From the Coral Triangle to Cymru’s Afon Taf: Will Millard on his new series
Hunters of the South Seas presenter Will Millard has swapped the Coral Triangle for Cymru’s Afon Taf in his new BBC One Wales series, The River Taff with Will Millard. Once so polluted that no fish could survive, the river is now a flourishing fishing spot that’s home to schools of salmon and trout. We spoke to Will ahead of the first episode, which airs this Friday at 7:30pm on BBC One Wales.
What’s the most interesting thing you learnt on your journey down The River Taff?
I felt like I already knew the Taff fairly well going into this series; it’s a river I absolutely love, and I’ve been fishing it loads ever since I moved to Cardiff a few years ago. But I guess the most interesting thing was actually how little I realised I knew about it outside of the capital: the fact that it has twin sources in the Brecon Beacons, the way it was used to power an ironworks that rose to become one of the biggest in the entire industrial revolution, the manner in which it rises and falls with greater speed than almost any other river in Wales… I’ve got to say, it’s probably the most underrated river in Britain. We could have made an entirely different series and still not mined all the interest out of this waterway.
You train with a mountain rescue team, visit one of Britain’s biggest open cast coal mines and go wild swimming during the series. What was your most memorable moment?
Well, there was a moment right at the end of the series that I can’t really talk about yet, but it’ll be obvious when you see it! That aside, the single most memorable moment was probably getting a hook imbedded in my palm while playing a big brown trout in Pontypridd. We eventually got it in the net by hand, and I remember immediately turning to the crew and saying, “We’re not putting that in are we lads?” Naturally, they did.
We know you can speak Indonesian, but how’s your Welsh?!
I tried really hard to get it right on this series; our Series Producer is a fluent Welsh speaker! Just like in Hunters of the South Seas, I think it is really important to try and get any national language right. That all said, quite honestly, my Welsh is still absolutely appalling.
Last but not least, you fish for wild brown trout, grayling and salmon, the King of Fish. What are your top tips for reeling them in?
Loads of anglers will have you believe it’s all down to luck, skills and patience. Even though that’s true to some degree, quite honestly, if the fish aren’t there you’re not going to catch them no matter what you do.
Seeking and following good local advice is the key to success. Here in Wales, fishermen – and, let’s be honest, the people in general – are unbelievably friendly and helpful. In 25 years of fishing I’ve never encountered anglers so generous with their time and experience. So if you’re not catching on the waters round here then just speak to someone, they’ll set you on the path to fishing success for sure.