TELEVISION presenter and ex-politician Michael Portillo tried his hand at fishing in Walton as part of his latest television series about the British coast.

After visiting Grayson Perry’s House for Essex in Wrabness, the former Tory cabinet member joined up with Clacton angling expert John Popplewell on Walton Pier on Monday.

They spoke on camera about the plight of the fishing industry following the expansion of commercial fishing trawlers.

John, who wrote the Gazette’s All at Sea column for a number of years, said: “We chatted about fishing and how things have changed over the years on the fishing front.

“I talked about growing up in Walton and my angling exploits and about how commercial fishing in the 1960s and 1970s had decimated the cod stocks.

“Walton used to be a winter fishing spot, but thanks to trawlers cod stocks have been nearly wiped out in the Thames Estuary.

“It’s now a summer area to fish for bass and rays.

“I invited a couple of Walton anglers to come along so he got a feel for local angling.

“We had a great afternoon and as Michael had never fished or used a fishing rod I showed him how to use a rod and reel.

“Unfortunately he didn’t catch anything, but I did manage to catch one small wrasse.”

John said a large crowd gathered to watch some of the filming, following which Mr Portillo stayed to take photographs and sign autographs for fans.

“He is a very nice chap and down to earth,” added John “He liked Walton and thought it was a quaint town and was impressed by renovations at the pier.

“He hasn’t been here before, but will be back in the area next year for a theatre talk in Clacton.”

After filming in Walton, Mr Portillo was set to continue his journey in the Southend area.

Last week, Mr Portillo enjoyed a day out on Canvey while filming for a new episode of his Great British Railway Journeys.

The series has previously also featured Dedham and Harwich.

The latest documentary series featuring Walton will be screened in Spring next year.