I don’t like fishing, mostly working-class blokes who want to get away from the misses dosing down the local park for hours trying to catch the same fish they caught last week. But I did enjoy John Wilsons fishing show back in the day on Anglia TV, a lovely old guy who would fish the local rivers of Norfolk and Suffolk and somehow made for a half hour TV show. It would be a serene stuff, insects skating across winding rivers; the only drama of the day John knocking his flask over or being mooed by a cow. But fishing had to up its game on modern TV to compete on the 100 channel platform and so extreme fishing is here to stay, Robson Green and Jeremy Wade, the host of Extreme Fishing and River Monsters, respectively, going head-to-head. Green is in hog heaven and clearly a big game fisherman enthusiastic at heart; whereas Wade is more the articulate with a journalist background and Bear Grylls approach to fishing.
The more money, nouse and kit you have in this game the bigger your fish and the more exotic your location, the key to the success of these shows. No expense is spared as the hyperactive Green, and square jawed rugged Wade, are flown all around the world to take on biggest and most aggressive fish for Quest and ITV respectively. But it’s still fishing and so relaxing TV.
River Monsters is looped on ITV 4 most nights of the week. Wade heads out around the world to catch the world’s most illusive and often fearsome fish, a narrative built into each episode that the mysterious creatures of the deep attack locals, in most cases fatally. Everything from inland electric eels to ocean going Death Rays feature and not beasts you want to run into all alone.
Seasons Twos beasts range from the Goliath Tiger Fish of the Congo to the Giant Snakehead of the Florida Everglades, or the menacing Bull Shark of Australia that likes to drift up the river from the ocean and much the local wildlife. This guy is not hunting Perch or Chubb.
The set up is that he basically goes native and mingles with the locals, respecting local traditions and cultures. If Wade needs to put a bit of war paint on or drop the locals a few quid to receive a voodoo spell or two to help him catch that illusive pray then he will do it. The shows are edited so he tends to catch his target fish or debunk local myths by the end of the hour. The twist here is that he doesn’t go looking to catch a specific type of fish but work out what breed has been attacking the locals by actually trying to catch the beast. Seeing an electric eel fry a crocodile in Argentina is quite a sight. Most of these fish seem to have large teeth.