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'Rock on Fishing for Schools!' Coach Q&A with Bob Goble

Bob Goble is the epitome of a great coach. Bob's enthusiasm and sheer zest for what he does goes way beyond the usual areas required. Young people just love his infectious joy for the sport and his minute attention to detail.

As happy spinning deer hair to fashion a deadly “dog biscuit” imitation for carp as he his plunging the depths for “silver fish” and beyond, or casting a fly with prodigious ease; Bob is a vital part of what we are and continue to do within Fishing for Schools.

The students love him and so do we.

What do you do now, apart from Fishing for Schools, and what else should we know about you?

I’m supposed to be retired, but as they say, "you can’t keep a good man down". I now work occasionally at Bewl Waters as their fly fishing instructor / coach. Other interests are saltwater fly fishing for bass, mullet mainly; in the warmer months if time is available I play a little golf on occasion and look after the garden. But there is always something getting in the way when I should be fishing.

When did you start fishing?

Far too many years back for me to remember.

What inspired you to start fishing?

Undoubtedly my father, a very keen countryman with a knowledge of all things outdoors, definitely from the Jack Hargreaves days, but sadly long gone.

What made, or rather “inspired” you to continue fishing?

I lived in Pembrokeshire in Wales for a few years and fished with my father as much as possible - those early years were very much a learning curve. There was a book called Mr Crabtree goes fishing, by Bernard Venables, which I would read from cover to cover all the time. It was inspirational.

Living very close to an estuary and with such beautiful countryside around, I would always be outdoors; I’m sure it had a calming effect on me. Being by the water had a magical and mysterious way, and what lies beneath!

What notable achievement do you think you have you made in fishing, Bob?

I loved course and sea fishing and at that time was very much into competition; I did on occasion pick up trophies and prizes as well as pool money. On one occasion I won a television! But I suppose the greatest achievement is giving back to others through my knowledge (but always learning).

What made you want to become a coach?

I would attend angling shows or game fairs and be mesmerised by the sheer elegance and control of all these experts casting fly lines. There was one man that stood out, Charles Jardine, casting tight loops, long distance and landing a piece of wool like thistledown onto the water. I knew then what I wanted to do. Charles inspired me to go on the journey of learning; although I was fly fishing at the time, I needed to improve.

When did you become a coach?

It was back in May 2003. I qualified as a level 2 coach, then went on to join GAIA (Game Anglers Instructors Association) and received my professional qualification to teach fly casting.

When did you join Fishing for Schools and why?

I met Charles at a Reading Game Fair, on the banks of the Thames. We got chatting and that’s when he asked me to join Fishing for Schools. It was something I could be good at and I'm very excited to be part of the team.

What has given you the most pleasure working with Fishing for Schools?

Meeting so many young people from all sorts of schools and backgrounds; meeting teachers and on some occasions the mums and dads, all keen to see what all the fuss was all about; the various events run by Charles, and not forgetting our great coaches. The Kent coaching team is quite unique in providing the usual course fishing but with the edition of fly fishing, mainly for course fish but carp, and sometimes trout.

What is the most difficult part of Fishing for Schools?

Traveling to venues. It has been a pain to get to venues at times, not knowing how the session pans out, is the weather going to effect the session, are the students keen (mostly they are, especially with fly casting). I do try to make it fun, but always have a plan B or C. This could be fly dressing or knots, or identifying what makes a fish tick.

What is your main aim for a Fishing for Schools session?

Apart from giving them the skills to fish confidently, having the desire to continue fishing and maybe parent participation, learning flora and fauna. It’s not always about catching but enjoying and caring for the environment. More fishing boxes not Xboxes!

How do you personally measure a successful session?

Whether course or fly, I will note the student’s reaction. Will they respond to questions? I always say "please ask me" if they don’t understand anything. I try to make these sessions as fun as possible, understanding that each and every one of the students has a different learning level. I also find it helps to find out what other interests they might have, it’s surprising with some students when they come out of their shell. Jokes and lots of laughter always help. At the end of the session, I get a lot of positive feedback from students and teachers.

What is your funniest moment with Fishing for Schools?

Oh dear, there are quite a few funny moments... the one I can think of is when I stepped sideways off a platform with a young student into the water holding his arm while playing a large carp that was running hard out and away. I quickly held him up so the teachers could pluck him out. I eventually got out; the pair of us soaked and laughing. It was a good job it wasn’t cold. I was concerned how the student was a little later, but the laugh was on me. I get ribbed all the time on this one. Oh, by the way, I did recover the rod and reel but the fish got away!

Why do you believe in Fishing for Schools?

I always look back at my time in school, having particularly found it difficult at times to concentrate; if the opportunity such as Fishing for Schools was in place, I would have jumped at it. It’s all part of the curriculum with the schools taking part, it offers an alternative way into education. There are always some that find schooling the traditional route difficult and Fishing for Schools helps enormously, giving them confidence for a positive future.

What is the future for Fishing for Schools, do you think?

The future looks very bright. More and more schools are looking to join the programme but unfortunately it has to be scaled down to what can be handled. Funding is an issue, but it’s the same with all other charities. Charles and many others do unbelievable work on the funding side, if only we could get the government to come onside and see the good work and benefit to our younger generation.

Why should people who are both anglers & non anglers get behind Fishing for Schools?

Fishing in general should be available to all to try, there are huge benefits for wellbeing as well as mental health. I have come across many teachers and parents who have said how they have seen changes to their children on the programme for the better, mothers and fathers wanting to try fishing for the first time and enjoying every minute with them; even the non angler being badgered by their son or daughter to take them fishing, giving them a hobby that might last a lifetime, but definitely keeping them out of trouble!

Where do you see Fishing for Schools in five years’ time?

I believe Fishing for Schools will keep going. Every year since Charles started this programme, we see more and more schools wanting to come on board. There is now a good network of coaches coming through, so it will go from strength to strength. If the will is there, the likes of myself and Charles will at some point stand down and hopefully someone with the courage, stamina, desire, and passion will take over (with big boots to fill).


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