Fantastic fishing reels – films for fishing folk

Blue Monday is statistically the most miserable day of the year. In 2013 it falls on 21st January (today).

To help our fellow fishing enthusiasts get through the long dark nights and beat the winter blues, we’ve selected some of the best ever ‘fishing reels’– films that contain fish.

A fish called Wanda

A jewellery heist, a lot of double crossing, and the attempted murder of the sole eyewitness to the crime. One at a time the dear old lady’s dogs are accidentally killed and when the last one is done in, she succums to heart failure. Jamie Lee Curtis seduces John Cleese, Kevin Kline and swallows Michael Palin’s beloved tropical fish – until Wanda is the only one left.

Somehow there’s a happy ending – ‘A fish called Wanda’ is a magical farce that’s as funny now as when released all the way back in 1988. This is one ‘fishing reel’ not to miss.


The scariest rubber shark in history. The film’s soundtrack alone gets the heart racing. Repeated failure of the prop department’s mechanical sharks meant that Spielberg could use them only sparingly. But in ‘Jaws’, anticipation builds a delicious sense of tension.

Who could fail to jump a mile in the air when the skinny dipping Chrissy Watkins becomes a late night snack for the sharp toothed marine marauder? Often compared favourably to the work of the master of suspense – Hitchcock himself, Spielberg’s Jaws is a timeless classic. Come on in the water’s lovely!

Open Water

Shock, horror, dehydration, jellyfish stings and circling sharks. Open water, released in 2003 is a retelling of the true story of Tom and Eileen Logan. The real life couple and peace corps workers – were on a scuba diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef, when their dive boat left them behind. An incorrect headcount meant nobody realised they were missing for two days, and despite a massive air – sea search, the pair were never seen again.

The film details the end-of-life experiences of an American couple as they tread water alone and scared. It’s a simple story – the sharks get them in the end. The film cost a mere $500,000 to make, but it ‘netted’ $55 million worldwide. Not a bad return for a low budget horror flick.

Perfect Storm

A fishing disaster flick and a cautionary tale. The crew of the Andrea Gail are hard up – so they make one last late season fishing trip. While they steam far out to sea in search of a catch, behind them a ‘perfect storm’ brews. When their ice maker fails, the crew have to choose whether to stay offshore and wait for the storm to abate, or steam through it and land their catch. The fatal decision is made, the ship makes for harbour, but is lost with all hands. Perfect storm was a box office smash, but controversial.

The film was loosely based on the book of the same name – an account of the real life disaster of 1991. Names weren’t changed and families of the lost fishermen felt their folk had been misrepresented. Lawsuits ultimately failed – defeated by the assertion of the right to free speech. Perfect storm is a compelling story but its release less than ten years after the actual events was possibly in poor taste.

A river runs through it

The Blackfoot River, Montana is the backdrop to this thoughtful tale of the contrasting fortunes of two fly fishing brothers. Set in prohibition America, Norman, (Craig Sheffer) and Paul (Brad Pitt) are young men, living under the watchful eye of their Presbyterian Minister father (Tom Skerritt). Sensible Norman, returns from college to take up a teaching post. Paul is a journalist on the local paper and a gambling, liquor swilling rebel.

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Norman Maclean, the film was released to critical acclaim in 1992 and was nominated for three academy awards. ‘A river runs through it’, is seen by many as Brad Pitt’s career making performance. For us, it’s a film with trout in it.

Whale Rider

A film about whales rather than fish, ‘Whale Rider’ tells the story of a young girl called Pai, as she struggles to overcome the prejudice of her grandfather (the Maori village leader). Steeped in the traditions and mythology of her homeland, Pai alone can unite the old ways with the new.

To make her grandfather see sense takes the beaching of a pod of right whales, and Pai’s near drowning as she leads them to safety. A sensitive portrayal of the issues facing many modern Maori, ‘Whale Rider’ won numerous accolades when it was released in 2002. One of several cinematic gems to come from the shores of New Zealand – this film is well worth watching.