My Russian Adventure - Jake Wildbore

“The month between fishing at Linear with my new Russian friends, Vitali and Dmitry, absolutely flew by. After all the stress and hassle that followed with organising a Visa, accommodation and flights in such a short space in time, I was soon boarding the plane from London's Gatwick airport to Moscow.

I'd never visited Russia before, and if I'm honest, I've never had any intention to. However, after their kind invitation for me to come over for ten days and experience some of the fine angling it has to offer, I couldn't say no.

The flight went well; being an early morning flight and having a sleepless night before, I slept like a baby all the way. We finally arrived in Moscow after a smooth, three and a half hour flight, so far so good. Once through customs, I had to then find my way to board another flight to Yekaterinburg. This just indicates the sheer size of Russia; like I've mentioned, my flight from Gatwick to Moscow was three and a half hours long and this next flight was the same. So, I was pretty much traveling the same distance just to another part of Russia!

I had a few hours to kill between flights, so I thought I'd treat myself to a few beers whilst I waited. Walking through the airport I started to feel slightly uncomfortable, everyone seemed to be just staring at me. At the time I thought, maybe I had something round my mouth? Or was it the clothes I was wearing? Then, after having a good look around, it was clear why. Every single bloke had black hair and if I'm honest, to me they all looked the same. The way they were dressed, hair and style. There I was, with a bright jumper and ridiculously bright blond hair, obviously it was the first time Russia had seen an albino, and either that or they thought I was Ivan Drago.

A few beers later and my plane was ready to board. Again, I fell straight asleep although the flight, the beer might have helped with that too!

Once in Yekaterinburg, I was greeted by Dmitry and Vitali. Then, I had the pleasure of experiencing Russian roads. Now, if you've been to Russia you'll know what I mean, pothole after pothole. The main roads are similar to the hellish tracks we have to endure to some lakes, but they're everywhere.

We arrived at Dmitry's beautiful house for the evening and then were up bright and early for the long drive ahead.

Once close, we had the mammoth task of actually getting to the lake. I've mentioned before how bad the roads are, well this was on another level. It was basically a tractor’s track across a field, I'd say it was around three miles long, and with the amount of rain that had fallen days before, it looked unlikely we'd make it.

Whilst driving through Russia I was wondering why there were so many 4x4 and old cars, I now know why, you simply can't get by with a normal vehicle.

Thankfully, the owner of the lake appeared with his 4x4, ready to help tow us out if we did get stuck. Well, it took a matter of minutes until we'd sunk and were well and truly stuck. To the point that not even his big 4x4 could pull us out. So he called for back up, two more came and again, couldn't pull us out. So, they had to call for a tractor to finally tow us all the way to the lake.

Finally, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, which in this instance was the sun glistening off a beautifully picturesque lake. After all the traveling and different perils we'd had to endure, the sight of a nice lake was like a breath of fresh air.

The reason that we traveled all this way to fish this particular lake was because Dmitry and Vitalii had a competition on here the following weekend. So, they wanted to get a few days practice in before the main event. A few of their friends came along too for a bit of a social, but more importantly to practice.

I was really interested to spend sometime with a few of the anglers. Whilst fishing in the World Championships you see all manners of different tackle, bivvies, rods, pods, but you are restricted to your 20-metre area. So you can never go and see how they fish and why they do the things they do. Because even though it’s still carp fishing and you'd think their approach would be no different to ours, it certainly is. One thing was apparent; that they weren't planning on moving anytime soon! It was clear from the amount of gear and different bivvies, a move definitely wasn't on the cards. They very rarely fish short sessions; normally a long session whether a it's a 72-hour or a few days spent somewhere, the thought of an overnight season would frighten them I think.

They use bait to their advantage on these long sessions. I've seen it on a number of occasions in a match situation - they will just keep baiting, whether they had caught or not. Clearly, this is against my style of angling because I like to bait when I catch, and maybe trickle a bit of bait in to tempt a bite, but I’d certainly never just fill it in!

This is what made the trip already worthwhile and so interesting for me; I was learning off them, just as much as they learnt from me. Our styles of fishing were completely different, but both could be used to gain an advantage if used correctly. Through the practice they both went with their game plan and it worked. The fishing was incredibly difficult because the water temperature was still really cold, but we had a successful few days and returned to the hotel so they could charge the batteries ready for their 72-hour match ahead.

Like all matches, the draw has to be the worst moment of the whole competition. Even though I wasn’t taking part, my heart was jumping out my chest. Thankfully, I pulled out a half decent swim and things were looking good for the next few days. There were 19 pairs competing and if I’m honest, the organisation was up there with the best I’ve seen in a match environment. The venue was perfectly suited for the event, each team had ample amount of room and it looked like it could turn out to be a close match.

The start of the match started quite slow, but that’s normal due to the amount of sudden disturbance coursed, but once settled fish started coming out all over the lake. Once again, it was so interesting walking around and seeing how all 19 pairs approached each swim.

Sadly, Dmitry and Vitalii didn’t get the result they wanted, but they certainly learnt plenty and I’m sure they’ll go on to win plenty of matches in the future.

After the competition it was time for me to head home, after an enjoyable 10 days travelling around Russia, seeing some of the vast countryside and some of their beautiful historical buildings and great food, it was time to get back to reality. I can’t wait to go back.”