Colin Mitchell, our popular weekly blogger, has his say about angling on TV! If you like this blog, click the social media share buttons.
I DON’T care if you love it or loathe it – you should be welcoming Earth’s Wildest Waters: The Big Fish on BBC TV with open arms.
The viewing figures for the programme featuring Ben Fogle and Matt Hayes have been more than healthy and should (not could) encourage the Beeb into another series.
Add to that the fact that Dean Macey and Ali Hamidi are due to return to ITV early next year with Big Fish Off and it’s all good news for angling.
Anglers have moaned for years that there’s not enough fishing on TV and they’ve lamented the recent loss of Keith Arthur’s Tight Lines on SkySports…. but do they do anything about it? Of course not! Or at least they do very little.
I saw letters in the media and debates online about starting petitions for more angling on the gogglebox. But has anyone actually put any of these things into practice?
No one has except Matt, Dean and Ali. Their ideas, their determination has put angling on mainstream telly. Don’t try and let anyone else take the credit. These guys have used their skills to help create the programmes.
And let’s not forget that Keith Arthur was on the box for almost 20 years. Yes it was that long! Keith’s never been one to hold back saying stuff – and good on him for that – but his was very dignified when the door shut on the ‘bothy’ for the last time.
As he said, all things come to an end and in this case is was down to finances and changes in Sky’s planning for the future. Keith’s action meant that the door could open again in the future for more angling on satellite TV.
Don’t forget in recent times we have also had Jeremy Wade in search of River Monsters and Robson Green doing a bit of Extreme Fishing.
Not really fishing programmes did I head you say? Well they were good TV and I will bet all of the programmes above have inspired people to go fishing or at least take a bit more interest.
I used to want more angling on telly because I liked watching our sport. Then I decided I didn’t want too much as I quite liked not having the banks crowded out.
But the reality is that we should want fishing on the little box for a multitude of reason, all of them good for our sport.
TV means better proifile for angling
First, greater exposure means anglers get a raised profile. That can only be good for the game in the face of any anti-angling propaganda. If people know what fishing is really about – that it is more than just catching fish, it’s also about the environment, protecting the landscape, animals, birds and a whole lot more – we knock stupid comments against us into a cocked hat.
And if we attract more people in the great world we enjoy they will be there to support our sport when we need to fight silly legislation at the ballot box. Groups like English Heritage, National Trust and the RSPB all have massive clout because they have numbers, cash and a lot of support from the public.
TV gives us exposure to get closer to the dream of raising angling’s numbers once more to the dizzy heights they were in the 1980s – but it’s not just about getting people to go fishing.
It is also about making the public understand there is a whole lot more to having a rod and reel. Angling is still regarded by outsiders as a pastime or hobby rather than a sport. It’s still one of those things a few people have tried or fancy trying.
TV can turn people on to this fishing lark and keep them there. It can also let them know the good angling really does for the planet and the people who live on it.
The right image is crucial
Whilst we are on the subject of fishing on TV we must also point out that it is crucial we give the right image.
Keith Arthur always came across as the friendly guy who would take you fishing. Matt Hayes comes over as someone who knows his stuff (he does!) and that he is willing to pass on that knowledge.
Dean Macey’s international athletics background gives him credibility (if he can go fishing now we can too…) but his banter with Ali Hamidi also shows that fishing can be fun.
Chris Yates and Bob James really reflected angling and its love of the countryside in A Passion for Angling – my favourite TV fishing programme.
What we must now ensure is that years’ of good work proving we care for the fish and the environment is not undone by some silly mistakes.
I did see some fishing on telly recently (not in any of the above programmes) where, in my opinion, fish were not treated with the respect they deserve – where they were bundled into landing and then keepnets.
If a footballer breaks the rules of the game he gets a red card or suspension. Any angler who falls short of what we expect, our own code of conduct if you like, should also serve out some form of punishment…