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River Monsters' Book Signing - 03/12/11

Written by Sandra Armishaw

In the world of angling book-selling, once in a while, a gemstone glistens amongst the pebbles and Jeremy Wade’s latest book, River Monsters is a diamond in that respect.

book signing queuePrior to the book-signing at River Reads on the 3rd December, I ordered 200 copies in readiness. It wasn’t a difficult one to call because the only other book, ‘Somewhere Down the Crazy River’, which Wade co-wrote with Paul Boote, is highly collectible with standard signed copies commanding prices of between £200-£500, depending on condition. Goodness knows what the limited leather edition would fetch! I’ve never seen one on the open market.

Jeremy and Babs As it turns out, my gut instinct was right and people came from near and far on the day, (amongst our visitors, we welcomed Babs from Tennessee!) making River Reads the leading seller during Wade’s book-signing world tour. We were told that we’d outsold Waterstones, and previous events in New York when the American edition was launched! Hard work, pre-selling in readiness for the events, publicity from the publishing house Orion/Swordfish, coupled with an author of Wade’s superstar status made the event and the film screening of River Monsters at The Plough Arts Centre a great success, and one which people I spoke to really enjoyed.

From the moment Keith and I collected Wade from Tiverton Parkway station on Friday evening, we were aware that we were in the presence of one of angling’s super-heroes. What struck us immediately was the ripple of excitement he generated as soon as people realised they were in his company. Amazing; and yet, he is a quiet, modest man with a generosity of spirit and social conscience and no sign of the pretentiousness exhibited by some anglers currently enjoying the limelight.

Jeremy and lad Indeed, for me and others present, the highlight of the weekend was Jeremy’s ‘phone call to a young fisherman, 11-year-old Master Lewis Rhodes from Bradford. Lewis couldn’t be at the book-signing but he’d written to Jeremy via River Reads. His letter and photograph of himself with a grass carp were handed to his hero on the day, and Jeremy took time out from the busy signing to speak to him. I’m sure that ‘phone call will stay in Lewis’s memory forever and one day, he might just get to meet the man who’s had such an impact on his young life. (see below)

Jeremy talking WayneWith a cult following which began with his first television series, Jungle Hooks, Jeremy’s popularity is really no surprise. As far as looks go, he’s surely angling’s answer to George Clooney! Combine that with his intelligence – he gained a scholarship at school, followed by a degree in zoology – his easy uncomplicated presentation style, a voice that could melt an iceberg with its warmth, and a thirst for adventure, and you can understand the popularity of his TV programmes and books.

They appeal to young and old alike but the journey to angling stardom has not been easy. During his career, he’s undertaken various jobs, including the precarious role of despatch rider, in order to provide the money he needed to travel to exotic places in search of monster fish. During the Q & A session at the Plough, I asked him what advice he would give to young people who, on leaving school, have no idea of what they want to do. He thought for a moment and simply said: “do something you love – even if it means doing other jobs in the meantime to provide the money". Good advice I would say, wouldn’t you?

Lee and JeremyWade has fished since he was a boy but became jaundiced by fishing UK waters, mainly for carp. There was little to inspire; no excitement, so he hung up his rods and it wasn’t until he was in his mid-twenties and after reading a classic book on fishing for Mahseer in India, that he dusted them down and headed for the wild side. He has never looked back.

Series four of River Monsters produced by Icon Films of Bristol has just been completed. Series three is due to be screened in the UK in January 2012. Tantalisingly, America gets to view the series first and it is in the States that he is truly revered for his daring-do adventures. When Keith, Lee and I were in Texas earlier this year, River Monsters was being promoted at virtually every other ad break, and it’s hardly surprising that his adventures have generated such a following.

Imagine free-diving in a remote Indian river in the foothills of the Himalayas just to discover the lair of the legendary goonch and picture if you will, hooking that monster fish and holding it; watch the film and you’ll see it turn in a flash as it snaps its powerful jaws and tries to sink its teeth into Wade.

goonch grinWe’ve fished the same pool and a friend was jammy enough to catch a 60 lbs. goonch, albeit foul-hooked! The bravest thing I did was to stroke the fish before it was released unharmed back into the depths – what an experience that was. The monster lived on to bite another day and maybe when we return, it will have grown to monstrous proportions on its macabre diet of charred human remains. But I write no more; I leave you to read of Wade’s mind-boggling pursuits of mythological fish in the pages of his stunning book, River Monsters.

Buy it; watch the films; be inspired by one of angling’s greatest ambassadors, for in my view, Jeremy Wade is an extraordinary adventurer, author and presenter and at the very least, an angling legend in our time and in the words of his unintentional catchphrase:


Sandy Armishaw


The book-signing raised £472; 50% of which goes to Angling Heritage (UK) and 50% to Wateraid, and the film screening raised £233 which has been donated to Angling Heritage.

The first print-run of the UK edition of River Monsters sold out more than a week ago and the publishers are on the second print-run so collectors, check your copy before purchasing.

Regarding the diary note, I would like to thank our journalist, Wayne Thomas for the coverage he gave the events in the North Devon Journal, and for his lovely photos which appear in this entry.

Finally, human kindness sometimes reaches out and touches you at the most unexpected moment, and that has just happened to me. Today, I have received from Master Lewis Rhodes and his mother Debbie, a most beautiful bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates (which I will of course share with Keith!) and a message on a card which I will treasure forever. My sincere thanks to you both for your thoughtfulness.

One aspect of our world of angling is the good people one is fortunate enough to meet. Lewis, I hope that when you and your family are next in North Devon, you can find the time to visit us at River Reads. You will be most welcome.

Have a good Christmas and a wonderful New Year and Lewis, keep fishing, take lots of photographs and write about it your fisherman's diary. As your mum, said: "who knows; perhaps one day, Lewis will be doing a book-signing at River Reads!"

I sincerely hope so.

Best wishes,

Sandy x
Tuesday, 20th December, 2011

For further information on Jeremy Wade, visit his website at: