The Big Fish winner relives his TV triumph

“The Big Fish totally changed my life, as I’d never really ventured further than my local river.”
So said James Stokoe, winner of the hit BBC2 series Earth’s Wildest Waters: The Big Fish.
Newbrough, Northumberland-based James triumphed in the show’s dramatic finale in Zambia where he beat off competition from fellow contestants Sam and Dan in a thrilling two-day fish-off on the Zambezi River.
Negotiating murky, dangerous waters and wild animals, the trio targeted several species, and it was an 8lb tiger fish on fly tackle that effectively gave the 33-year-old the verdict, he told Angling Times.
“It felt totally surreal just to get on the programme, never mind win it. I’ve never really ventured far from the River Tyne with a fishing rod in my hand so it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to these locations. The fish and the fishing were just mind blowing. I’m still on a comedown!” he said.
Filming for The Big Fish took place between April and July this year in 10-12 day spells, but it was only after the final episode was screened that James could break his silence.
The latest in a long line of angling success stories recently shown on terrestrial TV channels, the hit series was presented by Ben Fogle and featured commentary from guest judge Matt Hayes and local fishing experts.
So what does the winner rate as his favourite locations?
“As a country I’d have to say Zambia. The African wildlife and scenery was totally different to anything I’ve ever experienced before, it was spectacular. To catch a tiger fish on fly gear was something that was on my bucket list too.
“From a fishing perspective it was British Columbia, where I had a 130lb white sturgeon. The biggest fish I’d ever caught before this was an 18lb salmon, so I absolutely smashed it –  this thing was 6ft 4ins long.
The Big Fish has totally opened my eyes to styles of fishing I never thought I’d enjoy and re-lit my passion for the sport!” he concluded.