Bob Roberts’ diary
I’VE not fished my favourite tench drain this season because it has been practically pumped dry by farmers irrigating the surrounding fields. Things are getting critical up and down the land and unless it rains soon we could be witnessing tragic events. Low flows and depleted oxygen levels are putting fish stocks at risk and there are reports of some small rivers drying up completely. These are worrying times. Let’s hope we get a mini-monsoon before my diary is published and please, think carefully about where you fish, what species you target and maybe leave that keepnet at home.
When the fishing is likely to be tough I’ll sometimes force myself to focus and try that little bit harder. Forty years ago when I was in the early stages of what even then appeared to be a steep learning curve, I’d stand knee deep in the River Idle and ask myself: ‘What would Kevin Ashurst do now? Would he be catching? What would he do to make something happen?’ It may sound a bit bonkers but it worked for me because I’d constantly be tweaking my tactics until something worked. And it still helps me, though I’ve moved on from looking to icons for inspiration. The River Trent was on its knees, low and stale; little was being caught and I had to choose between staying at home and watching the World Cup or working extra hard on the river for what might be scant reward. Of course, I chose the latter but came up with a challenging twist. I would take on the might of Russia. Yep, they would kick a ball around and I would fish, one barbel would equal one goal, let the best man win. I love listening to football while fishing. It’s something I’ve done since I was in my teens. They just go together. Bacon and eggs. Strawberries and cream. Football and fishing. While Russia had home advantage playing in St Petersburg I levelled the odds by choosing a favourite swim, one where I had previously never been beaten and only ever suffered one goal-less draw. The scene was set. I baited up with hemp and small pellets using a dropper and waited patiently for 40 minutes before casting out. Usually I catch a few chub first but they were not at home. The tip remained motionless. The first hour dragged by. Nothing. But 30 yards downstream I could see barbel crashing out of the water in what I can only describe as a complete snag pit. I could safely cast eight yards downstream but no further.
Another two hours dragged by with no indications and the game was soon due to start. I was hoping to get at least a goal ahead before they kicked off. No chance. Then Russia went a goal up. Desperation time. There was no point in baitdropping again. Nor was the feeder having any effect. So what to do? Catapulting handfuls of pellets or boilies can have a negative impact when the going is tough but I started thinking about pellet waggler fishing. The steady plip-plop of one or two pellets can create a reaction. Not enough to scare the fish but maybe enough to make them inquisitive. Russia go two-up. I’m now introducing two pellets, pause, two pellets, pause, one boilie. And so on... Russia go three-up! Nooooo.....!!! And then, out of the blue, my tip wraps round and, boy, does this fish not want to be landed. I’ve scaled down to a size 14 hook and the fish is stuck in some streamer weed. Somehow, I manage to free it without pulling the hook. Take your time Bob. With relief I watch it glide into the landing net. She’s probably a scraper double. Three-one! Could the comeback be on? Out goes the feeder again. Bang on the money and it hardly settles before the tip hoops over. The fight is just as hard as the last. Brutal stuff considering the small hook but I’m safely on my way to three-two with its identical twin. Well the game’s into the second half , just in the nick of time my rod comes alive and I’m in for a third time. The pressure is now on. I’m not just battling a fish, I’m taking on the whole Russian nation. I feel like Harry Kane lining up to take a penalty. Yes...!!!! Get in! Talk about feeling chuffed. What a comeback. A hat-trick of nine-pounders in the space of 45 minutes. And the whistle goes for full time.
opponent beaten Another tough Cup’ match in my ‘World 999 call. Oneofa ofnine- hat-trick pounder s