This week, Robson journeys to stunning Sri Lanka, where fishing is the lifeblood of the coastal communities around the island. The adventure begins with some real local colour at the Kandy Perahera festival. This event is a unique symbol of Sri Lanka’s heritage, celebrating Buddhism with dancing. Garishly decorated elephants are often the most memorable images from this incredible spectacle. Robson also observes the traditional ‘water-cutting’ ceremony – the Diya Kepeema.
Next up is a stop at the beaches of southern Sri Lanka. Robson heads for the seaside town of Koggala where fishing continues as normal, despite the massive damaged caused by the 2004 tsunami. Robson encounters the Weligama stilt fishermen, who have practised their unique technique of balancing on poles for decades.
Passed down from father to son, the position of these poles along the coastline is much disputed. The fishermen carve intricate notches, enabling them to climb up on to their 10ft-high crossbar perches. As Robson follows the fishermen out into the sea, he prepares himself to climb the poles. How will he fare when he is attempting to keep his balance while catching his supper?
Despite not being fond of the dark, Robson then visits the Uda Walawe national park and challenges himself to fish in one of the caves. There is the potential to catch stinging catfish, eels and gobies, amongst other weird and wonderful creatures. It is not an easy task, but with the right bait Robson could be successful. However, with thousands of bats flying around, eating anything caught in this cave would not be advisable!
In search of spirituality, Robson decides to visit a Buddhist temple on one of the beautiful islands found on the Madu Ganga river. He then heads out for a fishing trip on the river, one of the most abundant in Sri Lanka. Surrounded by thick jungle, the water is stocked to the gunnels with freshwater fish and huge barracuda, barramundi, mangrove jack, bull eyes and mackerel. After a surprisingly Zen experience at the temple, will fortune smile on Robson’s adventure?
However, Robson has one major goal on this leg of his tour. Found in the Mahaweli river, the mahseer is the main species of indigenous sporting fish in Sri Lanka – and the Geordie lad will not be happy until he has caught one! This is the ultimate freshwater fish, renowned as the hardest-fighting species on the planet. The mahseer in the Mahaweli can reach weights of up to 107lb – is Robson up to the challenge?
Leaving southern Sri Lanka behind, Robson’s final trip takes him to the wilds of the Indian Ocean. The Geordie sets off from the fishing village of Hambantota looking for the ocean’s biggest predators – but it is monsoon season and conditions are horrendous. After three terrifying hours at sea, it is time for Robson to catch something extreme! But will he be able to handle his rod – and his fish – in such wild conditions?
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