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20 Years to Learn a Trade


Article reposted from https://www.itm.co.nz/news/20-years-to-learn-a-trade

22 years ago, I had the idea to start a fishing show. 21 years ago, ‘The Fishing Show’ made it onto TV, and 20 years ago, ITM signed on as sponsor, and The ITM Fishing Show was born. Since then, it’s reached millions of Kiwis and millions more overseas, made an impression on thousands, and has been life-changing for me.

End of an Era

Season 20 of ITM Fishing will screen from October 2023, in Primetime on THREE, and it will be the last season to screen on television. I never targeted 20 seasons, although it sounds good and makes for a cool banner alongside our logo.

After Building the Kiwi Dream, I thought it was an excellent place to end my time on TV and hunker down at our new home and work on perfecting my homebrew.

But when I understood what ITM Fishing meant to so many people and what it meant to me, I had to give it a proper send-off. So I rallied the team, including some mates that were around at the start of the show. We went out to film Season 20, and it was a mix of ticking off some things I’d not yet done and revisiting some of my favourite places, including Fiordland and the Cook Islands.   

Knowing it was the last time out filming an ITM Fishing TV series, I slowed down and tried to enjoy the moments while out on the water. Too often over the years, I’ve been chasing the shot, or the next big fish, and I’ve not fully been present in the moment. In the process of filming this final series, I thought I might get an urge to make another series, but instead, I felt even more certain the time was right.

I’ve experienced some incredible moments making The ITM Fishing Show, so many I feel it’s too much for one person to fit into one lifetime. Just going through the photos for this story has stirred up so many memories shared with some great characters. I can’t pick any that I could possibly do justice to in the space afforded here, so hopefully, the pictures will make up the shortfall in my words until I get around to writing a book or two.

David Letterman, “So I hear you are going to catch a Marlin off a Surfboard” – Matt says, “Yeah, I’m gonna do that this summer”, only he’d never heard of the idea, but he did it anyway (2009).

But it’s not the end of ITM Fishing

Series 20 of ITM Fishing is not the last new fishing content you’ll see from me; far from it. I’m not hanging up the fishing rods and putting away the cameras. I’m already filming new content for our Ultimate Fishing TV website and YouTube channel. I’ll still be proudly repping ITM, and the episodes will still be called ITM Fishing. They just won’t be on TV.

We now have a combined 1.1 million followers and subscribers on social media, generating over 3.5 million monthly views. And for me, the beauty of making content for our online followers is we just have to create content that they like and that I like, not what the TV networks like. We can make it any duration we like, and we can release it when we like, which means more up-to-date content more often. So if you aren’t already following our social media or haven’t yet downloaded our Ultimate Fishing App, best you get up with the play.  

After fighting hard to keep the show going in some tough times, it now feels right to call time.

Matt Watson, ITM Show

I’ve been incredibly privileged to make the call to end ITM Fishing on TV on my own terms. After fighting hard to keep the show going in some tough times, it now feels right to call time and celebrate what we’ve done.

I’m blardy looking forward to the celebrating bit. However, right now, I’m still working away trying to produce a series that is good enough to put the ‘ITM Fishing’ name on. I really hope you all like it. It’s been a blast making it for you.

Till next time – Keep ‘em tight.