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Greatest angler of all time honoured at memorial service

A memorial service was held recently at Norwich Cathedral for . Named by the Angling Times as the greatest angler of all time in 2004, Wilson was known by many for his television programmes which covered diverse subjects from coarse fishing to sea angling.

Fishing the world

John Wilson died at the age of 75 in 2018. He had fished all over the world and at incredible locations including the River Nile, the Zambezi, the Fraser River system and River Ebro. He also fished throughout UK. His target species were as varied as his chosen locations. Wilson fished for coarse fish such as pike and carp but also more exotic species including sturgeon, shark and catfish. He was a skilled and knowledgeable angler but it was his passion for the sport which set him apart.

An angling legend

This angling legend had been presenting TV shows for more than 20 years. He had written roughly 20 books about the subject and was awarded an MBE for his services to angling in 2009. He lived in Norfolk until 2013 where he fished on his local River Wensum and owned his own lake complex but he then emigrated to Thailand. He had intended to move back o the UK but suffered a stroke and died two days later.

Spotted in an angling shop

John Wilson’s Television career began after he was spotted in a Norwich tackle shop by TV executives. One wonders if they may have had a tip-off! Wilson would go on to present no less than 160 episodes of Anglia television’s popular programme, Go Fishing. He also appeared on Channel 4 and Discovery Real Time. His final series was John Wilson's Dream Fishing which aired on Discovery in 2009.

Passionate presenter

A very natural presenter, Wilson simply explained what he was thinking. He possessed an infectious laugh which added to his considerable appeal. His approach to broadcasting and his evident enthusiasm was to inspire many people to try the sport and to travel in pursuit of their record catch.

Wilson wrote a column for the Sunday Express newspaper until 2009 and continued to write within the UK angling press until his untimely death.

Remembering a giant of the sport

The memorial service was attended by an impressive 400 people who wished to pay tribute to a fishing legend. The congregation featured many of the anglers he had met during his broadcasting career, all of whom wished to celebrate his life and achievements. Some of his fans were also in the cathedral together with his friends and family.

His daughter paid tribute to her father, recognising his celebrated status as an angler but pointing out that he was first and foremost, a husband, brother, son, uncle, grandfather and father.

John Wilson will be sadly missed and certainly never forgotten. The world needs more John Wilsons and we are sure that new broadcasters will eventually emerge who will attract yet more people to angling.


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