My latest Lockdown Q & A is with Matrix’s newest signing Sam Powell,
Hi Sam, many congratulations on signing to Matrix, well deserved, firstly can you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got into fishing and the first fish you caught?
Thanks Jamie. Hi everyone I’m Sam Powell, I’m 27 years old and I’m from the seaside town of Torquay but other people may know it as the English Riviera! I started fishing from a very young age probably 2 or 3 years old through my dad who is a keen angler himself but he errs more on the side of pleasure fishing instead of match fishing. I would say my first fish would have been either a small rudd or a roach on a whip with maggots but my dad isn’t a big fan of commercials so I was quickly fishing the local lakes at Rackerhayes for the large tench and bream or walking along the River Culm stalking for a chub or even a secret barbel!
My dad was a teacher so we used to spend almost every day in the summer holidays out fishing and even though the fishing was sometimes a little difficult I used to just love being out by the lakes and a bite just made it even more exciting. My favourite memories would be either a dawn or evening session fishing for tench and when the float goes under all hell would break loose as I’m almost being dragged in by this angry fish trying to make its way to a snag or a big weed bed. I didn’t realise how lucky I was to have been brought up with the access to these incredible lakes on my doorstep and spending almost all of my summers there. It certainly has made me a more rounded angler as I didn’t really start looking at commercials or matches until I was 16 or 17.
I don’t get to fish Rackerhayes as much anymore but due to the lockdown I have managed to get back there and have had some great sessions including a winter tench last month that was probably 6lb while fishing for roach and it brought back all the good memories that I had there as kid with my dad and reminded why I love fishing so much.
What’s your favourite style of fishing?
EDGE FISHING! There’s nothing better than watching some big tails swirling around your float and it disappearing at a million miles an hour and all hell breaking loose when you strike. It has got me out of jail so many times and I personally think on carp commercials that if you’re good at edge fishing then you don’t really need to do much else as the damage is always done in the last couple of hours when the fish decide to feed down the side. You can catch easily 100/150lb in the last couple of hours which means you don’t really need to have much in the net beforehand.
Your favourite venue?
Now that is a tough one as there is a few that spring to mind but I would have to say Bolingey. It’s one of the best carp venues in the country and every match I fish there I still get as excited as though it was my first match on there. It’s an incredibly special place and only the people that have fished Bolingey would understand that feeling. You feel very privileged when you are sat there fishing a match as it doesn’t happen very often. Also you won’t find many venues where the fish fight as hard as the fish at Bolingey!
Do you prefer natural or commercial venues?
That’s a tough question as I love both but I certainly prefer commercial venues for the convenience but there is nothing better than being sat out in the water at Porth on the White Acres festivals. I would say if natural venues were as easy to fish as commercials regarding access then I would probably pick natural venues but I love being able to park behind your peg at most places and not have to worry about a really long walk with all of your tackle. As we all know that we take far too much fishing gear with us and it also means your not rushing around to set up as you haven’t spent half the time getting to your peg!
And favourite fish?
Favourite fish I would have to say is the barbel. Before I got into match fishing I used to fish the River Culm and Bristol Avon for barbel and also had a few trips up to the Trent, Wye, Severn and the Warwickshire Avon with my biggest coming on the tidal Trent at just over 11lbs. It’s a shame that we don’t really have much barbel fishing down here in the South West as otters seem to have taken over and really now if I want to go barbel fishing it would have to be a trip up to the River Wye.
Obviously you’ve only recently signed for Matrix but which bit of kit are you most looking forward to getting your hands on and are there any exciting new releases due out soon?
All of the tackle I have received so far looks fantastic but I would say I’m most looking forward to getting my hands on the XR36 Pro Seatbox. That looks like a serious piece of kit! In regards to new releases, Matrix have just brought out their ready tied hooklengths which has just made my prep ten times easier but I’m sure there will be some exciting new releases coming out this year so you will just have to keep your eye out for them!
You’ve won loads of matches over the years, is there one that stands out that you are most proud of? And are there any matches you would love to win?
A match that always stands out for me was winning a match on Porth at the Milo Festival down at White Acres. I was probably only 20 and was still learning the place as had only been a handful of times but drew a great peg up in the 80’s, I think it was 87 but 88 wasn’t drawn! I struggled most of the day like everyone did in the bright hot conditions except for Des who was in my section and was putting on a masterclass of fishing for small skimmers on the pole. With less than an hour to go the bream turned up on my long pole line and I managed 6 bream for over 30lb. It was an incredible day and one I wont forget. Des certainly wasn’t too pleased come the end! I didn’t care though, I was on cloud nine!
A match I would love to win would have to be the Parkdean Final as qualifying is an achievement in itself as you have to get in the top 24 at the Preston Festival which is full of top quality anglers. The other big finals I would love to win as well but with 99% of qualifiers over 3 hours away in travel time I just can’t warrant putting that time in for such a small chance of reward. I would rather enjoy my fishing and just focus on catching loads of fish! You never know I may try and create something like the Fish North competition for people down in the South so we have something to fish for which doesn’t require 6 hours of travelling time.
Have you any angling heroes or was there someone who inspired you?
I don’t really have any angling heroes but there’s been a lot of people that have influenced and helped me along with my fishing. The first person that stands out the most is my dad who got me into fishing and took me all over the place when I couldn’t drive. I would be waking him up at 6am with a cup of tea so he could drop me off to a match or just so I could get out on the ponds nice and early, so I owe a lot to him as he would do anything to make sure I was fishing (I think he liked that I was outdoors and not sat inside on a games console!).
The second person needs no introduction but is my good friend Gary Webber. He took me under his wing when I first got into matches at 16/17 and drove me all over the place to different matches and has taught me a hell of a lot. He introduced me to the White Acres festivals and at that point I still couldn’t drive and he happily let me jump in with him and dropped me off to my section before having to make his way to his. He’s a fantastic angler but an even better person to sit down and have a beer with as he has some amazing stories to tell!
If you had a time machine is there one moment in fishing you wished you could go back and change? i.e. a big fish coming off at the net or a decision in a match that’s cost you the win?
Easiest question out of all of them for me! It would 100% be a match at Bolingey in a White Acres festival. If I won my section I knew I would win the festival overall and drew a great peg and should have certainly won. I made a couple of wrong decisions that day wasting too much time down the edge trying to catch big fish when I was getting plenty of bites on the long pole. I missed out on the section by 10oz which still hurts today especially as the peg that beat me had been terrible all week but a certain Des Shipp was sat on it! I’m sure if it was almost any other angler I’d have won that section but that is White Acres for you. Nothing is easy down there!
Aside from match fishing, have you or would you like to try other styles of fishing?
I would say the only fishing I haven’t tried is fly fishing for game fish. I’ve done a fair bit of sea fishing living 5 minutes from the beach and always loved trying to catch a mullet on a bit of bread. I also went through a stage of trying to catch pike and perch on the local ponds or rivers but never managed a pike of much size, I think my best was around 15lbs out of the River Parrett but I did catch a perch over 3lbs which for me was massive. One style of fishing I haven’t tried and will certainly look into when I have a bit more money is going fishing for marlin or big tuna, that looks incredible and I will have to tick that off my bucket list one day.
Have you got a tip that will help to put more fish in the reader’s nets?
That’s a tough question as it depends what you’re fishing for but I would say the biggest thing I improved on last year and it certainly helped me catch more fish is being patient. That sounds very strange when catching weights of 200/300lb but when its big carp that may average 10lb its really not as fast fishing as you think. Especially at places like Stafford Moor or Viaduct you see people after two or three hours almost giving up and chucking loads of bait in or chopping and changing methods every five minutes but when it comes to the time that the fish want to feed they have either fed too much bait and start foul hooking lots of fish or aren’t on the right method at the right time. Knowing the venue obviously helps but I would say stick with the methods you are confident with and be patient and when the last couple of hours come around and if you haven’t overfed your peg or tried 10 different lines you will be in a much better position to take advantage of the feeding fish.
And any advice on something fishing related that people can do while we’re all stuck at home at the moment?
Now the days are drawing out and matches are on the horizon I would say make sure you are prepped and ready to go. I am one of the worst for prep and try and put it off to the last minute and it’s something I’ve promised myself I will change this year. It’s certainly not the most interesting of tasks but it will catch you more fish over the summer. There’s not many top-class anglers that have poor prep as they know how important it is to be ready for any situation.
Before I let you go, here are a few quick-fire questions,
What’s your biggest fish?
Biggest fish is 21lb carp from the awesome Viaduct Fishery on Cary Lake.
Biggest match weight?
455lb from Campbell Lake at Viaduct Fishery. I had 11 keepnets in that day!
What’s your favourite drink?
Pint of Moretti!!
Would have to be a nice steak (medium rare) with a stilton sauce
What music do you listen to?
I’m not very fussy when it comes to music so I’ll listen to pretty much anything except classical and heavy metal!
Do you have any other interests/hobbies outside of angling?
I used to play football, golf and cricket but fishing already takes up a lot of time so it was impossible to keep them all up especially as I am working through some professional qualifications at the moment so I stuck with fishing and gave up the rest.
Thanks Sam hopefully we’ll get back on the bank and fishing matches again soon!
Against Men and Fish
*All images courtesy of Sam Powell