For many years Australian anglers had to make do with the occasional overseas — and therefore largely irrelevant — television fishing show to whet their appetite when not on the water.
Older folks may remember Rob Calcutt’s pivotal A Fisherman’s World series, which was a fixture during the lunch break in the cricket back in the days when television was in black and white and the ABC had the broadcast rights. And then there was Bob and Dolly Dyer (of Pickabox quiz show fame), whose game fishing home movies sometimes got an airing during the summer non-ratings period.
Quality Australian fishing shows, however, remained thin on the ground for a very long time until the arrival of The Bearded Burbler, Rex Hunt, whose TV show brought recreational fishing to national prominence, along with catch-and-release (or kiss-and-release as it was to become known).
Peter Morse’s Wildfish was another classic of that time period. Broadcast on SBS, it was understated, sophisticated, beautifully shot, and let the fish do the talking.
Comedians Rob Sitch and Tom Gleisner of The Castle (amongst other award winning shows) even had a crack at their own fishing documentary series with A River Somewhere. It, too, was artistically filmed, and certainly led to a spike in interest in fly fishing right around the country.
The size, cost and quality of video equipment has changed the fishing show landscape, and a half hour production can be put together for a fraction of what it cost a decade ago. What’s more, the quality is excellent. Even amateur shows displayed on YouTube and Vimeo are professional, sophisticated enterprises these days.
Cheap, good quality equipment with simple editing suites has created this situation and spawned a plethora of fishing shows on mainstream television; pay for view, or on YouTube channels, not to mention the tens of thousands that are displayed on keen fishos’ Facebook pages.
At the end of the day though, people want to be informed as well as entertained, so the better fishing shows feature a dedicated how-to segment, as well as tips sprinkled throughout. It’s a fine line to walk, but the good operators get the balance just right.