Why Clarke Gayford's TV show is more than just a fishing show

by Fiona Rae / 07 March, 2018

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Clarke Gayford hosts a travel show with added angling. 

Fishing shows are just a bunch of guys in a boat standing around shouting “woohoo!”, aren’t they? Look! There’s a fish. And another one. Can we go home now?

Not Fish of the Day (Prime, Wednesday, 8.00pm), says presenter Clarke Gayford. This is more a travel show with added angling.

“I like to think of ourselves as a gateway fishing show to harder fishing shows,” he says. “The other way we describe it is a show that uses fishing as an excuse to show off a destination.”

And what destinations. In season two, Gayford and producer/cameraman Mike Bhana are in Vanuatu, Niue, Northland, Marlborough, the Coromandel and Great Barrier Island and on the Sunshine Coast. Gayford says the show is “quite selfishly designed”.

“The opportunity to go places it would take a lifetime to get to in a condensed timeframe is awesome.”

Vanuatu, which takes up the first two episodes, was particularly special, partly because the islands are so beautiful and include an active volcano (“The clouds above it were glowing red and sort of throbbing as the volcano breathed and heaved,” says Gayford) and partly because the host was looking to catch a dogtooth tuna after nearly drowning while spearing one on a trip in Niue.

“I definitely learnt a big lesson that day. I try and stay within my limits at all times.”

But enough with the fishing. There’s also eating. The fish of the day (take that, dogtooth tuna) is whipped into a delicious dish by a local chef. The series encourages a nose-to-tail ethos.

“We don’t like anything going to waste. It’s about honouring the fish that you catch. There’s a couple of episodes where we learn to make a fish stock out of a crayfish body, and another one where we make a stock out of all the frames and heads.”

Until now, Fish of the Day screened on National Geographic and Choice TV, but certain events in Gayford’s personal life have turbocharged his modest profile. However, his partner’s new job as Prime Minister and her pregnancy don’t appear to have put a kink in his fishing plans.

“We’ve got a lot of pressure and interest in series three already,” he says, “so we’re trying to figure out how we make it work. The shows take 6-10 days each to shoot, so if we’re clever about it and maybe involve a couple of mothers who are very keen to help out, we might be able to juggle it successfully.”

Video: Wild Film

This article was first published in the March 3, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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