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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 dross and Jeremy Wade’s latest book, River Monsters is surely a diamond in that respect.

Queue for book signingPrior 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 £300-£500, depending on condition. Goodness knows what the limited leather edition would fetch! I’ve never seen one on the open market.

Jeremy and BabsAs 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 young lad at book signing 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 made such an impact on his young life.

Jeremy talking to WayneWith a cult following which began with his first television series, Jungle Hooks, Jeremy’s popularity with young and old alike is no surprise. As far as looks go, he’s surely angling’s equivalent to George Clooney! Combine that with his intelligence – he gained a scholarship at school, followed by a degree in zoology – and his easy uncomplicated presentation style and 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 despatch rider, in order to provide the money he needed to travel to exotic places in search of monster fish.

Lee and Jeremy talking 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?
Wade 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-driving 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.
We’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 stoke 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 mythological 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:

Jeremy points to fish on a T-shirtFISH ON! FISH ON! FISH ON!

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.

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: For those who missed out on the special edition of River Monsters – I’ve lost my waiting list – not surprising when you consider how busy we’ve been! If you originally registered an interest and were disappointed by the sell-out, please get in touch as two of the presentation copies allocated to Orion Publishing Group will shortly be offered for sale. A miscalculation was made when the publishing house reserved their copies; they included one copy for Jeremy, which he has already received from River Reads and another for the Television company who have separately purchased five volumes. Therefore, volumes IV & V listed in the book will shortly be offered for sale. Offers will be invited.

Contact: Sandy at or call River Reads to discuss: 01805 625888