Authors: Robson Green
Also by Robson Green
Robson Green: Just the Beginning
First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2013
A CBS COMPANY
Copyright © IWC Media Limited (a Zodiak Media Company) 2013
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved.
The right of Robson Green to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act,
Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB
Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-47112-748-9
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-47112-803-5
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-47112-750-2
Typeset by M Rules
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY
I dedicate this book to my beautiful son Taylor and to my Uncle Matheson who gave me everything I needed to know about Fishing –
To my darling High Tower, Mom & Pops, Mo Granny and Robson –
I’m in the mid-Atlantic, off the coast of the Azores, powering through the waves on a high-tech fishing yacht. South African Captain Ian Carter and shipmate Steve
Hall are taking me on a deep-sea adventure in pursuit of the Holy Grail of game fish, the Atlantic blue marlin. The sun is warm, birds are flying high in the sky above, and dolphins are leaping
just metres from the boat. Conditions are perfect for catching a billfish and Ian tells me I’m here at exactly the right time, when the Gulf Stream brings the marlin within striking
We’ve been motoring across the ocean for four and half hours and at last we’re approaching our destination. Ian slows down and we put out squid lures at the back of the boat and
begin to trawl. The vibrations of the boat should help attract marlin and maybe, just maybe, one will take the bait. We trawl and we trawl but nothing is going for our lures. The hours tick by.
Unlike our reels, everyone is at full tension.
Suddenly, Steve tells Ian to change course. He can ‘smell fish’. I sniff the air; I can’t smell a bloody thing. I sniff again: nope, nothing. Ian swings the boat round and
heads west. Steve points at a small slick of oil on the water; we’re going to head straight through it. It’s a sign that something is feeding on bait fish, possibly sardines or
mackerel. We’re closing in on our target. I ask Steve for some advice in case I am lucky enough to hook a blue.
He is a man of few words. He says, in his North Carolina drawl, ‘I’ll be watching from the corner of my eye. I’ll say “Go to the chair”, and you go. Just take your
time and don’t go all scrambled egg, do you know what I mean?’
Right, got it. No, actually I haven’t. What the hell does that mean?
About twenty minutes later, and with little time left on the clock before we have to return, one of the reels starts making a loud whirring sound, like a primitive yawn. We are
in! The line is taken out at high speed, 200 metres or more.
‘Hold me glasses. Hold me glasses!’ I say, panicking and flapping like the actor I am. My heart is pounding as I click on the harness and take the rod. The fight is immensely
be a marlin but I’m not certain. I am yanked forward violently and swung round in the chair. I lean back with all my might, release and reel, ten to the dozen. And
very slowly I begin to bring the fish closer to the boat. But soon it turns and runs again, stripping the line out another 150 metres.
‘Please, please stay on the line. I beg you to stay on the line,’ I say.
‘Relax,’ says Steve, but that is impossible right now.
I wind as fast as I can without letting the line go slack, otherwise I could lose the fish.
Think positive, Robson.
My muscles are burning and my arms feel as if they are going to drop
off. Ian is backing up the boat to help me.
I am hard-boiled, not scrambled. Hard!
I shout at myself internally, like a fishing coxswain.
Come on, Robson. Come on!
I fight with all my
might for fifty minutes, winding and pulling, when suddenly a 500-pound blue marlin bursts though the crest of a wave, piercing the sky with her spear.
She is the most amazing creature I have ever seen. Her body is midnight blue with a silvery white belly and faint cobalt stripes on her side. I am awe-struck.
‘black sword’ of the Atlantic (in Latin,
is a sword and
means ‘becoming black’). She is the reason we have come here and it’s taken
only a matter of hours to find her. It took poor old Santiago eighty-five days to catch a marlin in Hemingway’s
The Old Man and the Sea
. Our budget just wouldn’t stretch to
Jaded, I slowly reel in my beautiful fish. She is tired, too. Steve grabs the line and pulls her to the side of the boat. For this to count as a catch, he needs to get hold of the last bit of
the filament, called the leader, which connects the line on the rod and reel to the hook. We can’t bring the fish on board as the species is not only protected but also seriously dangerous.
Steve leans out and grips the leader with his right hand and smiles at me. We have officially caught an Atlantic blue marlin.
We all stand and stare silently at the magnificent fish moving with the waves at the side of the boat. With a gloved hand, Steve carefully ‘bills’ the fish by firmly grasping her
spear so she can’t injure anyone. Marlin use their bills to slash and kill schools of fish before they feed and they have been known to spear boats and the odd fisherman, too, including one
woman I read about on the Internet who was pierced through the chest when a marlin leapt onto the boat. The only thing that saved her was her breast implant. Perhaps Katie Price should be doing
this show instead of me. After all, she is better equipped.
I run my hand across the marlin’s back and say goodbye. Steve unhooks her and releases the bill. Capable of swimming at up to 68 m.p.h., she is gone in a matter of seconds. Everyone is
pumped with emotion and adrenalin; the marlin was truly astonishing and her magic lingers. We hug and engage in male back-slapping.
‘Don’t forget to breathe,’ says Steve.
We return to shore, the marlin flag upside down to show we’ve caught and released an Atlantic blue today. I am a hero and this episode is a triumph – except that
this is television and our fishing adventure hasn’t been quite as clear-cut as it would seem.
In reality, we have just pulled off a miracle at the eleventh hour. The show was on the verge of being cancelled and my career well and truly down the pan.
could have been
my second Vietnam, the first being my singing career with Jerome. Director Ian Lilley and I hug each other out of pure relief. He goes back to projectile vomiting off the side of the boat, which he
and his assistant, Anna Hassan, have been doing for the past few days. I have done most of the filming myself, by fixing the camera to the side of the boat and talking into it. It’s the
eighth day of a disastrous trip and we are all exhausted. Catching the blue marlin has pulled us back from the brink and it’s all thanks to one extraordinary man, Steve: The Man Who Can Smell
Rewind to eight days earlier. I’ve just landed my own fishing show. I am unbearable to my wife, colleagues and peers. What mortal can resist the sensuous mix of exotic
travel, hard cash and fish? In every fisherman’s eyes I’ve won the lottery. My mentor and uncle, Matheson Green, who taught me to fish as a boy, is sick as a parrot with envy;
he’s also very proud. I, however, am smug and heading for a fall, and it comes sooner than I think.
Some people say the anticipatory fear of doing something is far worse than actually doing it. What a load of old cobblers. From the moment I step on to the plane to Madrid I know I have made a
terrible mistake. Matters aren’t helped at Heathrow when an old woman comes rushing over and says, ‘Eeeh, look who it is and I haven’t got my teeth in.’ She continues,
‘I’ve got your album – I got it free with a chicken at the supermarket.’ She thinks she is paying me a compliment, and goes on to tell me she uses the CD cover to stop her
fridge from wobbling. The director, Ian, literally has to pick me off the floor, where my ego lies in tatters.
Our first port of call is the River Ebro in Spain. I am supposed to catch a wels catfish today but at the moment I feel I’m more likely to suffer a heart attack. I
take my pulse subtly in the van – it’s over 100 beats per minute. I need beta blockers. Fishing used to be my stress relief but not anymore. Not only do I have to fish on camera but I
also have to present, and I’m not really used to being myself in front of, well, anyone these days. I prefer to dress up, slap on the make-up and pretend to be someone else. Anyone but
I swallow hard as I prepare for my first piece to camera. We enter a local drinking hole in Mequinenza, full of rowdy British cat-fishermen. It looks like the bar in
, where Han
Solo meets Chewbacca. Talk about an owner looking like his dog; these guys all look like catfish, complete with hairy barbels.