Adventure Outdoors Magazine Summer 2016 - Page 76

JEREMY WADE AO: Do you have a preferred fishing rod and method for obtaining your catches? JW: I use whatever’s appropriate for the job in hand, and that varies quite a bit. Also, because I’m fishing for “monsters” (i.e. exceptionally large specimens), I tend to gear up for the largest fish I’m likely to encounter, not the general run-of-the-mill fish. While it is possible, however, to bring in large fish on quite light gear, this can tire the fish out unduly, which I try not to do. It’s a priority with us to see the fish swim away after we’ve looked at it. AO: In traveling to the Congo and the Amazon, you’ve been held up by gunpoint and have been accused of being a spy. What led these events to occur? JW: I spent about 20 years travelling without a film crew, just a notebook and camera, often in little-visited parts of the world. Many people found it hard to believe that my real motivation was catching fish, since I normally used to return them to the water after I’d caught them. In many parts of the world that just doesn’t compute – it had to be a cover for something else. In the Amazon many people still think what I’m really looking for is gold. My arrest for alleged spying was in Thailand – a surreal experience that didn’t make sense until many years later. AO: Can you recall a time during any of your adventures, such as when you nearly drowned or caught malaria, in which you honestly feared for your life? AO: In your book, Somewhere Down the Crazy River, you state that the Goliath Tiger Fish is “the most horrifying freshwater fish in the world.” Since filming River Monsters, have you come into contact with any other fish that is equally as, or more horrifying? JW: It’s probably the one that checks the most boxes: principally size and scariness. I’ve caught much larger and even some smaller fish that really give me the creeps, such as the Amazonian Candiru (the one that occasionally swims up a human urethra), but I’d say the goliath still tops my subjective chart. AO: Season 8 of River Monsters is set to debut this year! Is it true that you will be focusing on saltwater species instead? What about season 8 is most exciting for you? JW: Yes, this season sees us exclusively in salt water. But, unlike our freshwater niche, lots of people have been filming in the oceans for many years. There are lots of really spectacular television series out there. How could we possibly add to that? Well, I believe we have a unique approach to showing aquatic life – so we should be able to give our own take on the oceans. It was definitely a challenge. Sea water is usually clear so it also gives me the chance to get under water more – which I was particularly looking forward to. AO: Are the challenges and adventures any different in saltwater, compared to your freshwater journeys? JW: Finding a fish can be harder in salt water, since there’s a lot more water. Saltwater fish also tend to be faster than river fish, at least in open water, where there’s nowhere for prey to hide, so it’s all about speed. Salt water also plays havoc, potentially, with camera gear, but we’re used to functioning in difficult environments. After operating in knee-deep mud in a rainforest, we were fairly confident we could keep documenting our adventures in any setting. 74 Summer 2016 Adventure Outdoors JW: When I had malaria I almost wanted to die. The thought of crawling under a bush and going to sleep – and not waking up – seemed like a more inviting prospect than continuing the way I was. I’d been travelling on a truck with 40-odd other people and it had broken down, so I was having to walk in the equatorial sun. Meanwhile, I was semi-blind and my urine was practically black from dehydration and all the destroyed red cells in my blood. Not fun, but a part of me was also a fascinated observer, which partially redeemed the experience. AO: What is the most rewarding part of interacting with the local cultures while traveling to these remote locations? JW: Almost everywhere I go, I fish in collaboration with the locals. I have limited time and I need information but I can’t expect them just to give it to me, so I have to spend time with them and prove myself in some way. When it all works, we achieve something that neither party could have pulled off on their own. After doing this for several years I realized I’d become an accidental anthropologist. By participating rather than just observing, fishing doesn’t just take you beneath the surface of the water; it takes you beneath the surface of human life in a way that’s not otherwise possible. It really is true that fishing is a universal language. Even people who have to do it to survive tend to have a certain enthusiasm for it, and an interest in other people who share that.