My Fishing Mate Whitehouse

J

John Bailey

Guest
It’s a funny piece to write this one as I don’t want to sound starry, or celeb dominated. I’m not trying to say “look at me” or “I’m so clever, I’ve got famous pals” or anything like that at all. What I am trying to do is to pin down what a fishing friendship is all about and what you might care to look for in one. I’m the luckiest fisherman I know largely because I’ve got the best fishing mates around me that it is possible to have. They are true angling friends, men, and women, that I’d be lost without. They make my fishing what it is, just so special to me. I could talk about Pingers, Ratters, Clarky, Bond, JG, and the team but I’m choosing Paul Whitehouse because on the back of Gone Fishing or The Fast Show I have probably grabbed your attention and made you want to read on. Cunning eh? But I’ve landed on Paul for lots of REAL reasons too. In my book, he embodies pretty much everything that you should be looking for in a fishing partnership.

Paul is a celeb, awful word, but you’d never know it when you meet him. You don’t want airs and graces in a fishing mate, just a real person, down to earth, someone you can bare your soul to. Paul is absurdly funny but he’d never say that is a talent better than being a brain surgeon or a bus driver. He’s completely honest, and you want that, and that is why in large part Gone Fishing is the success it has been. With Paul and Bob, what you see is how it is with no fancy editing or dressing up. For four years nearly I’ve loved being Fishing Consultant on the programs but most of all, I’ve got to know Paul as a true friend, and here’s why.

For me, constant contact is important. Not a day goes by without me phoning Paul or him emailing or texting. It’s something I have come to rely on, something I look forward to. Okay, we talk about Gone Fishing but all the other stuff of life as well and, post-Covid, that hasn’t always been easy for any of us. Perhaps above all, I can tell him about my little triumphs, knowing he’ll care and celebrate with me through and through. The other week I fluked my first 7-pound chub and he was honestly, truly, 100% made up for me. That is how a best mate just has to be. I guess the word is trust.


And of course, Whitey makes me laugh. A lot. It can be a voice – what a mimic he is. Or an observation or a joke or mostly just a comment. If you are serious about your fishing, you need humour to get you through the tough times and blanks – and there are plenty of those in Gone Fishing, as you’ll know if you have watched it. There are times I can feel low after a hard day but a laugh with Paul and I’m right as rain again.

Having a shared background helps. Just this morning he was talking about one of his great days when he was six, down on the Old River Lea. Paul was with his Dad and his sister and they had a net full of gudgeon. Not F1s or five-pound mirrors or stocked rainbows but good old gonks. I told him about my best day, or one of them, with my Nanny on the River Aire just outside Bradford. I had 33 gudgeon from a boat she was rowing and I can see those beauties now, coming up through the shafts of sunlit water. Paul’s first fish was a roach. So was mine, even though I caught it in a net and it was blind in one eye. The whole point is here we have shared references. We know what it is to struggle for fish and all those years on, whatever we catch, we treat like gold.


A shared background often means shared goals. We both worship natural fish, fish that have come from the spawning beds, not the back of a lorry. Paul’s favourite species might just be a salmon and mine might just be a roach but they are equal in their wildness, in their glamour and mystery. That’s why, through Gone Fishing, Paul and Bob don’t always catch much. It’s because Paul sets top targets and if a fish is a sucker and easy, then it’s not for him or the show. That’s why it’s an impossible job to get Paul to pose with a fish for the camera. To Paul a fish is priceless and it goes back as pristine as it came out, whatever a director might ask for.



With a best mate, you don’t have to talk, you just inhabit the same wavelengths. Way back in Series 1 we were after tench in October and they had mysteriously switched off completely. The whole shoot was an impossible struggle, and then, just as the cameras were packing to leave, Paul and I looked at each other. The wind had lost its edge. There was a fly hatch and a fish rolled. The tiniest patch of bubbles fizzed to the surface and I saw him tense. Not a word passed between us but we both knew and fifteen minutes later, the float sank and a tench was in the net and in the can. In Series 3, Paul hooked a big fish on the Wye. As soon as the rod bent, he caught my eye, and his brows raised. Barbel. No doubt. And, best of all, he played it so perfectly, so expertly, I knew the fish I longed for him to catch was as good as on the bank. Over all the shows, there has rarely been a moment when I would have fished differently. Perhaps we are very good or very bad and that does not matter. The point is that we are totally in sync with each other, just how it should be in a fishing partnership destined to last.



Gone Fishing has brought me immense benefits. The crew are great, the production team too. Mr Mortimer is a gem. The travel has been never less than interesting and the ups and downs of TV make life eternally vivid. In Paul, I’ve found one of the really accomplished anglers of my experience but none of this counts for anything compared with making a friend, I hope, for life.


The post My Fishing Mate Whitehouse first appeared on FishingMagic Magazine.

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sam vimes

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John,
I believe that Bob Mortimer may not have fished as a youngster. However, are we ever likely to see Gone Fishing take in a venue that might reasonably be considered as Bob's "home" patch? I know that you've been to the Ure, but the lower Tees, the Leven, or even the Swale around Richmond might be appropriate. Whether it might include any really interesting fishing is another matter entirely, though the Ure session wasn't overly blessed by the presence of fish!
 

lambert1

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Lots of people who do not fish have enjoyed the series too, which is a great achievement. I love listening to the the two of them talking about quite serious subjects as well as having a laugh together. The settings are wonderful and the talk is never very technical. Being of a similar age and fortunately rather better health, I appreciate how they face up to the inevitability of growing older and all that it entails. Long may the series continue. I suspect they would run out of venues quicker than things to talk about.
 

mikench

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It’s the best fishing programme by a country mile. The two of them do come across as down to earth honest blokes without airs and graces. BM was excellent on Desert Island Discs . Another excellent and interesting article John which I thoroughly enjoyed. In fishing terms you have got off to a flyer.

I have a few celebrity fishing chums but they are very reticent about publicity . :rolleyes: ;)

Having checked I see PW was on DID in 2003 so a long time ago. I will have to relisten if only to learn more about Sir Rowley Birkin QC.
 
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Krang

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It was an ok show. But how can you fail to catch a pike? Not even a small one? With two guys? With the recourses to go anywhere to specifically target pike??
 

tigger

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At the end of the day we all like different things and the programme wasn't for me.
I watched one episode and for me personally I found it torture.
 

markcw

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It reminds me of when I go fishing with one of my friends, We were on same maternity ward, started infant school same day and remained friends ever since, We are both 67.
The difference between us an Bob and Paul apart from money and fame ,is that both of us fished at an early age and stuck with it.
 

Krang

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Why were there no lures in this show? It's a pretty big branch of fishing that was totally ignored. It's probably the fastest growing method in the UK at the moment, judging by the number of youtube videos on the topic. It can also be a particularly visually exiting style, much more suited to TV than centrepins and floats. You guys complain that your stuff isn't as relevant as it used to be whilst refusing to move with the times and produce content that reflects what people are doing and what people want to see.

Insane Topwater blowup on a Savage Gear 3D Rat Lure! - YouTube
 

tigger

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Being honest now, i'd rather watch Bob falling over than watch that garbage. The music/racket was too much.

Those clips of Bob falling over made me laugh, maybe I watched the worst episode of the series and formed my opinion of it too hastily?
 

markcw

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Why were there no lures in this show? It's a pretty big branch of fishing that was totally ignored. It's probably the fastest growing method in the UK at the moment, judging by the number of youtube videos on the topic. It can also be a particularly visually exiting style, much more suited to TV than centrepins and floats. You guys complain that your stuff isn't as relevant as it used to be whilst refusing to move with the times and produce content that reflects what people are doing and what people want to see.

Insane Topwater blowup on a Savage Gear 3D Rat Lure! - YouTube
I was lure fishing over 50 years ago, the only thing that has changed is rod material, and array of lures,
The style of lure fishing has not changed.
 

Peter Jacobs

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The only time I really lure fished was when working and living in both Norway and the USA where it is truly popular.

In both locations you would find very little in the way of coarse tackle which prompted myself and two Norwegian friends to start a coarse tackle import business (as a side issue to my main job) which we ran for close to 10 years.

In the States however Bass lure fishing seemed to be the only method that most people took to and you had to visit a Bass Pro Shop to believe the exceptional range of lures available.
Many also had a huge tank where the resident pro' angler would demonstrate a lure's prowess, albeit on more or less tame fish.

Once back home in the uk I preferred to stick to bait fishing although I dabbled a little in Canada before taking up fly fishing.

There is one forum dedicated to Lure fishing where Krang might feel more at home . . . .

 

steve2

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With all types of fishing it's boring to the viewer, even anglers, unless you bring in other elements. Watching half hour of someone casting and retrieving a lure, trotting a float etc to me is no better than watching paint dry. I always use the fast forward button on you tube videos.
 

theartist

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I think the fact youtube videos have even been brought into this thread shows a lack of respect to what is perhaps the best fishing programme to be made in many a year, sure there's the odd good video online but most are pretty basic and/or boring, some of the presenters look to have got personality bypasses fitted - not something you can say about Bob and Paul that's for sure, yet they are not in your face. Don't get me wrong I can see making any video is really hard and making a good one harder still which makes this program stand out even further, it's another level completely.

The atmospheric ambience, the aerial drone shots, choice of venues, the quirky digs and cooking plus the bants between the Paul and Bob makes the fishing a bonus. It captures our ethos of getting out there, the adventure and the friendship.

Everyone who works on that show should give themselves a well earned pat on the back and keep up the good work (y)
 
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