My Fly fishing Journey – Samantha Edmunds, England Fly Fishing International Angler
England International Samantha Edmunds shares her fly fishing journey, which has seen her fish for England Ladies and be crowned National Champion in 2018.
My fly fishing journey began on a sunny Sunday afternoon five years ago. I was at a local river fishing with my now husband Rob and his children, Daisy and Albert. I had been warned by my (now) father-in-law not to let on to the kids that I didn’t like maggots. That was an understatement! I couldn’t stand maggots. I am an Environmental Health Officer so hygiene is a bit of an obsession and maggots were not something I ever intended to come into contact with. I watched Daisy who was eight at the time slipping maggots on hooks as I thought to myself, oh dear, I really am going to have to touch a maggot. So I breathed in, picked one up, prised it onto the hook and surprisingly I didn’t die. The maggot did though!
And so it began. A while later we took the kids sea fishing to the east coast in late October. Launching the lead weights into the sea was fun and it was even more fun when I was ahead of Albert, (we are both hugely competitive). Rob didn’t expect me to enjoy it and thought I would grumble about the cold but it was good, something different and I liked beating Albert and being out in the fresh air.
First Steps At Ravensthorpe Reservoir
Soon after I asked Rob if I could have a go at fly fishing, just to see what it was like. I wasn’t really sure how I would get on in a boat as I had always been travel sick before, but I’d give it a go. When we arrived at Ravensthorpe Reservoir my husbands’ friend, James, announced that he would fish with me. When I first met Rob I had been quite dismissive of fishing, as I thought there really wasn’t that much to it and didn’t get why anyone would just sit there waiting for a fish. I soon discovered how wrong I was. I caught a rainbow trout on that very first trip and was literally hooked. During the next few months the men looked after me, setting my rod up and tying my flies on but I soon got fed up of that and wanted to do everything myself. There was so much to learn and casting and driving the boat were the most difficult challenges. I was soon fishing every Saturday and James became and still is, my regular boat partner. It’s been great for my development fishing with men, as Rob and James have been quite hard on me at times. I’m not the sensitive type and we are all still friends despite some colourful language and even tears at times. In that first few months at Ravensthorpe I caught my biggest rainbow trout to date, at 9lb 14oz. At the time I didn’t think it was such a big deal as a fish is a fish right? Only now do I understand how rare it is to catch a big resident fish, (the fish was safely returned).
I never in my wildest dreams expected to love fishing, but I do. I find it addictive and sometimes when I am falling to sleep I get that feeling that you get when a fish takes your fly. Only people that fish would get this, anyone else would likely think I am totally nuts.
In 2017 I entered the English Ladies National which is the qualifier for the England Ladies team. I was ridiculously nervous on the morning before the competition. Rob is well known in the world of angling so I didn’t want to let the side down and I didn’t feel I had enough experience at driving the boat. As it turned out I drove the boat all day as the England Manager announced to me just before the match “Sam you are fishing with Patricia and you will be ok driving the boat won’t you”? I had a lovely day and learned a valuable lesson. I caught two fish in the first hour and as I hooked the third it jumped into the air and I saw it was a decent size. I was using a new stiff rod that would allow me to cast further. I had wanted to use a more flexible rod because my regular boat partner had convinced me that I loose more fish when playing them with the stiff rod. Unfortunately Rob had broken my flexible rod the day before the match. So I was very very careful playing the fish. I got the fish in the net then I looked at my boat partner and said “I thought I was going to loose that”, when I looked back to the net the fish had gone! So the lesson was not to take my eyes off the fish until it’s in the boat. I allowed myself to be gutted for about three seconds then I pushed it out of my head and moved on. I knew if I didn’t it would affect my game for the rest of the match. I was thrilled to come third in the match and have never been that nervous since.
The next challenge was representing England in the 2018 International in Wales at the beautiful Clywedog Reservoir. This week was one of my favourite weeks of all time.
The next challenge was representing England in the 2018 International in Wales at the beautiful Clywedog Reservoir. This week was one of my favourite weeks of all time. It was very full on, fishing every day for eight hours but I loved every minute of it. On the day of the match each team lined up and walked down to the water while a piper played. It was a very emotional experience but as soon as I got in the boat it was time to focus. The match initially didn’t go to plan as my boat partner insisted we try areas where there were not a lot of fish. I did manage to catch but moved us to better fishing areas when I was in control of the boat. The Welsh team took gold and England followed closely with silver. I came fourth individually and Rob attests that this was the best performance of my career so far.
2018 Ladies National
The 2018 English National was held at Eyebrook Reservoir, which I had only fished once before. I practiced hard to familiarise myself with the water and find the right method. My boat partner for the day let me take the engine and dictate the boat position. I knew from practice that there were plenty of fish in a particular area. However I knew there was another spot with much bigger fish that only fed intermittently so I took a risk and started there. On the first drift knew I had made the right choice and I caught my bag limit in less than an hour and a half. Other ladies caught their bag limit as the day progressed however their fish were smaller. After the match the weigh in was tense however my decision to target the bigger fish paid off and I was declared the 2018 Ladies Champion.
So what is next in my angling journey? The International this year is to be hosted by England and will be held at Draycote Water in Warwickshire the first week of June. We have a strong team with a mix of both experience and youth – my next goal is to win the gold!
Samantha Edmunds is the 2018 England Ladies National Champion. A newcomer to fly fishing Samantha likes to fish the midlands reservoirs and will be part of the England Ladies team at Draycote Water in 2019.