RATHER than just go and wet a line myself this week, I wanted to see what goes on behind the scenes during a fishing video. I’m usually on the receiving end these days of the photographer and videographer’s curse! But the urge to fish is usually too tough, especially when I’m behind James ‘Swampy’ Robbins. You see, James Robbins is an
awesome angler. You probably saw his fine effort late last year for Angler’s Mail with a pole-feeder. Yes, a pole and a feeder, on a proper river, the Wye. When it was flooded, too. I think I would pay to watch him, he is that good. He’s a really knowledgeable all-round angler from whom I have learned a lot over the years. Although he may be a wizard,
this tale is not quite in the realms of Harry Potter… but it certainly proved entertaining. We were fishing on a stretch
of the River Avon at Barford, and we had decided to leave a swim vacant for a while, as we had trickled down a few bits of bread earlier in the day, to generate a bit of interest from resident chub. It was a ‘leave alone’ peg, whilst James got his make-up on and did some ‘Sollywood’ filming (that’s Shakespeare-Hollywood!) for the hugely
informative YouTube channel,Shakespearefishingtv.
However, all of the commotion of a big budget production did nothing for the chub fishing, hence the stealthiness of two grown men skipping down the bank… for a laugh! The Tree of Death Whilst ‘Spielberg’ Chappy and ‘Brad Pitt’ Robbins, did their pieces to camera, I had to wait, patiently and look at the swim
with horror. This was no ordinary swim; smack in the middle of the peg
was THE TREE, made notorious by James, as had named it ‘The
Tree of Death’. Disaster awaits the fool who flirts with The Tree of Death. I was given the job of ‘fluffer’! Fortunately, my services weren’t
It is a tree so fierce it could tangle a freelining rig; a tree with the capabilities of ruining a man’s day, week, or maybe year. It’s a nasty tree, just out to get you! All day I had my ear bitten off. “Whatever you do, Steve, do NOT strike into the tree of death, and watch it when you are casting, too!” James constantly reminded. “Steve. The tree. Stay out of it. Don’t strike up.” “Okay, okay. I hear you.” On every run down with my float, I heard: “Steve, watch out for ‘The Tree of Death’!” “I know,” I replied. “I’ve got the message.”
Then again: “Steve… the tree!” You get the idea. James had my welfare at heart, and he didn’t want me to embarrass myself by getting tangled in the death tree, because once you’re in it, you’re never coming out!
Sure enough, I held back, under the watchful eye of ‘Swampy’, as he is widely known I had a few runs down, but something wasn’t right. The flow was taking me into the bank, and with an overhead cast proving difficult due to ‘TTOD’, equally tricky would be catching a chub. James expertly told me to cast further across the flow, almost to the other bank, and let the float work over a gravel patch 25 yards
downstream. This is where they lived, according to James.
As soon as an angler of his calibre tells me this, I listen. I’ll copy, I’ll steal his knowledge. I’d be an idiot to pass up on these wise words. Sure enough, I held back, under the watchful eye of
‘Swampy’, as he is widely known in match circles, and guided my float to the exact spot that he had told me to be in. “They hide there,” he whispered. “But whatever you do, don’t strike into the ‘The Tree of Death’!” With my lump of bread enticingly floating underneath a few AA shot, it seemed like an age until it got into the spot. I held back as James had said, and then let the rig go again. This time it fell just beyond the gravel bed, and no sooner had James
whispered: “There has to be one there, mate!” the float went under and I struck.
The first thing that James did was look up. To his amazement I was not attached to ‘The Tree of Death’, but I was attached to a very angry chub. After a short battle – come on, I’m 6 ft 2 in. and far too heavy; it’s only going to be short – my prize for avoiding ‘The Tree of Death’ was in the net. And what a prize it was – a stunning example of a winter chub, not a scale out of place, and built like a brick poohouse! I was absolutely delighted by this fish, not really for myself, but for James. He had told me exactly what would happen, and it had. Within seconds of unhooking this stunning fish, it was James’s turn, and have a guess what… he went straight up ‘The Tree of Death’!
Laugh? Chappy and I nearly wet ourselves. After constantly telling me about it, straight away James was stuck fast in it – game over. “Did I forget to tell you about that tree?” I chuckled. Anyway, I had chub to catch, but also I had come to see James doing what he does in his ‘proper’ job, working for Shakespeare and developing product, and he was also making one of his very well received videos with the ‘Chapmeister‘ himself.
Chappy is the man who makes us all come across as wonderful. He is a bit bossy, but I suppose he has to be with renegades like us pair! James was out testing a new reel that he had developed, putting it through its paces by making sure that line lay was good, the drag system was good, and giving it a real once over. It’s all a bit different from anyone who picks one off a shelf in some
Chinese ‘buy a reel ready meal’ factory. James takes great pride. in his work; he has to, as not only does he put his name to it, he is out on the bank using it. Not only was James doing his work, but so was Chappy. Me? I was just there to catch a big chub. I surely couldn’t class what I do as work (just don’t tell the Ed).
When you watch a small video on YouTube or any professionally made footage, you may have no idea what goes into the polished finished piece, and how difficult it is for all parties. Apart from the fact that Chappy has to capture beautiful images, he has to do it stealthily, in a constantly changing environment. And most of all he needs to see fish on the bank, so it becomes a bit of a pressure cooker workplace. That’s why I sloped off to fish whilst the boys did their stuff. Itching to get out and trot a fl oat, I decided to watch James for a spell. It really did strike home to me just how comfortable in his environment he is, a true master at his craft, constantly making decisions, changes, and thinking what the fishes’ next move is going to be.
On a very natural water, he is a real joy to watch. Couple all of that with the fact that he was also making a video, and handing over all of these tips, it’s no wonder that the calibre of angler is getting higher, as every nugget of info’ is so readily available. You get it all for a few quid every week in Angler’s Mail.
Stuck up trees
Although it was a pretty miserable day, weatherwise, I happily sat on the bank, seeing Chappy weave his video magic,
and James getting stuck up trees. I had to pinch myself as I often do and think how lucky we are as anglers, to be involved in such a superb outdoor pursuit, and as a group of blokes laughing like big children on a Monday lunchtime… and not a drop of alcohol in sight. The light soon faded. My job was done. I came, I saw, I caught, and picked up some invaluable tips about chub fishing from themaster, Mr Robbins. For example, just that simple tweak of letting the fl oat run straight at them, rather than inching it back, really did the trick. With sides that hurt due to
laughter, I came away from that muddy river bank thinking that I had won the Lotto. A great day with a great bunch; actually, something no amount of money can buy.