Hayes: Our sport needs a better image

Give me the funding and the slot on prime-time television and I’ll make a series more popular than Extreme Fishing. These are the words of Matt Hayes after Angling Times asked his opinion on the hugely popular TV series being shown on Channel 5.

The star of countless hit fishing shows admitted that he joins the thousands of anglers celebrating the fact that TV celebrity Robson Green has brought the sport into millions of homes nationwide through his Extreme Fishing series. But he has also revealed his ‘burning desire’ to restore the sport’s image that he says is being tarnished by the ‘dubious treatment’ of fish and the offensive ‘Gordon Ramsay-esque language’ of the programmes that he believes is damaging the public’s perception of fishing.

Having produced some of the sport’s most influential TV shows, such as Matt Hayes’ Total Fishing, the famous fisherman has revealed that he already has the ideas for a host of hit programmes to rival Extreme Fishing with Robson Green ¬ a series which has been received with mixed opinion by anglers.

When asked to comment on Extreme fishing, Matt said: “I think it’s great that we have a major angling show on terrestrial TV. However, I understand why large numbers of anglers are dissatisfied with the ‘gung-ho’ approach to the sport.

“While I appreciate there are many different forms of angling, and fishermen come from all types of backgrounds, I don’t think it does us any favours when angling’s portrayed as laddish and loud.

“Anglers are the most privileged people in the world as we get to experience nature at close quarters. We should become part of the landscape, leave no footprints and treat our quarry with respect ¬ not like a throwaway commodity.

“I’d love a crack at a major TV series, but given the current state of the economy and lack of funding it may not be possible.

“Given the opportunity I’m confident that I could front a major TV series that would out-rate ‘Extreme Fishing’ and portray the values shared by millions of anglers.” One man with more experience of making angling TV programmes than any other is AT columnist Keith Arthur, who is this year celebrating 15 years of his Sky Sports show Tight Lines.

“I have no doubt that Matt Hayes would be able to come up with a TV programme that showed angling in a better light than Extreme Fishing,” said Keith.

“Matt has a history of producing fabulous shows. However, he didn’t star in Soldier, Soldier which made Robson Green a star, especially to females.”