JOHN WIL­SON

Anglers Mail - - Front Page -

AN­GLING le­gend John Wil­son passed away last week fol­low­ing a stroke at his lake­side home in Thai­land.

TVs ‘Mr An­gling’ was rushed to hos­pi­tal and had an op­er­a­tion to clear a blood clot on his brain, but died from an en­su­ing car­diac ar­rest.

The 75-year-old star was much loved, widely re­spected and cred­ited with bring­ing gen­er­a­tions of an­glers into the sport, thanks to his Chan­nel 4 se­ries Go Fish­ing in the 1980s and ’90s.

John, who was born in En­field, North Lon­don, earned his liv­ing in hair­dress­ing, the mer­chant navy and print­ing, be­fore find­ing his spir­i­tual home in Nor­folk.

He opened a tackle shop,

The Tackle Den, in Nor­wich, in 1971, liv­ing a few miles away in Great Witch­ing­ham. He adored long trot­ting for roach on his favourite River Wen­sum.

John be­came a house­hold name thanks to the Go Fish­ing se­ries made by Anglian TV, star­ring in 108 mem­o­rable pro­grammes over 17 con­sec­u­tive years from 1986. This was fol­lowed by five years with the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel. He also wrote for the Sun­day and Daily Ex­press for 11 years.

He re­tired to live in Thai­land five years ago, with wife Jo, de­vel­op­ing a fan­tas­tic lake stocked with big fish. Ear­lier this year he re­vealed his wish to re­turn to Nor­folk to see his six grand­chil­dren grow up, but had prob­lems sell­ing his prop­erty.

John was also a pro­lific au­thor, writ­ing or con­tribut­ing to 20 books. And he de­signed his own tackle – a range of rods, reels and po­larised sun­glasses. His most fa­mous cre­ation was the Master­line Avon Quiver rod, with its in­ter­change­able top sec­tions for trot­ting or leg­ering.

In John’s last ma­jor in­ter­view, given to An­gling Di­rect’s YouTube Chan­nel in June, he re­vealed: “I re­ally miss long trot­ting for chub on the Wen­sum, and grayling on the Test and Avon in Hamp­shire.

“I first started catch­ing fish at five or six, putting Nora Batty-style stock­ings around a coathanger and ty­ing it to a gar­den cane, for stone loach, min­nows and sticke­backs from lit­tle streams around En­field.

“I then pro­gressed onto a gar­den cane and then trot­ting for roach on the River Lea.

“I never set out to do tele­vi­sion shows, it just hap­pened.

“I hope all the books and TV shows will be a legacy. I hope they will stand the next gen­er­a­tion in good stead, like my hero Dick Walker in the 1950s and ’60s.

“My favourite TV show was called Weir­pool Magic in Go Fish­ing, and I was on the Wen­sum at Len­wade Mill. I caught roach of 2 lb 9 oz 8 dr and 2 lb 10 oz 8 dr that you just couldn’t du­pli­cate to­day. I also had some bream and a pike on a lit­tle bait­cast­ing-style rod.

“My dream fish would be a

3 lb roach caught long trot­ting, but I only had them to 2 lb 14 oz.

“My big­gest fish was a 420 lb fresh­wa­ter stingray from Thai­land, and other mem­o­rable catches that stand out are mah­seer of 81 lb and 91 lb caught very close to­gether, plus on three oc­ca­sions I had good catches of big perch on the Great Ouse that in­cluded three over 4 lb,” said John, who earned an MBE for ser­vices to an­gling.

How John will be re­mem­bered by his many fans – hold­ing a big fish, and wear­ing a big smile.

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