King Fishers

National Geographic Channel
King Fishers is shown on the National Geographic Channel.

King Fishers is an angling TV show which is based around setting three anglers from different parts of the world against each other in a competition. In each episode of the show each angler must organise a competitive fishing session in their own territory and then provide food and hospitality for the other competitors. They are scored in both of these areas with the winning anglers being declared the King Fisher and presented with a trophy. Comic actor Stephen Mangan provides the commentary.

Anglers are drawn from all across the world for this programme. In the first episode features Pepper from the United States (but living in Brazil), Sean from England and Kevin from Canada. Other episodes feature anglers from places as diverse as England, Ireland, Thailand, Belize, South Africa, Australia, Canada and Sweden.

One of the strengths of this programme is that it is not restricted to any particular type of fishing and we get to see fishing locations all around the world – from kayaking in Costa Rica, to river fishing in England and ice fishing within the Arctic Circle, King Fishers certainly has an international scope. Sometimes the sheer variation in fishing produces bizarre contrasts – one episode sees anglers switch from fishing for 100kg tuna in South Africa straight to fishing for 2oz freshwater fish in the UK. The format of the show is also interesting as anglers from very different backgrounds are thrown together. For example one episode sees an anglers flyfishing in Belize, beach fishing in Ireland and ice fishing in Sweden. Anglers must try their best to win, while also guiding and instructing the other two anglers how to catch fish, and then providing good hosting and hospitality in order to win more points.

Stephen Mangan
Comic actor Stephen Mangan narrates King Fishers.

There is little discussion of tactics and fishing equipment as this show is certainly trying its best to appeal to a general audience. There are useful diagrams and animations of the rigs and techniques that are used but these do not go into a great deal of detail, and most anglers viewing this programme would almost certainly be keen to find out more. However, the show itself is fast paced and fits in fishing in three different venues around the world into its hour running length, and benefits from high production values and amusing commentary from Mangan. As well as seeing the competitiveness of anglers and get to see how host anglers often keep information or tactics back to advantage themselves. For example in one episode Eugene from Ireland takes the other two competitors fishing for bass on the Dingle Peninsula. When the bass don’t show he changes tactics and begins casting a short distance for flounder. He neglects to tell the others that he has done this and begins to catch.

Interesting idea for a show but a major flaw is that the hosting skills of the competitors is taken into account as well. This means that contests are skewered and people end up with a lot of points because they put on a good meal or entertainment, even if they have only caught a tiny number of fish. In one episode someone wins by catching a 13cm fish, even though another competitor caught a 10.5 ft fish! The hosting idea is reminiscent of a show such as ‘Come Dine With Me’ and seems out of place in an angling based show.

Overall, kingfishers is a very entertaining show, strengthened by the range of fishing styles and number of international venues it encompasses. Viewers expecting a show about hardcore anglers fishing intense competitions may be disappointed as this is very much a light entertainment show which is aimed at a general audience and does not go into great detail when it comes to discussing tactics or tackle. Furthermore, the hosting part of the show seems badly misplaces, but this is still a good fishing programme that UK anglers are sure to enjoy.