In California, Robson wrestles with a shark.
As Robson arrives in the fishing wonderland of Florida, he is greeted with the coldest spell the state has suffered for some 85 years. “You travel all this way to the Sunshine State and it’s blowing a gale!” he reflects. Refusing to let the weather dampen his mood, the actor teams up with captain Taco Perez at Fort Lauderdale and is soon on the open ocean on the trail of sailfish. Having never managed to net this beast, nicknamed the ballerina of the seas owing to its grace and power, Robson is determined that his luck will change.
“America is my best chance to bag one,” he says. Despite Taco’s confidence, the sailfish are nowhere to be seen. After hours at sea, the anglers have caught nothing – until a flurry of activity attracts their attention. Taco catches a bull dorado, then leaves it in the water in order to attract females to the area. The ploy works very well, and Robson manages to land half a dozen good-sized fish in just five minutes. However, the sailfish remains elusive.
The next stop for Robson is Miami, an hour’s drive south from Fort Lauderdale. To maximise the chances of fulfilling his sailfish dream, the actor joins up with local legend Bouncer Smith, who claims to have caught some 13,000 game fish in a 30-year career. Once out at sea, Robson quickly gets a bite and manages to bring in a remora, or suckerfish – a bizarre-looking fish that attaches itself to large predators for protection and transportation. He then lands a huge king mackerel. “Now that’s a lovely specimen, but I still feel like a kid who has been given the wrong present,” he says.
After four hours at sea, Robson is about to give up when he suddenly gets a big bite. A flash of silver in the distance confirms his suspicions that this is a sailfish – and a big one. “What a rush!” he shouts. “There’s nothing like this!” The fish fights well, but, with the aid of Bouncer and his mate, the intrepid angler eventually manages to bring it in. “There we have it,” he enthuses. “The fastest ocean-going predator on the planet – the Atlantic sailfish!”
Making the most of his winning streak, Robson heads inland to the lakes and creeks of Gemini Springs. Teaming up with experts Wayne and Josh, he tries his hand at bow fishing from a flatbottomed airboat. “If you can see the fish, you can get the fish,” advises Wayne. However, as an archery champion, Wayne finds the technique a little easier than Robson, who feels way more comfortable with a rod and reel. The men are after tilapia, a species that has reached plague proportions since being introduced from Africa. “The good news is I can eat as many as I like,” says Robson. “The bad news is I have to hit one first!”
Despite his pessimism, the Geordie eventually manages to spear a small fish, which he later grills over an open fire and eats. Before his American adventure ends, Robson joins the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders for a moraleboosting routine, before coming face to face with some big alligators in Lake Worth. However, his greatest fishing challenge to date is yet to come.
On the final day of his trip, he heads to the West Palm Beach Fishing Club on a mission to catch a true giant of the seas – the bull shark. These massive, aggressive predators can grow to over 400lbs and have been known to attack humans. “My next target will make the massive 80lb sailfish I caught seem like a minnow,” says a somewhat apprehensive Robson. Could this leg of the worldwide fishing tour be Robson’s last?