In a new Channel 5 series Fishing Scotland’s Lochs and Rivers, Fern Britton is among five gung-ho celebrities tackling the chilly Scottish waters for an adventurous fishing trip.
The five-parter follows Fern and her fellow fishing companions, England cricket hero Lord Ian Botham, Olympic sprinter Linford Christie, Corrie actor, and comedian Les Dennis, and TV chef Rosemary Shrager, as they catch salmon, pit their wits against monster carp, and even fish for shark around the waters of Oban in Scotland.
So here's everything you need to know about Fishing Scotland’s Lochs and Rivers and our exclusive chat with the presenter and bestselling author Fern Britton, giving her thoughts on the challenge and on what happened in the show…
Fishing Scotland’s Lochs and Rivers release date
Fishing Scotland’s Lochs and Rivers begins on Channel 5 on Friday 23 July at 7pm and runs for five episodes. The show will then become available on streaming service My5.
Fern, you don’t even like fish, so what made you want to go on a fishing holiday?
Fern Britton says: "It was a filmed during July and August last summer and we’d been in such a long lockdown. The siren call of travel appeals to me and I love Scotland. I’ve worked at the Aberdeen and Edinburgh theatres and cycled a lot of the Highlands."
Had you tried fishing before?
Fern says: "My first fishing experience was as a five-year-old in Cornwall. My uncle took me and my cousins on a little putt-putt pleasure boat just off the beach and I caught a pollock! I was very proud. My grandmother cooked it for me and it was the most revolting thing I’ve eaten and so began my dislike of eating fish. I’m not a big fish lover at all. Trout, sole, salmon… no thanks! But I do like large flakey meaty fish like cod and chips."
Did you enjoy fishing this time?
Fern says: "Yes, trying to catch salmon was really exciting. I also learnt to appreciate even more the beauty of nature and the fun of companionship, which I’d missed so much during lockdown. And the rivers were so beautiful. It was the sound of the water, seeing the breeze chasing across it… and the skies! Plus the wee dram in the evening was also something to look forward to!"
Were you togged up in all the fishing gear?
Fern says: "Yes we had waders with the sock bits fixed in so that your feet didn’t get wet, warm jackets, and nets over our heads for the blooming midges!"
You must have interviewed most of your fellow celebrity fishing companions before…
Fern says: "Yes, almost all of them. But when you’re all thrown together it’s a privilege to talk without cameras. All of us found so many things to laugh about, and on quiet evenings sitting together it was a joy to learn more about them."
Who was the most competitive?
Fern says: "Lord Botham was the man to beat. He’s an experienced fisherman and helped us with lots of advice, but the sportsman in him made sure he beat us!"
Would you ever go on a fishing holiday again?
Fern says: "I would, but as long as it was only for a couple of hours a day. I need to see some sun and swim, too. But fishing is a bit like meditation — standing still, gently casting, reading the water. Then you get a bite and the adrenaline explodes!"
What happens in later episodes of Fishing Scotland’s Lochs and Rivers
The five celebrity anglers head for Loch Tay in episode two, where they hope to catch some sort of 'monster fish'. It's an idea that’s not as stupid as it sounds, according to Ian Botham. While fishing is a skill that has existed thousands of years, fish have existed since the beginning of time. Let’s go ‘for a fish with history, a fish with form’ he muses. So 'Beefy' Botham decides on their next challenge — to catch a pike, a freshwater fish that hasn’t changed in over 60 million years. In a battle to be the best, the lads compete on Loch Skiath to catch the biggest pike they can, and to get as close to the pike as possible they use float tubes. It's not an easy task for novices, and it all ends in tears when Les loses his flippers, falls in and has to be sent back to the hotel to get warmed up!
On the next day, the competition heats up. Fern and Les disappear into the mists to a secluded fishing pool on a private estate and the others go to place famed for Arctic char and pike —Loch Rannoch. How will they fare? Linford Christie does make a catch — but not the big one! There’s someone else who can gloat about catching a pike however!
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