 119th species on a lure!

Before heading out to Ireland for the World Championships last month, my Mum, Dad and I had planned to stay in Enniskillen for an extra couple of days after the event had finished. I don't often fish in the sea around the UK, so we thought it would be a nice change to fit in a few hours lure fishing along some of Northern Ireland's rocky coastline.

As it was our first time to Northern Ireland, before we crossed the Irish Sea I asked Mike Thrussell for some recommendations on where to fish, and he very kindly pointed us to an area around an hour's drive from Enniskillen, near Ballyshannon. To say it looked fishy was an understatement! Using Texas rigged and drop-shotted twitchtails and beetle grubs (similar to what we use for targeting Perch), we caught quite a few Wrasse and Pollack, nothing huge, in just a couple of hours. What was great was catching Ballan Wrasse, bumping my species tally caught on lures up to 119.

Some of the takes were really savage and I lost what I think was a nice Pollack, maybe 6lbs or so, which buried itself in the kelp and came off! It was great fun and we didn't want it to end - but luckily we had some good news on the way back to the car. I had a text from Irish Ferries saying that our ferry from Dublin to Holyhead the following day had been cancelled!  So we booked another night at the hotel.

The rain was very heavy and persisted for most of the following day, until around 3pm, so when the rain started to ease off my Dad and I grabbed the gear and thought we'd make the most of our last couple of hours in Ireland, and headed back to the same area. We experimented with lots of different baits that we normally use for Perch, and found the Berkley Havoc Grass Pig Jr worked really well, rigged on a 3/0 offset hook and fished Texas style, and we caught even more (and bigger, though not huge) Wrasse and Pollack.

The sea was so clear we were watching some of the fish fly out from the rocks and kelp and annihilate our lures! I'm really looking forward to spending some more time lure fishing along the coast. I'd certainly like to go back to Ireland again!

Since returning from the Emerald Isle, everywhere I've fished has been hard! I've had a few trips along my local rivers and on some local gravel pits, but they've all been slow, until the past week. I'm not sure why - it could be down to the milder than average temperatures we've had this Autumn, plus pressure, as everybody likes to get out and lure fish at this time of year, before it gets really cold.

On a recent outing to a local lake, targeting Pike, I only had one 'bite' all day. It wasn't a fish though - I reeled in my 7.5" Sébile Koolie Minnow to find a Crayfish wrapped around the crankbait! It was still trying to eat it even when I was holding it up for the camera! Both my Dad and I have caught Crayfish on small 2-4" jigs intended for Perch, and my Dad has even caught Mitten Crabs on the fly in the past from Walthamstow, but I'm not quite sure why this one decided to grab hold of something considerably larger than itself! It just goes to how big a fish they will attack.

Dad and I have had a couple of trips to Grafham targeting Zander, which has also not been easy! Normally after a few weeks of opening to lure fishing, it does start to fish harder after the fish have seen so many lures. We've caught a few Zander up to around 9lbs, along with some Perch, plus my Dad landed a cracking Brownie!

All of the fish we've caught recently from Grafham, including the Brownie, have fallen to drop-shotted Sébile Magic Swimmer Softs. I've been using these soft baits on a variation of the drop-shot rig that my Dad came up with a while ago, which has a stinger - it allows you to fish big baits without the fear of missing small 'plucks' or 'nips' from finicky fish, or Zander trying to stun their prey before they realise it's actually soft plastic. Saying that, all of the fish we've caught on the Magic Swimmer Softs recently have completely engulfed them, despite their size! They seem to work really well on a drop-shot rig.

Back in May, I was approached by Sean Eliis, the Essex R.O for the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain, to see whether I'd be interested in giving a talk. I'd never given a talk before, apart from at school or college, and I was a bit apprehensive at first because I haven't caught many anywhere near the size of what many seasoned Pike anglers catch, plus I'm more of an all round lure angler than a Pike specialist. Sean managed to sway me and 2 weeks ago I was at the Noak Bridge Inn near Basildon giving a talk! I really enjoyed it, and thanks to all of those who turned up, and I'd like to thank Sean for giving me the confidence to do it!

It was a good warm up, because 9 days later I was a guest on Keith Arthur's show, 'Tightlines', on Sky Sports! I've been watching the show for years, so to be asked on as a guest was a huge honour. To be honest, the hour went so quickly I didn't get through half of the gear I'd bought in to show. It was an amazing experience - a massive thank you to Keith, and Mick Brais, the producer!

Over the weekend we had some very cloudy, dull weather conditions, and the low light levels were perfectly suited for targeting Perch. We hadn't planned to fish over the weekend so it was a spur of the moment decision to head out on Sunday morning! I started with a Texas rigged Ripple Shad, which has been one of my favourite soft baits this year whilst Dad tried a Sébile A.T Minnow, which has only just come out in the past few weeks. On my very first cast I had a Perch of around 2lbs, which was quickly followed by another of 2lb 10oz.

As the day progressed though, Dad started getting more and more bites using the A.T Minnow, so I put one on. To cut a long story short, we ended up going back for a few more hours on the Monday and over two short afternoons, we ended up with 23 Perch, many of those weighing over 2lb 8oz, to a best of 3lb 9oz, and nearly all of the fish fell for Texas rigged A.T Minnows, with the exception of a couple of fish on small crankbaits.

I think the A.T Minnow could well become a new favourite!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The FIPSed 6th Carnivorous Artificial Bait Boat Angling World Championships

If there was one word to describe the experience of representing England in the FIPSed 6th Carnivorous, Artificial Bait, Boat Angling World Championships, it would have to be AWESOME! To fish against some of the world's best lure anglers, along with Team England - Matt Netherton, Gary Palmer, Evaldas Skablauskas, Eric Edwards and my Dad, was a huge honour.

The venue for the World Championships was Lough Erne, in Northern Ireland. The Lower and Upper Lough Erne systems, combined, are approximately 35,584 acres - that's 12 times the size of Rutland, with 154 islands. Some parts of the Lower Lough resemble the sea! Although we were only allowed in the match to fish an area around a third of the size based around Enniskillen, it was still a huge area to cover in two, 6 hour practice days. So to ensure we covered as much water as we could, Mike Skipper, the Team Manager, broke the match area in to three sections. Gary and Eric concentrated on the east side of Lower Lough Erne, Matt and Evaldas fished the west side of Lower Lough Erne, and my Dad and I covered the river from Bellanaleck to Enniskillen, along with the bottom section of Upper Lough Erne.

On the two practice days, my Dad and I fished the way we mostly fish, which is power fishing with soft plastics, crankbaits and spinnerbaits - trying to cover as much water as we could. Whilst I used lures that I was pretty sure would work, Dad was doing the experimenting and changing lures a lot more often than I was.

That way we were hoping to find out what was and wasn't working, and maybe find a lure that other teams weren't using that would be effective on the match days. Over the two practice days I caught 8 Pike and 8 Perch, and we'd worked out some good spots and tactics to approach both match days with.

The minimum length for Pike was 50cm, and 6 of those 8 Pike I caught were over 50cm, and the minimum length for Perch was 22cm, but only one Perch I caught was over that mark. So, with the way the points worked, it made more sense to fish for Pike. Gary and Eric had found Pike in deep water in the Lower Lough, so they headed there on match day 1, whilst Dad and I planned to fish upstream and fish some deep holes in the River Erne and a quiet bay, where we'd picked up some better Pike in practice.

The opening ceremony was held on Thursday night, and every team walked on stage in turn, whilst their national anthem was being played. They were then introduced by the team manager to the other competitiors. It was a very proud moment for all of us!

The atmosphere on the first match day was electric. All the boats were allowed to leave the pontoon at 9.30am, but fishing commenced at 10am.

There were two referee/marshall boats, one that headed downstream through Enniskillen to the Lower Lough, and one that went upstream. During the time period between 9.30am and 10am, you weren't allowed to overtake them otherwise the team would be penalised, so everybody was jostling for positions, tight behind the marshall boat, so when it did reach 10am, boats zoomed off in all directions, and for me it was one of the most exciting parts of the match!

On match day 1, Eric and Gary landed 2 Pike over the 50cm mark. My Dad and I had a slow start at our first spot, which the French also fished with no joy, but at around 11.30am we moved to a deep hole in Tamlaght Bay and I quickly landed the first Pike of the day at 65cm. From there, the fishing seemed to improve for us, and after trying a couple more areas, and returning back to the bay, we landed another 7 Pike - 4 of those came in the last three quarters of an hour. We ended the day with 8 Pike and a Perch, though only 5 Pike were over the 50cm minimum size. One of my Pike was 49.75cm!! How close is that?!

After day 1, England were placed in 6th, and my Dad and I were in 5th place individually. Team England were all feeling confident of a good second day, but things didn't go quite to plan…

Gary and Eric had a major problem. They'd planned to fish in the Round 'O' on the river in Enniskillen town centre first, before heading back on to the Lower Lough. However, there are some sluice gates further downstream and on the Saturday night they had been shut without any of the competitors knowing. This caused the river to stop flowing, and it had a great effect on the fishing. They caught 3 Pike between them, however one was undersize.

Our game plan was to head straight back to where we'd caught 4 Pike from in the last three quarters of an hour of day 1, as we felt really confident we'd catch some more there. Unfortunately, another boat followed us to the same area, but they did leave within about half hour having not caught. I had one Pike there and Dad missed a couple of plucks, but my fish was undersize. We moved on upstream to another hole in the river that drops to over 40 feet deep, where there were plenty of baitfish, and where Dad had caught two Pike on day 1 of the match. On his very first cast Dad landed a Pike, but again it was undersize. By about 2pm we were struggling for bites, and in a nutshell, the fishing became really tough. After trying a few more spots we headed back to Tamlaght Bay, which had produced well for us on the afternoon of day 1, hoping a rest during the day would have helped the fishing. It was still really hard though - what was good timing was when Andy Ford and the camera crew from Sky Sports turned up in their boat to film us, and I hooked and landed a 59cm Pike whilst the cameras were rolling! But that was the only other bite we had all day.

After the match had ended, the atmosphere remained very tense as the teams awaited the final results at the presentation. In the team event, first place went to Italy, second place was awarded to Russia, and in third place was Romania.

The individual champions were Janas Prialgauskas and Vladas Valukonis of Lithuania, runners-up were Alexey Shanin and Alexander Panchekhin of Russia, and third place were Jacek Gorny and Tomasz Kurman of Ireland. Congratulations to them all!

The presentation was followed by an amazing closing ceremony, then it was a night of Irish dancing and music, delicious food, and lots of banter (especially between England and the Irish!!) which everyone really enjoyed. A lot of the teams gave gifts to each other, which was very kind of them, so a big thank you from Team England!

I must also say a few more thank-you's before I end this post. Firstly, to Mike Skipper, for choosing us to be part of the Team England Lure Squad. Secondly, our guide and steward Geoffray Begard, who was fantastic company throughout the 2 days practice and the match days. Others I'd like to thank are Grantz clothing, for making the team some quality t-shirts, hoodies, fleeces and caps to wear; Mark Houghton for making every team member a crankbait with the Team England Lure Squad logo and our name on each, as a momento; Lynx for supplying us with traces; Savage Gear with waterproofs, and Parmaris with lifejackets.

The Irish were fantastic hosts - the venue they'd chosen for this World Championships and the Killyhevlin hotel, including the evening entertainment and food, couldn't have been any better.

In the short space of time Team England have been together, we have all gelled so well and it was a horrible feeling for us all when the results were not what we'd hoped. I think England's final placing mainly boils down to not having enough knowledge of the venue. Some of the top teams had already ventured out months ahead and practised, namely the winners Italy, runners-up Russia and last year's world champions Ukraine. But due to the team being put together fairly late and not having the funds, we just weren't able to. What we have to take from this experience is that we have all learnt so much about fishing in a Lure Fishing World Championship. It was England's first time, as well as France's debut, and both teams finished 12th and 13th respectively. I really don't think we're far off the other teams though, and England will put everything we've learned from this World Championship to use next year.