The actor travels to New Caledonia.
This week, Robson grabs his tackle bag and sets off to experience the bleak midwinter in Khabarovsk, eastern Russia. Khabarovsk is known as the Nice of the east because it shares the same latitude as the French city. But, as ice flows down the Amur river, it appears to share very little else with the Mediterranean resort.
Two hours north of Khabarovsk, in Sikachi-Alyan, live the Nanai people, who fish the Amur with the hope of snaffling a northern pike. The day starts with a traditional dance, blessing the fishermen on their endeavours. A crab-like lure is attached to a line on a rudimentary stick-rod, then dropped through a hole in the ice. Then, the silent waiting begins.
While relations between the fishermen never really get above freezing, there is eventually a tug on a line that raises everyone’s temperature. Back in town, a trip to the shop proves fruitful, until a local on the frozen river using lesssophisticated equipment tells Robson he should have saved his roubles, and the fish seem to agree.
Robson says goodbye to Khabarovsk and flies over to the Kamchatka peninsula, a place twice the size of Britain with the population of Cardiff. Robson has been promised that the fish here are much easier prey. A few pointers from master angler Sergei, with a bit of salmon-egg bait, then a pretend fish made of straw, followed by some scare tactics using snowballs, and Robson lands his first Russian fish – all three inches of it. “I feel so butch now!” he declares.
Next, Robson heads to Dolinovka in Kamchatka’s wild interior with Sergei, the frozen river provides the trip’s first Arctic char, caught from an ice hole, and it must be nearly double size of the previous haul. So back in it goes.
As the sun rises on his final day in Russia, Sergei’s unlucky charm, Robson, proposes a game, and the Geordie-boy finally finds some form.