Angling: Robson was one of angling’s most colourful characters

The weir at Boston Spa.
The weir at Boston Spa.
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It is rather quiet on the angling news front this week so I am once more going to take a walk down Memory Lane and remind older anglers of some of the characters of yesteryear.

Howard Robson was what I would call a ‘thinking angler’ for he was extremely methodical about every aspect of the sport and some of the things that he did on the river bank went against all conventional theories. He was a brilliant, if unconventional angler who captained the Leeds National Championship team for a period.

So keen was he in this role that every year he would devote a couple of weeks of his annual holidays to visit the venue designated for that year’s National and would fish in every section, he would then compile a dossier on the best methods to use and all of the team members would be given these on the day of the match.

He did not leave anything to chance. On the downside he was noted for being very sarcastic which led to him being disliked by more than a few but then with hindsight the remarks were probably deserved.

By profession he was a school teacher who specialised in children with learning difficulties and the kids absolutely loved him.

One of his subjects was nature study and his school in Beeston had a vehicle to take the pupils on study groups so what did Howard do? He took them fishing.

His patience with them was tremendous as he passed on his angling knowledge and also taught them about water craft and the environment.

He certainly was an eccentric but also very crafty and I well remember when we were allowed to have a fishing match just before the start of the river series in June.

It was held on the tidal reaches of the River Wharfe and we could only fish for eels and flounders (flatties) and the only permitted bait was worms. One particular year we had had a very dry spring and worms were scarce. The shops did not sell them in those days, so you had to collect your own.

We were lucky for my dad had a mate who was a grave digger so he kept us well supplied for the price of a couple of pints. Howard turned up that day with a huge amount of bait and he told us that he had organised a contest with the school kids to see who could get the most worms for ‘Sir’ with half a crown for the winner.

After Howard retired he re-located from Leeds to Boston Spa to be nearer to his beloved River Wharfe and he quickly organised a contest between the local club and the Compton Arms.

He knew every spot on that river and I remember drawing some hundred yards below him once and had only been fishing for a few minutes when he appeared behind me and started chatting.

He then left and went walkabout for a couple of hours.

He told me later that the spot he drew was a deep gully noted for barbel so what he had done was to bait it with a bucketful of cooked hemp and when he returned the fish were feeding ravenously and he bagged up on the barbel.

Howard sadly passed away about ten years ago at a comparatively young age, but he will never be forgotten.

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