OUTDOORS

'Addictive Fishing' host Blair Wiggins still going strong

 

scocking@MiamiHerald.com

Addictive Fishing is closing in on its 15th season on cable television, and host captain Blair Wiggins is just as gung-ho as ever, but maybe a little quieter these days.

“I’ve gotten a little calmer,” the married father of one said. “I still get excited catching fish, but there’s enough people out there screaming and hollering. I don’t go over the top like I used to.”

The weekly, half-hour show broadcast on the Sportsman Channel, SunSports and YouTube, has expanded from Florida-centric fishing to national and international destinations. It has made the term, “mogan” — defined as a cross between monster and big ’un — a household word.

Fans seem drawn to Wiggins’ excitement and energy, but he says they also tune in to learn how to catch more fish.

“It’s all about the fish,” the Cocoa native said. “It’s not about me. I’m not always talking about my accomplishments. When I go with a guide, I play stupid because there are things the audience wants to know and have the guide explain it.”

Wiggins recently began taping shows for the 2014 season, which premieres in April. One features longtime friend and east-central Florida guide captain Jim Ross targeting cobia, tripletail and flounder in the ocean off Port Canaveral. Future episodes will showcase mixed-bag, mothership fishing in the Lower Keys with veteran light-tackle guide captain R.T. Trosset and son captain Chris Trosset; and sea trout fishing in Baffin Bay, Texas.

Wiggins says he’s happy to catch just about any fish, but if he had to pick a favorite, it would be sea trout over 10 pounds.

“It’s very hard to get them to eat,” he said. “Those big ol’ trout didn’t get to be big ol’ trout by being stupid.”

Between taping shows, making guest appearances at sporting-goods stores and fishing seminars, and competing in the HT3 redfish tournament trail, the former guide still squeezes in occasional trips to his natal fishing grounds in the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon. But that region has been plagued by seasonal brown algae blooms since the summer of 2011. Those toxic blooms have been blamed for killing fish, as well as dolphins and manatees, and turn the brackish waters the color of Yoo-Hoo even on a calm day.

On a recent trip out of Port St. John aboard his new 18-foot Hells Bay Neptune, Wiggins and a companion had to search a vast area before finding some patches of clear water in Mosquito Lagoon. Wiggins caught and released two reds, both in the 18- to 27-inch slot, using his signature Mogan Spoon. The two saw plenty of others on the shallow grass-and-sand flats. But a cold front that had pushed through the previous night with gusty northerly winds seemed to make the fish skittish.

“I cast that spoon right in front of his nose!” Wiggins exclaimed after an unexpected redfish refusal.

The pair spotted only a couple of trout that vanished before they could get a cast off.

One fish Wiggins confessed he has never caught is a bonefish on fly rod. But as the host of a television show that has sustained popularity, perhaps the “grey ghost’’ will be the next front in “Addictive Fishing”.

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