Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

RIP John Wilson - in my mind a true legend of fishing

I was shocked to get back from blanking yesterday and find out that John Wilson had died of a stroke over in Thailand I believe, and whilst the word “legend” is in my opinion grossly overused these days, to me John was a proper legend of our fishing world. It depends on your age of course, but I would guess that a fair number of you reading this are in the same boat as me and grew up watching John Wilson’s outstanding programmes on terrestrial TV, indeed it’s easy to forget that there was a time when we only had very few TV channels and John was the voice of fishing.

My profound apologies for “borrowing” this photo from the Angling Times website I think it was, but I don’t have any photos of John

My profound apologies for “borrowing” this photo from the Angling Times website I think it was, but I don’t have any photos of John

Apparently John Wilson made 16 TV series in all and he also wrote a heap of fishing books and took some pretty serious photographs and so on, but as a youngster who was obsessed with fishing, John’s TV programmes were a big inspiration to me and I distinctly remember being gripped every single week because he was so damn skilful at getting across his knowledge and love for all kinds of fishing. You can imagine I am sure how much of a thrill it was for a young angler like me to go and stay with my godmother in Norfolk and go into John’s Norwich based tackle shop to buy bait and tackle from the man himself for the coarse fishing I was doing up there.

And then I got to meet John properly as such at a bunch of different fishing shows over the years and he could not have been more friendly or encouraging of my own very minor TV work that let’s be honest wasn’t a patch on how effortlessly he could convey his own incredible fishing skills. I will always remember when I was first “approached” by a guy to see if I was interested in trying out in front of the camera and seeing if we could start making some fishing programmes together, because that director who got hold of me had in fact directed a huge number of John’s TV programmes - so when we started working together I would naturally ask endless questions about all that amazing TV work and travel they did together.

Fishing has lost one of its legends in my opinion. Without a doubt John Wilson paved the way for the various satellite channels to pick up on fishing and pump out far too many lesser programmes and series (and I include my stuff in that statement) that no doubt found some kind of audience but were never, ever going to have the immense kind of impact that John’s TV work had on so many people. I grew up watching John’s shows and I credit him with helping to inspire my love for fishing. RIP John Wilson - the fishing world is not quite as good today with you not being a part of it……….