Our series of Ch 4 films, ‘Catching the Impossible’ are still going strong and still showing on Discovery Channel. It’s a series of three DVD’s, with three one hour films on each disc and for sale on www.calmproductions.com
Our star angler and close friend Martin Bowler is getting busier by the day and he and wife Jo are making films, writing books and articles, blogging, facebooking etc. and rapidly developing their business. We have plans to release the series on pay per view via their website – www.martinbowler.co.uk
The big book of the series, beautifully produced by MPress is also available from Martin and Jo’s on-line shop and is on special offer at £12, cheap for such a lavishly illustrated book describing a unique adventure, even for a door-stop!
Co-star Bernard Cribbins was hoping to join us for our annual ‘fish-in’ but is so busy with BBC radio and TV series that he couldn’t make it this year. We had to ‘make do’ with Chris Yates instead but he didn’t let us down, catching a beautiful two pound perch on his ancient tackle.
The only sad aspect of all this success is the decline of so much of our available fishing. The series title ‘Catching the Impossible’ was simply a device as nothing is impossible … but it is now! Martin believes that attempting to make the series today would be madness and it took us more than four years when it was possible. Many of our rivers have declined so much that many of our targets are simply out of reach.
I'll eventually be posting all seven films I made for various wildlife charities last year on a new blog 'Hugh Miles - Wildlife Adventures'
and adding the reasons why I made them. We hope you'll find them informative and interesting if and when you have time to view.
However, as you'll see by viewing the series 'Catching the Impossible', Martin, Bernard and friends did achieve an amazing number of goals and the story of how they did it is still out there on DVD for you to enjoy. We hope you do.
3lb roach, 5lb perch and 7lb chub, 10lb tench, 44lb carp and 30lb pike – not bad is it!
Catching the Impossible Newsletter November 2011
What a busy but enjoyable year we've had, with plenty of film-making to keep me off the river banks. However, looking through my diary, it does look as though we have been fishing quite a lot!
The year started with a grand gathering of friends in Martin Bowler's local pub to celebrate his birthday. Seeing him singing karaoke in a grass skirt should come with a government health warning. Despite that, we repeated the gathering in July...without the karaoke - instead the generous gathering raised money for Macmillan Nurses.
Winter outings to the Hampshire Avon after those legendary roach were memorable not just for the occasional two pounder but for the three bitterns that kept flying past - a real treat.
Our annual Mahseer trip to India was better than ever, with wonderful company, great birding and a succession of big fish to over 30lbs. Pete Reading got his usual biggey, although none of them matched the size of the crocodiles that two of our happy party hooked. Luckily they got smashed before any limbs were lost!
March saw me on the H.Avon trying to create a feature with "Improve Your Coarse Fishing" - I needed to! Though I didn't blank, I didn't get the two pounder that I hoped for and a few days later; despite getting a 5/4 chub on the pole, I blanked on the final day. I blamed the weather of course.
I made up for these failures by catching a three pounder for the Anglers Mail during a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days at Linch Hill with friend Gary Newman.
I had already started work on two new films, one on the Avon Roach Project...www.avonroachproject.co.uk and one for the Dorset Wildlife Trust on the River Allen which we posted on this website earlier in the year. I have since upgraded the film to add more water vole and include otters. The roach project, led by fishing pals Trevor Harrop and Budgie Price has proved to be a remarkable success, though not without a great deal of hard work. However, this labour of love by us roach fanatics led to the winning of the Fred J Taylor Conservation Award, presented to Trev and Budgie at the Game Fair by the Angling Trust’s Director, Mark Lloyd. We all hope that the tens of thousands of young roach that will be released into the Avon over the next few years will result in the return of the once famous roach fishing on this iconic river.
It is truly rewarding to be able to contribute to the work of the Wildlife Trusts and other conservation organisations such as the Salmon and Trout Association and Angling Trust. We give our services free, not only because they can't afford to make films but because it is a way of giving something back to nature at a time when wildlife needs all the help it can get.
Many of our southern rivers are the lowest they've been in living memory and unless we get a wet winter, fish life will decline even more. At least two thirds of our rivers fail government and European guidelines, mainly due to lack of fish, and without adequate water, all wildlife will suffer. Top of the aquatic food chain is that most popular of animals, the otter, and they are now having to scratch around all day just to catch a few little bullheads. They are also ranging far and wide for food, raiding valuable carp fisheries and even garden ponds - like ours! We suffered raids for six weeks until sadly, the hungry youngster was killed last week on the road just outside our garden ; the few surviving fish are relieved!
I've started work on a film for the Angling Trust and Predation Action Group on the problems our freshwater wildlife faces because of the balance of nature becoming skewed. American signal crayfish and invading European cormorants are denuding fish stocks like there's no tomorrow, and although it is a treat for the public to be able to go and watch hungry otters in the middle of a town in broad daylight, the privilege is likely to be short-lived. Eventually, when all the fish are gone, they will starve to death...and what of the herons and kingfishers, grebes and bitterns, even perhaps the osprey? We need to try to save our rivers and wetlands and we need to do it NOW, before it's too late.
I tried to get this message across on the BBC's "Springwatch" last year but I was 'dumbed down'...and I was pretty dumb already! But Sue and I and our friends will continue to make films in the hope of improving our fish life in the future.
And what of our angling adventures? The start of the season was the usual happy occasion of lots of tea and Sue's special cake with fishing friends Chris Wild (my computer guru), Trevor Harrop of Avon roach fame and the infamous Mr. Yates. We all caught a few big crucians too - a splendid day.
One memorable day in July stands out for the variety of species caught. I started with 2lb roach and perch at Sway, then owner Tim took me out on the Solent in his boat and we caught mackerel and black bream. Then I joined Trev, Budgie and Chris at Beeches Brook and stalked a nice carp - variety the spice of life - oh yes.
Mahseer magic friend Steve joined us for a stint of mullet madness out in Christchurch Harbour, I started a film with another Mahseer friend Pete Reading, showing members of the Barbel Society and others how to handle barbel safely. I joined Martin for a barbel feature for Angling Times and when I returned to the spot, caught a 20lb pike on a boilie that only weighed 14½ lbs ... nothing to eat see...
In Sept. I joined a bunch of keen angling MPs on the River Test with the S & TA so that they could get their ears bent about our beleaguered rivers as well as their rods. Even Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon took the time and trouble to come along and discuss the problems with S&TA Director Paul Knight and he admired MP Tracey Crouch’s nice trout. She had never even held a rod before but caught four – more than any of the guys – beginners luck or pheromones? … good to see fishing pal Martin Salter back from Australia too. No doubt all anglers will benefit from his energetic contribution to the issues over the coming years, as he always did when an MP.
I visited the Fens in the hope of a 2lb rudd and caught this 2/4 beauty and looking back, it does seem like I've spent an awful lot of time fishing. In mitigation, I did finish the River Allen film, along with the Avon Roach project film, helped the BBC with one or two bits and made a start on the barbel and predation films. I plan to add to the chalk stream project, edit an otter story and maybe even make a bass fishing film, so watch this space.
On the dark side, we still suffer from pirates who illegally copy our series and these thieves are stealing the money that allows us to make films that in turn try to help our freshwater wildlife and especially our fish. So please don't buy these counterfeit copies. They might be cheap but they are inferior quality and threaten to stop us making any more films, for we can’t afford to do it without a small return on our investment.
On a happier note, perhaps our highlight of the year was a gathering of the "Catching" crew on the Test, friend John Slader kindly fixing us a day on the Orvis beat. Bernard, Martin and I hadn't shared a river bank together since we completed the series, so it was a splendid day, especially as we all caught plenty of "Spotty Herberts". Sue's cake went down well too.
If you want to meet us all for a chat, along with Chris Yates and a big bunch of angling pals, please come along to the Lands End Inn, Twyford, RG10 0UE on Saturday 19th Nov. from 12.30. You can buy signed copies of our film series and books, Martin’s too, or if all else fails, buy us a beer!
Thank you from Sue and I, Martin and Bernard for all your support and kind messages about our series. We haven't broken even yet but we're heading in the right direction. In the meantime, we'll try to enjoy our fishing as much as we always do, and we always enjoy Sue's cake!
P.S. Oh, I nearly forgot. At Guildford in July, I was awarded an Honorary Degree by the college where I studied film-making, the University of the Creative Arts. I was honoured in recognition of my wildlife film-making achievements, the downside being that I had to give a speech to a cathedral full of strangers - very daunting. I can now put BA after my name; I'll leave you to decide what the BA stands for!
- LIQUID GOLD -
A Celebration of Chalk Streams
"Our rivers are in trouble, threatened by a catalogue of problems, not least the lack of water. So as a passionate conservationist I’m keen to make people aware of how valuable our chalk streams are and raise the profile of their extraordinary wildlife, including the fish that are so often overlooked but vital to wetland ecosystems throughout Britain. Chalk streams are wonderful places and we all need to save water to ensure their future survival.”
During the next two years I will make one full length film and several others of various lengths to help promote the work of the Dorset Wildlife Trust and to raise the awareness of the general public and children to the importance of chalk streams and their rich diversity of wildlife.
The first introductory film will be completed by early April 2011 and will use Dorset's River Allen as an example of a prime chalk stream and attempt to show interaction between species and how the food chain works. Trying to make the local Wessex communities aware of the importance of fresh water would be a major goal.
If we can inspire the local community to care for the river and support the work of the Trust then it will be job done.
Catching the Impossible Newsletter January 2011
Thank you all for your encouragement and support along the way, a vital ingredient on the long journey. Our first days shooting was July 22nd 2004 and we finally made it onto terrestrial TV on June 13th 2010, almost six years from start to finish. And was it worth it? You bet. Hard work maybe, but how can you beat visiting so many lovely waters with Martin and Bernard and a galaxy of star anglers … and so many are friends too. And then there were all those "Impossible" fish – and with the declines in fish populations since our filming, they are now!
The Avon Roach Project is going from strength to strength, and I helped Trevor Harrop and keeper Pete Orchard prepare the pools at Longford for the protection of the previous years fry. These will be grown on until three years old, when they will be released into suitably carefully managed habitats in the Avon, the long term aim being to create self-sustaining populations of roach in areas they once thrived. The predatory cormorant hordes are being tackled by the Angling Trust and by many of us anglers who have witnessed the recent dramatic declines.
I fish with Trevor quite frequently as he too is a roach addict – accompanied by Sue’s wonderful cake of course .... and by way of a reward for our work on the project, this roach of 2lb 14ozs was a gift, and Trev's brace of 2's likewise. If you want to read more about the project visit www.avonroachproject.co.uk - I'll be making a film about it this year too in order to help raise funds for the project as it’s all self-financed by us roach anglers.
The BBC invited me up to Norfolk to contribute to "Springwatch" and though the sequences were brief and lacked 'conservation substance', it was an honour to be able to get freshwater fish onto prime-time TV five nights running.
"Catching the Impossible" finally made it onto TV too, so I was on two terrestrial channels in the same week! I had spent the whole Spring versioning the films for commercial TV, which meant cutting out 11 minutes and editing for the adverts but it was worth it, for Ch 4 were delighted with the viewing figures. We actually trebled their normal audience for that crazy early morning slot, so we will be getting a repeat on Ch 4 in the Spring and in the meantime it's on Discovery.
None of this would have been possible without my computer guru, Chris Wild, for he patiently steered me through the labyrinth of computer editing. He's a fishing pal now and I helped him catch this 2lb 4oz crucian, several others too, and during his first attempt at pole fishing – impressive. Trev and I enjoyed some wonderful sunny days too, in between finishing the final programmes of the series.
Another lifetime ambition is to do more fly fishing, so Loch Corrib in Western Ireland with friend Steve Yeo provided the ultimate challenge ... all we caught was a salmon. The brownies on the River Test are a lot easier. Here's MP Charles Walker with a nice one and my 'ghillie' John Slader with a big one. For many years I'd wanted to go Bonefishing, so eventually I went with John on one of Graham Peplar’s trips to the Bahamas for a few days. What a wonderful holiday, warm sun, blue sea, white sand and silver fish...they pull a bit too!
What a cold contrast on return! Beautiful it was but not fishing weather, so I made a film on the River Wye instead, to celebrate it being voted the UK’s ‘Best River’, viewable on the "Our Rivers" website www.ourrivers.org.uk (...and here too). It was created for the WWF, the RSPB, the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Assoc. in the hope that it will help to build bridges between the conservation organisations. Perhaps they will all become more aware of the problems our rivers face and the vital part our fish play in the rich diversity of life. And as a final thought, apart from asking you not to buy thieves counterfeit copies of our series or to download illegally, please join the Angling Trust. They need all our help and we need theirs if our rivers are to survive and support healthy populations of fish.
As for the future, my daughter asked me to list all the films I have ever made and it came to 66 wildlife films, plus more than 30 when I was at the BBC. At a 100 not out maybe I should quit while I'm winning … and go fishing!
Described by the Angling Times as “the greatest fishing show ever made”, we have finally secured a series of showings on terrestrial television. Ch 4 will be airing the series ‘off-peak’ – Sunday mornings at 07.00 from 13th June to 1st August. Yes, I know it’s early! But maybe watching it before you go out fishing will provide you with the inspiration needed to help you catch your own ‘impossible’ sized fish.
Ch 4 plan to repeat the series in the Spring, and if you all watch and provide them with a big audience, maybe they will give us a more ‘accessible’ slot and we can show ‘proper’ UK fishing with our best anglers to an even wider audience.
When Martin Bowler, Bernard Cribbins and I started filming on July 22nd 2004, our ultimate goal was to get the series shown on terrestrial television. Our aim was to raise the profile of angling and Britain’s freshwater fish and if we succeeded, it would help to highlight the many problems facing our fish.
Achieving a showing was probably the most ‘impossible’ catch of them all, despite Martin, Bernard and friends catching some truly remarkable specimens. For me, I guess the 32lb pike, the 44lb carp, the 5lb perch and above all the 3lb 5oz river roach stand out, but there were so many amazing catches it is difficult to believe it really happened.
Filming for over five years while trying to catch our “impossible” sized fish was challenging, but the enjoyment we had and the kindness and generosity shown us by the many land-owners, bailiffs and angling friends was remarkable. We can never thank them enough.
However, if we succeed in attracting big audiences for the series then maybe other broadcasters will be encouraged to show more ‘proper’ fishing, free of celebrities and hype, and all our contributors will feel it is mission accomplished. So please tell your friends to watch too.
We have had to edit out eleven minutes of our completed films to accommodate the commercial breaks, and in case you think we are going to get rich from a TV ‘sale’, this process of re-editing is actually costing more than the fee we are being paid. Sadly, our “making of” – Episode 9 won’t be shown, so if you want to view the unedited films, then we’d be delighted if you would purchase the DVDs. Everyone involved during the last five years has invested a huge amount of time for free, let alone the £400,000+ we have spent on making the programmes and though we weren’t foolish enough to create the films with a view to turning a profit, the sale of DVDs will help us to recoup some of the expense.
Freshwater fish conservation is my mission in life, so our other news is also encouraging. I have finally convinced the BBC that they should be looking below the surface of our rivers and lakes for new wildlife stories and last October the BBC made a little film about me and the filming of roach and barbel in the Hampshire Avon.
This will be shown on “Springwatch” on the 7th June I believe, with further short sequences to be shown on the 8th, 9th and 10th June. I will be concentrating on the River Wensum’s roach, barbel and trout, and maybe carp and tench on some of the local lakes. On April 28th I filmed roach spawning for the Avon Roach Project and hope to add barbel spawning on the Wensum, maybe even ‘live’ on the box.
The Roach Project, masterminded by Trevor Harrop and Budgie Price is wonderful, and going from strength to strength. Now in it’s third year, Trevor, Pete Orchard and I recently completed the ponds into which last years ‘babies’ have been released for growing on ….. thousands of them …. and eventually they will be released into the Avon to create self-sustaining populations of lovely fat roach. Need to keep the cormorants controlled, but that is another story. The whole project is funded by voluntary contributions, with some help from the EA, so if you have more than a few pennies to rub together, please contribute to the work and the habitat restoration we have planned for the future. To read more, please visit the “Avon Roach Project” website. www.avonroachproject.co.uk
Roach spawning filming and action, the baby roach and the pools for release with Trev and Pete.
All this conservation work and wildlife film-making has reduced my fishing to virtually nil, but on one memorable visit to Sway Lakes, this magnificent 2lb 14oz roach showed up, along with one of 2lb 4oz and six others of around 1lb 12oz., all on a tiny waggler and single red maggot on a 20 hook – proper fishing.
On completing the making of “Impossible”, I treated myself to a long held ambition of fishing for mahseer in S.India and Pete Reading and I had a wonderful time, catching plenty of amazing looking fish. What a beautiful place it is too.
Was also invited to the R.Test by Martin Salter and we caught some lovely roach. He also honoured us by inviting Sue and I to a dinner at the Houses of Parliament to celebrate his retirement as an MP. There were several other fishing pals there, including Fisheries Ministers and shadow ones too …. all mad keen anglers which is great for the future, regardless of who is governing us when you read this. But we sure will miss Martin and his energetic and forthright defence of angling and the environment in which fish live.
Now the filming is all complete, I realise what a rare privilege it has been to explore the alien worlds of our wonderful freshwater rivers and lakes and to search for the mysterious monsters that swim in these landscapes of surprising beauty.
In this International Year of Biodiversity, I was surprised to learn that of the World’s known species, 40% of them live in freshwater habitats, so there is still a lot of conservation filming for Sue and I to do if we’re to make a difference. In fact, all of us should get out there and contribute to the pressing need to conserve our precious and increasingly rare freshwater fish. If we don’t, I fear that all our ‘impossible’ sized fish will be consigned to history.
Newsletter from Hugh and Sue Miles November 6th 2009
We are very happy to report that the series is finally complete, programme nine “The Ones That Got Away” having been wrapped up only yesterday. It made everybody laugh in the studios in Bristol, so we are sure it will work for you too. It has been such fun making the series these past five and a half years and this film captures the enjoyment and laughter perfectly.
Programmes seven and eight show lots of truly monstrous fish being landed, so we hope you enjoy the climax of our journey around Britain in search of “impossible” sized fish.
Nothing is impossible of course, and if you are a specimen angler, maybe you too will rise to the challenge and see how many of our “impossibles” you can catch each year. We’d love to hear how you get on and you could let the angling press know too. We’ll try to run a competition with prizes for the angler who catches the most each year…and we hope, like us, that you won’t cheat!
Martin, Bernard and our friends caught eleven of our seventeen “impossibles” during our four years filming, with the other six only a few ounces short, but whatever your ambition, remember that you are meant to enjoy the quest and that fishing is just a bit of fun.
I haven’t had much time for fishing in recent months but when I have escaped from the editing, it sure has been enjoyable. Roach are my favourite species and I’ve caught lots of big ones on the pole this year, with this 2lb 6oz specimen the most immaculate of several two pounders.
Went fishing with Martin in the summer for an Angling Times feature. Nothing unusual in that you might think, but this time the tables were turned. Martin was behind the camera and I was the one who had to catch a fish! But with Martin’s advice and deadly rig, I managed a couple of good barbel, though he wouldn’t give me ten pounds for the largest. I’ve since had a couple more of about the same size, on my own this time, and they are such splendid, hard fighting fish that I wonder why I don’t fish for the golden beauties more often.
Chris Yates and I were asked by Kev Green to catch some big crucians for “Improve Your Course Fishing” and we had a thoroughly enjoyable day, partly because we both caught crucians to 2lbs 12ozs. But the pressure to “deliver” certainly makes you respect even more the achievements of Martin, Bernard and friends in our quest for big fish. I enjoyed the extra challenge, but probably only because we caught lots of big ones!
I was very kindly invited onto the R.Test for the second year running by S&TA stalwart John Slader and we had a great day sipping tea and eating cake, in between having a few casts for the beautiful trout...and we caught lots too. After that treat I couldn't refuse the request to make four conservation films for them could I, so my next series is already lined up...and there was I thinking I might have time to go fishing! Dream on....
When we had finished editing the films last week, I had a memorable day of celebration with Chris Yates and Trevor Harrop (of roach project fame – see links). We fished in a peaceful little lake, caught lots of good roach to a pound and one or two good perch, and all this was interspersed by generous quantities of kelly kettle tea and big slices of Sue’s famous cake. What a great day.
Due to the success of “Catching the Impossible”, I was asked to film a little sequence on underwater fish for the BBC’s “Autumnwatch”, concentrating on roach and barbel and got some lovely shots for them. I’ve been dubbed their “Rivers Man”, so watch out for me in the future on ‘Celebrity Come Dancing’ and ‘Get Me Out of Here’…no chance, I’ll be out fishing!
The response to our series has been terrific, and thank you for all your complimentary letters. We hope you enjoy the final three films, and the book if you haven’t read it yet.
If you’re lucky enough to go fishing, catch one for me please…and here’s wishing you all a good Christmas and a fish filled year ahead.
Hugh & Sue
P.S. To give you an idea of the response to the films, here’s a small selection of the comments in the press and on your blogs:
“The greatest angling show ever made…simply breathtaking” - Angling Times.
“I can still remember watching ‘A Passion for Angling’ and from what I’ve seen of “Catching the Impossible” it is going to be even better - Anglers’ Mail.
“This is a proper fishing programme and perfectly catches all the aspects that make us go fishing…the underwater footage reminded me of the BBC’s “Blue Planet” series”. Gary Newman – Anglers’ Mail.
Headline in Anglers’ Mail: “’Catching the Impossible’
MUST be seen on BBC TV”.
“Anglings’ equivalent of the BBC’s ‘Planet Earth’ series”.
“…made hair stand up on the back of my neck…”
“Martin Bowler’s film was incredible”.
“An amazing underwater photographic journey along the Hampshire Avon…the like of which has never been seen before” - The Salisbury Journal.“
…head and shoulders above other angling programmes”.
“…it looks absolutely wonderful”.
“The most celebrated fishing films ever made”
.“After “A Passion for Angling”, an eager audience wanted more – only better. “Catching the Impossible” didn’t disappoint.”
“20 yrs. later he has raised the bar, setting an even higher standard with a series that features awesome underwater footage…”
“The book is a true classic” - John Wilson.
“ I have never seen anything like it. Fantastic, I need a copy now.”
“ …this is gonna be wicked…maybe one to match passion for angling?”
“ hello im only 12 years old and i love ur videos its awesome!”
“…nothing short of a master piece. hugh miles rocks…”
“ Bernard Cribbins Narrating Legend!”
“ …these wonderful films showing the beauty of our country and the wildlife…”
“ Excellent set of DVD’s and the book is worth getting too.”
“ …a fantastic formula! Inspiring stuff.”
“ looks great, about time as well, it’s been many years since
“a passion for…” well done to the team who made it.”
Newsletter from Hugh and Sue Miles ......... Release of films 4 to 6 ......... July 2009
An update from us is long overdue, our excuse being that we’ve been burning the candle at three ends to finish the next three films in our series, “Catching the Impossible”.
No 4, “A Sport for All Seasons” is complete, No 5, a glorious journey down the Hampshire Avon called “Going Against the Flow” is virtually finished, and No 6 “A Winter’s Gift” is only awaiting its music to be composed and recorded and that will be complete too. The films contain some suitably ‘impossible’ sized fish and if they are received with the same enthusiasm as the first three, then we will be well pleased.
They will be on sale from the beginning of August, from ‘Calm Productions’ as before, and with improvements in the available ‘man-power’, we hope to avoid the delays that a few of you experienced with the last release. The company just didn’t expect to be swamped by the thousands of orders you sent in, so on their behalf, our apologies to you unlucky ones who suffered delays.
Because I’ve been working night and day on the editing, I’m not complaining – I love making films – I haven’t been fishing much, but the few days I’ve escaped have proved particularly lucky. On my first day on the rivers last winter, the 12th March I caught a PB chub of 7lb 1oz, followed next cast by a roach of 1lb 15oz
Then in May, fishing with a pole on a carp lake, I had seven roach over two pounds, with a best of 2lb 10oz…a wonderful days fishing as it included a 7lb 14oz tench ; I never knew elastic could stretch so far!
Then on the glorious 16th I joined Chris Yates so we could chill out on a lovely little crucian lake and enjoy tea and Sue’s delicious cake. We caught lots of tench too, and plenty of crucians up to 2lb 4oz. Chris returned there the next day and got a PB crucian of 2lb 151/2oz (no picture of that one sadly as I had to edit film No 7).
The last three films of the series should be available in early November, then I plan to do a lot more fishing.
In the meantime, catch one for me and enjoy.
With our best wishes,
Hugh & Sue
I’m a very lucky man! Not only do I spend my life making wildlife films around the world on such wonderful critters as tigers, polar bears and snow leopards but I’m also an angler and that takes me even closer to nature because I actually get to touch it …assuming I’m not blanking of course!
As many of you know, so long as we don’t take the catching of fish too seriously, angling can transport us to another world, a place of peace and relaxation, of sparkling rivers and mist shrouded pools. And in this increasingly manic world, we sure do need the time and space that fishing gives us.
Some of the best days of my life have been spent just “being there”, out on the banks of some beautiful river or lake and during this past four years I’ve been particularly lucky because an awful lot of my time has been lived “out there”, creating a series of eight one hour films which attempt to celebrate angling and Britain’s freshwater world.
The series is called “Catching the Impossible”, a journey through angling, with specimen hunting at the heart of each film. Our story teller is that wonderful voice from “A Passion for Angling”, Bernard Cribbins, the difference being that this time he gets to fish, and with success and humour too.
Joining him is that ace angler Martin Bowler who I call the “Tiger Woods of angling” because when it comes to catching fish he gets so many “holes in one”. I set our seventeen targets for the films so high that I described them as “impossible” but Martin and Bernard, along with a galaxy of eccentric friends caught almost all of them.
Notable among them were: 15lb 7oz barbel, 4lb 4oz crucian carp, 44lb 4oz common carp – on a float! a 5lb 4oz perch, a 32lb 6oz pike and from our local River Stour, Terry Lampard caught a 7lb 4oz chub and a 3lb 5oz roach, not just “impossible” but incredible!
One of the aspects of filming that I enjoyed most was our successful attempts to film underwater fish behaviour of all the major species. It was so exciting that I almost preferred filming fish to catching them, but not quite!
The DVD of Programmes 1-3 of the series and the lovely
book we wrote about our adventures is now on sale,
so that should solve your Christmas present problems!
Newsletter from Hugh and Sue Miles .............. 9 September 2008
These are exciting times for Sue and I here at Chillbrook Croft as our “Catching the Impossible” is nearing completion and the release of the first three films and the book is imminent.
This celebration of angling and Britain’s freshwater world started its planning and research stage about four and a half years ago. Martin Bowler and I started production on July 22nd 2007, when we filmed our first “impossible”, the catching of a giant barbel of 15lbs 7ozs from the Great Ouse.
Since then we’ve been joined by Bernard Cribbins and a galaxy of good friends and enjoyed a wonderful journey through angling. In part, this eight programme series is a portrait of modern specimen hunting, along with other elements of course, not least the surprisingly beautiful underwater world of our treasured fish. We know that many people are already filming such favourites as carp and barbel underwater, but we have tried to show the complete variety of our freshwater species and weave their presence into our stories of their capture.
We’ve nearly completed filming now and I have about eight months editing to go to complete the series. As some of you will be aware, we’ve been sounding out the TV channels to assess our chances of a showing next year, and contrary to reports in the press, we do have some interest from various places.
However, as a decision is some way off, Martin, Sue and I have decided to release the first three programmes on DVD this autumn in the hope that you will like what you see and spread the word. We can then use those opinions as ‘ammunition’ in our attempt to get the series onto the TV.
Test showings in such places as the NEC ‘Go Fishing Show’ and the ‘Game Fair’ have been extremely encouraging, so fingers crossed that you think it will make a good Christmas present, if only to ensure we have enough cash in the kitty to pay for the completion of the rest of the series!
Martin and I have given our time free for the past four years and the films have been self-financed. This has been a gesture of gratitude for the enjoyment we have had from angling since our childhood; we hope you think our efforts are worthwhile.
Our aim is to try to promote our sport by showing the benefits angling brings to the environment and society as a whole, so this is our schedule:
Programmes 1 – 3 - available October 2008
Programmes 4 – 6 – available Spring 2009
Programmes 7 – 9 – available Summer 2009
You will notice there is a ninth programme (which isn’t scheduled in the TV series). This will be a ‘Directors Cut’ with a bit of behind the scenes ‘making of’ and several of the sequences we couldn’t use in the main shows….along with ‘cock-ups’ etc. It should be fun.
The book of the series by Martin and I is a full account of our adventures and will also be available in October/November 2008. Full details can be found elsewhere on this website.
Best of luck in your fishing, and enjoy….
With best wishes
Hugh & Sue
Newsletter from Hugh Miles .............. 23 February 2008 I have been a mad keen angler all my life, and ever since I caught a large roach when still a small boy, big redfins have been my favourite quarry. However, I love all forms of angling and it’s given me so much enjoyment that like “A Passion for Angling”, [ which I made for the BBC with Chris Yates and Bob James ], this new series of films will try to repay this debt of gratitude by benefiting angling as a whole, by showing fishing in a good light, and encouraging more into the sport. Martin and I are well aware that we could achieve this best if we manage to get a showing on television and there is considerable interest from several channels. We’ll keep you posted.
Being a wildlife film-maker I’m constantly in search of new stories, and I was aware that not much has ever been shown on television of freshwater fish and their natural behaviour, underwater and truly wild. There has always been an enthusiastic audience for British wildlife so what better than to show them something they’d never seen. We’re beginning to get to grips with this new challenge and the results are fascinating, in fact I almost enjoy filming fish as much as catching them - but not quite !
Apart from the underwater world and the beauty of the other freshwater wildlife around Britain, we are also keen that our series will be a portrait of modern specimen hunting, so we have filmed virtually all the species and used pretty much every technique available. We’ve also been privileged to guest appearances from many of the sport’s best loved characters, such as [in no particular order of importance ! ] Chris Yates, Des Taylor, Bob Church, Frank Warwick, Terry Lampard and Tim Norman, Pete Reading, John Wilson and several young ladies !
As for the story itself, I devised a challenge for Martin and our friends who will fish with us. It struck me as potentially entertaining if our anglers had target weights for each species and we set these so high that they would carry the ‘Impossible’ tag.......and if they found them too easy, then I’d just raise the target .....just to keep them interested of course ! We feel sure that anglers will find this combination of seriously big fish and underwater action inspiring and judging by the reactions from those who have seen some of the sequences, non anglers are amazed at the size of the monsters that we’ve caught.
Thanks to the skill and determination of Martin and friends, and the generous help of so many landowners and fisheries, the results are pretty stunning. As has been pointed out, the film’s PB list is the equal of most anglers catches for a whole lifetime, yet we’ve only been filming for three and a half years. Barbel of fifteen pounds, a forty-four pound common stalked with a float, several ten pound tench, a crucian just five ounces short of the record, a three pound river roach, a thirty two pound pike and a river record perch of five pounds four ounces - and that’s just some of the catches.
However, as they say, “there’s more to fishing than catching fish”, and to ensure the whole epic journey doesn’t become too serious, Bernard Cribbins will be suitably jovial about the process of tracking down monsters. Bernard did a lovely job narrating “A Passion for Angling”, the difference this time being that he gets to fish. He too is a mad keen angler and as if to confirm his years of experience, he’s shown Martin a thing or two and never blanked, even with salmon on the Royalty.
Martin and I have committed four and a half years of our lives trying to make the series of eight one hour films a bit special. I’m filming and editing day and night, it will cost me half a million quid, and if I don’t run out of money and time then we hope to have it complete by the winter of 2008.
We’re writing a full account of our adventures, and the book will be available in October ....and we might release the first four films on DVD then too, but I’m not sure they’ll be finished in time. Anyway, we’ll update you on progress at this site when time allows. This frosty scene was taken when filming grayling fishing just last week.
If you want to order “A Passion for Angling” on DVD - or a film about Chris Yates’s favourite carp lake, “Caught in Time” then please visit our other website www.passionforangling.info