Prone to seasickness, Milan Radonich picked today for our interview because of the inclement weather forecast, but the sea is as flat as a flounder and the fishing is "on".

"It's like, argh!," he says of having driven to the Mount from Morrinsville, with no boat attached to his 2017 Mazda ute.

"I think there's a massive wind coming up this afternoon, so it's going to be horrible."

Dressed in a hipster floral shirt and smelling of Hugo Boss cologne, he looks different from the colourful "Dr Seuss" he's been called on Facebook, as host of TV3's Big Angry Fish.

Also nicknamed "King of the Kingis", the show, which he co-hosts with former Mr New Zealand Nathan O'Hearn is a full-time job.


He's 42 this month and has aspired to have his own fishing show since age 16. It took him and Danish business partner Nikolaj Mathiesen three years and six figures for their production company, Gillplate Productions, to get Big Angry Fish on television.

He escapes seasickness by doing land-based fishing or "calm fishing" on lakes or inshore.

He also doses up on Paihia Bombs and Kaikoura Crushers, or Quills when in Australia - all remedies for seasickness. If he doesn't have the pills, he can't hold his rod.

What does he say to critical viewers?

"If you don't want to watch it, don't watch it. We're really good at shallow water fishing, that's our passion, that's our drive."

After three years of trying to get Big Angry Fish on air, the team almost gave up.

Radonich's wife, Karen Gillies, landed a job in Japan and they moved to Tokyo. Two months later, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku.

"Then it was like holy s**t, do we leave or do we stay?"


In a stroke of serendipity, TV3 rang and said: 'You're on. You've got six months to produce your first 13 shows."

The first episode screened in 2012, and they're now in their sixth season.

He commuted from Japan for three years, before he and Gillies left Tokyo, population 33 million, to move to Morrinsville, population 3000. They get their beach fix at their 1950s bach in Waihi Beach.

"It gives you variety. If we were based in Tauranga, then would you fish and film out of Tauranga more? Probably. You get lazy."

Kiwi anglers have embraced Big Angry Fish, as have Ozzies, where it's doubly popular.

"We're quite hard on ourselves. We don't always get it right, but we try to deliver something a little bit different. Quirky."

One day he went fishing with now business partner, Mathiesen, and on the way home, they starting discussing how it would be fun to have their own show.

They formed a business plan and quit their jobs. Radonich was an architectural draftsman and Mathisen a fly fishing guide.

Of the name of the show: "We [Mathiesen and I] were fishing, and he was filming me. I hooked [what he called] a 'big angry fish' ... He was going through footage: 'That's the name!' I was like: 'Nah, it's a s**t name.' "

Radonich couldn't think of anything better though and laughs about it now.

Big Angry Fish focuses on sustainability and good quality cinematography.

"We're heavy on scenery and underwater footage but not hooked fish."

They release a high proportion of their catch.

"I've done a lot of travel and the fishing in New Zealand is 10 times what it is anywhere else in the world. We're pretty lucky here, and we're pretty brutal. I reckon in 10 years; we won't have what we have."

Is the Bay of Plenty a good fishery?

"Very good."

Although he's "gutted" the marine reserve around the grounded container ship, MV Rena, was opened after being closed off for seven years.

"It got potted heavily, and everything's been ripped off the reef. I saw it as a stock building station that spread out on to the other reefs in the area."

Fishing might be worth our export dollar, but he questions the value of the tourism dollar if fish were left in the water.

His favourite places to fish are West Coast harbours, Waihi, and Tauranga harbour.

"Every year we pull 40kg fish or just under [from Tauranga harbour]."

This season of the show, currently screening, sees them fishing at Mayor Island.

"We've got some really cool snapper and kingfish shows. That's what 90 per cent of anglers are out there targeting."

They film whenever there's a weather window, and when there's not, the crew of 10 work away at the back-end of the business.

Radonich likes gardening on his acre section with 56 fruit trees and a veggie patch - he's trying to be full vegan, but loves meat. He doesn't drink alcohol, apart from the odd port.

Does he try hard to stay healthy?

"Yeah, if you had to be on TV next to Nathan I think you'd ahh ... He's an impressive unit."

Aside from veggies and fruit, he has 400 orchids in an orchid house.

"I really enjoy my flowers."

It seems a good time to bring up the floral shirt he's wearing.

"Yeah, Nikolai bought me that, ha, ha. He buys my clothes for me when he sees real freaky, colourful things."

Hills Hats in Wellington make his hats. I note that he seems to be particularly sun-conscious on the show.

"You have to be ... it's brutal [on the water]."

He started wearing colourful socks because he hated wearing pants.

"I'm not into the normal blacks, greys ... I like to brighten up the world a little bit."

It's led to playful taunting on social media. He's been told he looks like a fishing "lure" and "the real Dr Seuss". A Sesame Street Bert and Ernie video was voiced over with his and O'Hearn's voices.

"Social media is social media. You take it with a grain of salt."

He gets sent clothing by viewers. One lady sent him shorts made out of towels. He wears them.

How did she know his size?

"Oh, most people email me and say: 'Hey, I want to send you some of our bits and pieces.' I'm always into having a look.

"In the States, you can buy all sorts of freaky leggings, so I buy all my leggings in from there ... I don't want to be on the other end of the stick [of skin cancer], you know? And I'm not a big fan of sunscreen."

Radonich, with his shoulder length hair, is all about being different and being okay with being different.

Freedom is something he can't control, however, when it comes to each episode's final cut.

"I do voiceovers, but Nathan and I have no control over what goes on TV. We watch them every Sunday night along with everyone else."

From the outside, having your own fishing show is a sweet gig.

"People go: 'Oh, you just get given your boats.' And I go: 'Dude, you've got no idea.' The amount of work we do with our partners behind the scene ... I pretty much live my job seven days a week."

Tristram Marine supply their two boats - a 600 inshore and 701 offshore. One is kept in the Hamilton showroom and the other in O'Hearn's Morrinsville garage. O'Hearn owned the local gym in Morrinsville, and that's how he and Radonich met.

"I just wanted to get stronger to catch bigger fish ... We still train together every day."

He's very meticulous, he says of his co-host's personality. "I'm very unorganised."

Radonich isn't big on publicity. The last time he did an interview was about five years ago.

"We don't do boat shows. We don't write for any magazines in New Zealand. We run our own social media site. We don't want to be up in lights."

His grandparents, Evelyn Joyce and Yuri Radonich, lived in Otumoetai. Evelyn Joyce was big on fishing and even landed a marlin.

Big Angry Fish host Milan Radonich explains his passion for fishing and his unique sense of style.PHOTO/JOHN BORREN
Big Angry Fish host Milan Radonich explains his passion for fishing and his unique sense of style.PHOTO/JOHN BORREN

"Nana used to tell me stories how they'd go down to Fergusson Park and Grandad used to have a little wire with a little hook ... They'd catch the snapper tailing on the pipi beds. You just walk around quietly and stick the thing. [That's] what the Tauranga harbour was 50-60 years ago."

Born in Te Awamutu, he spent his childhood in Kuwait. His father built dairy factories, and on the family's return to New Zealand, they settled in Hamilton.

He was a "s**t bag" at school but got a degree in drafting. He moved to Ireland at the time of the Celtic Tiger but hated it.

"I earned heaps of money and had the idea I'd come home and buy a house." The reality: "I spent it all coming home fishing."

He got a job with Chibnall Buckell Team Architects in Hamilton and sometimes worked from his boat.

He met wife Gillies at a wedding. She was the bridesmaid; he was the best man.

He wears two wedding rings. The other is his Nana, Evelyn Joyce's wedding ring.

"She had massive hands," he explains.

Gillies does technical sales in dairy for the Japanese market, and travels regularly. They have a full-time nanny Alex Burne, who happens to be a top New Zealand gymnast, for son, Marco, 2.

Going forward, the Big Angry Fish team are considering scouting for more presenters. They've recently employed an Australian-based fisherman, Lubin Pfeiffer.

"We haven't chased money, we've chased lifestyle."

He's hooked the dream, most fishermen would say.