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, 30 November 2015

Reaping havoc with the Rocket Craw!

November can be a funny month for fishing - sometimes it can be really good for freshwater predators, and then on other years it can be really tough. It was definitely the latter for me and my Dad last year and the year before, and the way our fishing was going at the beginning of the month, it looked like this November would be a repeat of the previous two.

However, this month has turned in to a really good one, especially for Perch, and I think it was helped by the sudden drop in temperature just over a week ago that I think triggered fish in to going on the feed, after an unseasonably warm month.

Most of our trips at the beginning of the month were on reservoirs such as Pitsford, Farmoor and Grafham, before the windy conditions moved in - I wish it would calm down soon! We targeted the Pike on Pitsford and had a very tough day - we actually caught more Perch than Pike, despite mainly using lures over 5" in length (and some nice ones too, up to 2lb 10oz), but our only Pike, which Dad caught and was probably around 7lb, was the only one caught on the reservoir all day, between 5 boats!

A few weeks ago, I took a volunteer helper at Get Hooked on Fishing, Harry Theobald, to Grafham. I've been meaning to fish with Harry for months, and this was his first time fishing from a boat on a reservoir. Harry, along with his mate Luca Castello, are both really starting to get in to their lure fishing, which is great to see. We really wanted to help Harry catch his first Zander, and we thought we were going to have no problems catching one as Dad hooked and lost a very good fish right at the start of the day, but unfortunately, it turned in to a very hard trip for the Zeds, but we caught plenty of Perch up to 2lb 4oz.

Right at the death, Dad caught our only Zander of the day, which was around 3-4lbs. We all had an enjoyable day, but Dad and I were a bit upset we couldn't help Harry catch his first Zed.

We had another trip back there, but despite catching nearly 50 fish, not one of them was a Zander! I've never known Grafham to produce so many Perch - even the stripeys we were catching were coughing up smaller Perch in the 3"-4" range. Many of the Perch I caught drop-shotting a 105mm Sébile Magic Swimmer Soft in Perch.

A couple of weeks later we met up with Harry again at the Uxbridge Rovers Lure Day on their section of the River Colne, Grand Union Canal and their lake at Batchworth. This is the second lure day Dad and I have kindly been invited to by organiser Kevin O'Shaughnessy, but unfortunately, on each occasion, we've had heavy rain either on the day or the day before, which has coloured up the river, as well as the canal and lake! We still had an enjoyable afternoon though, catching 2 Pike to around 6lbs and 3 Perch, mostly on the white Berkley Havoc Rocket Craw. A big thanks to Kevin and the rest of the Uxbridge Rovers for inviting us along!

The Uxbridge Rovers are also fantastic supporters of Get Hooked on Fishing, and keeping on the subject of the charity, at the end of last month we held 'have a go' sessions at the GHoF/Walthamstow Academy for two days. Crystal clear water and two cold nights before the sessions made the fishing difficult, but every family, bar one, caught at least one fish, including the Furne family, who caught the most species - and Mum Michelle caught the biggest fish of the two days! A massive thank you to Jonathan Fromant, Ben Bradley, Cliff Cardy and Dad for giving up their time and volunteering to help out!

On the same week as the Uxbridge Rovers Lure Day, Dad and I fished Rib Valley targeting Pike for a feature for LURE magazine, with editor Steve Phillips. It was one of those days when you're grateful for having good waterproofs, as it was raining quite heavily when we started at 7am, and didn't stop until 2pm! There was one short spell where I caught a Pike and a Perch in the morning, then we went around 3-4 hours without a bite. However, when the rain did stop, the whole lake switched on - Carp started boshing and bubbling up, silverfish started topping and the Pike woke up too. We were hoping for a few more fish, but we caught on a variety of different types of lures and Dad ended the day with a 13lb 6oz. The next issue, LURE 5, is out tomorrow, and contains the feature - you can find it by clicking here.

Since then, the fishing seems to have picked up wherever we've been, and one of the lures that worked that day was the Berkley Havoc Rocket Craw, and it has probably been my most successful soft bait this past month. It worked well on a trip to the River Thames on our boat, helping us catch over 70 fish - a mixture of mostly Perch, but a few Pike too. Dad unfortunately lost two big fish that day, one of which he hooked around an hour in to dark in one of the big weir pools on a chatterbait - it was quite a sizeable fish and we think it was either a big Zander, or possibly even a Catfish!

As the month has progressed, we've caught some nice Perch from our local rivers, although the last fortnight has been especially good. It started after a tough day fishing one weekend, but right at the end of the day I managed to land a 3lb 4oz stripey on the Rocket Craw.

It was almost pitch black by the time I'd caught this fish and we didn't get time to really fish the area I caught it properly, so a couple of days later, we returned to the same area for the last two hours of light. The fishing was quite tough - it was very windy and it was hard to feel what was going on, but as the light faded Dad picked up a nice Perch of 2lb 5oz. About 15 minutes later Dad struck in to something, which at first he thought was a snag, as it was so windy, but then it started head shaking and gave him a good fight! It turned out to be an immaculate looking Perch, which was very lightly hooked, and the lure he caught it on - a chatterbait, rigged with a Havoc Pit Boss trailer, fell out in the net just after we landed it. It weighed 3lb 15oz (46cm), which is the fourth different Perch weighing 1oz under 4lb we've caught this year, and Dad's 100th Perch weighing over 3lb!

Three days later we returned to a different area of the river, again for the last couple of hours. My first fish of the day was a 2lb 10oz stripey, and using the Rocket Craw rigged on a Shaky Head, I managed to catch another 4 Perch, with the biggest weighing 3lb 12oz (48cm).

We kept a close eye on the weather that week, and with temperatures forecast to drop 10°C in the coming days (with snow even predicted!) we decided to have one last trip to another stretch of river, this time for a few hours in the morning, before the cold weather kicked in. Almost as soon as we started, Dad, who was about 30m upstream of me, had a huge Trout follow his crankbait in. When I went over to see how he was getting on, he told me he reckoned it was 8lb. To be honest, I found this hard to believe, but as I stood talking to him, the fish followed him in again, and I could see what he meant - it was certainly big!

After a few more casts in this swim with no luck, Dad moved upstream whilst I moved in to his swim to try the Rocket Craw. Moments later I heard commotion and splashing, as Dad had hooked the Trout - the fish had followed him in again and took the crankbait right at his feet!

It turned out we'd both underestimated the size of the fish - it was 65cm long and very deep, and when put on the scales it weighed a whopping 8lb 10oz!

About an hour later, he then caught another, this time weighing 4lb 15oz! It's amazing how different each Brownie looked - the first was silvery, almost like a Sea Trout, whereas the colours on this one were very vivid.

I persisted with the Rocket Craw hoping it would produce some Perch, and thankfully I didn't have to wait too long before I found some fish, landing Perch of 2lb, 2lb 1oz and 3lb 1oz - not a bad way to end the morning and be home by 10.30am!

Whenever I go fishing on my birthday, I have a horrible knack of blanking! In fact, the only fish I'd ever caught on my birthday was a Sturgeon when I was 8! Last Monday was my 21st birthday and although I couldn't fish all day due to work (and opening cards and presents!), I did manage to get out for the last couple of hours to try and put my run of birthday blanks to bed!

The cold weather forecast had kicked in though and the fishing was very different to our last trip, and we hadn't had a bite after two hours of fishing - maybe it was because the fish knew it was my birthday! Anyway, I thought I would be doomed for another year, but on my very last cast of the day, the Rocket Craw came to the rescue and I hooked in to a fish, which turned out to be a good Perch. I thought it may break the 3lb mark, but coincidentally, it weighed 2lb 11oz - containing both numbers of my birthday, so I was more than chuffed!

That fish rounded off a fantastic and special three days, celebrating with friends and family. I still haven't cut the cake though yet, and I'm not sure if I want to!

Friday, 23 October 2015

FIPSed 8th Carnivorous Artificial Bait Boat Angling World Championships, Lake Viljandi, Estonia

I can't believe the Lure Fishing World Championships in Estonia was a month ago! Unfortunately, we didn't do too well, but I've written a short summary to give you an idea about how Team England's trip went and what the fishing was like.

Lake Viljandi in Estonia was a very different kind of water to Lac Bourget in France, the venue where last year's World Championships was held. Bourget is 11 miles long and 2 miles wide, while Viljandi is only 2.75 miles long and a quarter of a mile wide at it's widest point, and with 50 odd boats all lure fishing for Pike and Perch, it didn't take long for angling pressure to affect the fishing.

All of the fish that were caught were very small - the biggest Pike caught by any team during the whole competition was just 61cm! The minimum size for Pike was 45cm and the minimum size for Perch was 23cm, and many of the fish we caught were, frustratingly, millimetres undersize, and as the days progressed, the fish became harder and harder to catch.

To give you an example, during practice, we managed to find Pike in and around the reeds that fringe most of the lake, and on the two practice days the team managed to catch at least 5 measurable Pike up to 48cm on Texas rigged soft plastics, as well as measurable Perch in the deeper water on smaller lures.

We felt confident for the first match day, but unfortunately, the 6 Pike that the team caught on match day one were all undersized and our only Pike on match day two measured 44cm - just 1cm under!

Most of the Perch seemed to be sitting in the deep holes in the middle of the lake, and on match day two, Eric Edwards and I caught Perch of 22.7cm, 22.5cm and various 22cm fish - you just needed a stroke of luck that whatever fish you hooked was just a few millimetres longer! We caught around 23 Perch over the two match days, but out of all of those fish, just six were measurable - the biggest measuring 28cm.

The local countries had it sussed though and it was Lithuania who took team Gold, and Russia had the individual honours, so a massive congratulations to them.

Our final placing was, unfortunately, far from what we'd hoped - 13th out of 16 teams. Estonia was quite different to any place I've ever been to in the world - the surroundings were very scenic, especially around the lake and the town of Viljandi, and the people were very friendly, and a massive thank you to the hosts for putting on such a great event. Also, a big thank you to our sponsors - Sovereign Superbaits, Snapbaits, Currock Engineering, Lure Factors, Angling Direct, OMG Custom Plastics and Vass.

You can see more photos of the World Championships on my Flickr page, by clicking here.

A few days after returning from Estonia, our local Rib Valley opened for lure fishing, and although we'd hardly sorted any gear after returning home, we decided to get up at the crack of dawn and fish. It was a bright, sunny day - not the best conditions for targeting Pike and Perch in a gin-clear gravel pit, so, as it's on our doorstep, we headed home for a few hours during the middle of the day to catch up with some work. We returned for the last couple of hours of light, and using dull curtails, shads and chatterbaits, we managed to bank 8 Pike and 21 Perch between us.

The rest of our fishing this month has been spent wandering along our local rivers fishing short afternoon/evening sessions. After our trip to Rib Valley we had a couple of days of heavy rain, which topped up the rivers and also gave them a bit of colour - perfect conditions for big Perch. On our first evening fishing, I lost a very big Chub (which I think would have beaten my P.B.), but 20 minutes later I felt much better, after landing a stripey weighing 3lb on the nose. It took a white Berkley Havoc Rocket Craw, which has worked really well since we've been back.

This photo shows another one of my favourite Rocket Craw colours - Bama Bug.

The colour dropped out very quickly and by the time we had our next trip two days later, the river was gin clear. We'd had a fairly quiet afternoon with a few small Perch and an even smaller Pike around 4" long, and a follow from a better stripey which I'm guessing was around 3lb, but as the light faded, I changed to the white Rocket Craw that I lost the Chub and caught the 3lb Perch on the previous trip. It was overcast and became dark very quickly, and not long before calling it a day, Dad came up to me and told me that, despite the very low light levels, he thought my white Rocket Craw was too bright in the gin clear water, and as he told me this I had an almighty whack and hooked and landed a Perch of 3lb 15oz! When he netted it, I turned round to him and said "sorry, what did you just say?!" I was chuffed to bits with the fish but, frustratingly, it's my third different Perch weighing an ounce under 4lb this year!

The Rocket Craw, this time in another of my favourite colours, Breen Clear Chartreuse, worked well the following evening too, finding a shoal of Perch that produced fish to 2lb 5oz, then after a few casts without any bites, it was time to try the drop-shot. Two casts later I had a 3lb 4oz in the net, caught on a Berkley Twitchtail Minnow!

We've had a few more evening trips since and although the fishing has got progressively harder (my local rivers are almost as clear as I've ever seen them) creature baits have been working well, producing plenty of 2's to just under the 3lb mark.

I must admit though, I'm now looking forward to venturing a bit further afield and getting back on the Thames and the reservoirs, and hoping for some big Pike and Zander!

Lastly, a couple of months ago Vince Williams from the Oxfordshire region of the Pike Angler's Club of Great Britain invited me to give a talk, which I really enjoyed giving last week. I'd highly recommend anyone to go along to one of their meetings - it's a really friendly evening. For their next meeting on Thursday 26th November, the speaker is Phil Smith - a top all-round specimen hunter.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

September stripeys!

September is an exciting time of year for the lure and fly angler. As temperatures begin to cool, predatory fish go on the munch, and it also coincides with the opening of many of the midlands reservoirs for lure fishing. Rutland and Grafham both opened for lure fishing on August 31st this year, but my Dad and I were able to fit in a couple of trips flyfishing beforehand, in between a busy period of Family Fishing days, which I'll talk about later. Grafham seems to be producing more small Zander this year than I've ever known, although on our last trip flyfishing there a few weeks ago, on his fourth cast of the day, Dad landed a good fish on one of his 'Zander Lander' flies.

Shortly after, I also caught my first fish of the day - a Perch measuring 51cm! You would have thought a fish of this length would probably weigh 4lbs, but it was quite an old fish and weighed 3lb 6oz.

The summer holidays is the busiest time of year for Get Hooked on Fishing, and the 'Family Fishing' days, run in conjunction with the Angling Trust, have been huge successes. The last week or so of the summer holidays were particularly busy, with events at Suffolk Water Park, Shuttleworth College's Middle Lake, and GHoF's projects at Rib Valley, Walthamstow and Ealing.

There were a couple of highlights for me that week, and the first was at the Family Fishing day at Shuttleworth. When young Joshua Cobbs' float slid under for the very first time, I don't think he could quite believe what was pulling on the end of his line! After an amazing fight and brilliant team work between Joshua and my Dad, they managed to land this beautiful 19lb 3oz Mirror Carp on 4lb line and a size 14 hook! Not bad for your first ever fish!

On the Saturday of the August bank holiday weekend, GHoF held a second Family Fishing Day at Rib Valley. We were very lucky with the weather and plenty of fish were caught, including some nice Perch on lures and Roach to nearly 1lb to those fishing the whip! It was a very busy day, but it couldn't have happened without the support of our volunteers, so a massive thank you to them, and also to Keith Arthur and Sarah Collins! It was then off to Ealing the following day for another successful Family Fishing day, and over the course of the weekend, GHoF introduced just over 300 people to fishing.

Our next fishing trip was back on Grafham, for the first day of the lure fishing season on there. Sadly, the weather was awful, with heavy, persistent rain and strong winds all day, which made it hard to target the Perch and Zander we were set on fishing for. At 3pm we were both so soaked (even through Gore Tex jackets), we had to go in and change clothes! Thankfully, we had some spare waterproofs, but unfortunately, we didn't catch many more fish before it was time to head in!

We returned to Grafham a couple of days later after all our clothing and gear had dried out, and this turned out to be a much better day. We caught from many different areas, but we did find a big shoal of small Zander, which was great fun.

We caught most of our fish jigging, but we caught a few fish drop-shotting too, including the biggest Perch of the day, which weighed 3lb 6oz (49.5cm). Dad was unlucky though, as he hooked in to a Perch of a similar size at the same time, but his one came off as we netted mine! We ended the day boating 58 zeds, 16 Perch and a Pike.

Apart from one other trip to Grafham, the rest of our fishing has been based on local rivers targeting Perch, practising and trying out new lures in preparation for the Lure Fishing World Championships in Estonia next week. They've been working well, and my Dad even managed to catch this nice Roach on one of the lures we've been experimenting with, which the fish took on the drop!

On one recent evening trip, we'd been fishing for around an hour without any bites, then, as I was lifting my Sébile A.T Minnow out of the water ready to make another cast, six or seven Perch, all well over 2 and a half pounds, followed me in and literally started rolling and boiling around the lure, fighting over the shad! It was incredible to watch - almost like they were in a frenzy, like Tuna smashing in to bait balls. This 3lb 1oz beat the others to it, but there were bigger ones that I just missed out on!

After an unsuccessful attempt at relocating and catching them the following evening, my Dad and I had our last outing before the World Championships along another stretch of river. The afternoon was going well, catching plenty of Perch to 2lb 5oz and a jack Pike, but after a few hours in one area, we decided to have a change of scenery and try a different section of river where we've caught some big fish in the past, often in the last hour of light. It turned out to be a good move, as Dad's last fish of the day was a chunky 3lb'er.

We're now just finishing the last bit of packing before our flight to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, tomorrow. Somehow, all the gear has managed to fit in the cases, but I'm not sure how we'll get it in to Eric's car to get to Gatwick - we may have to put my Mum on the roof rack!