Capt. Blair Wiggins, the host of Addictive Fishing TV, (www.addictivefishing.com), which airs on Fox and the SUN networks, is now in his 8th year of filming out of Florida. Captain Blair had contacted me to set up a trip to experience striped bass fishing in the Western Long Island Sound. Being very familiar with Blair's show and watching him catch and release redfish, snook, tarpon, and other species out of the Southeast portion of the USA, we discussed a time and way to make his trek to the Big Apple an experience he would remember forever.
Blair told me his largest striper was one of six pounds which was caught many years ago down south. We conversed over the winter so as to select a prime time to enjoy the spring migration and we decided on mid-June. I explained to Blair that the bunker schools, or pogy schools as they are called in his region, should be here in good numbers with some post spawned stripers. We discussed tactics and the most exciting ways to target this great species and tell the story to his viewers who are not accustomed to seeing this type of fishing yet alone a southern boy venturing into the fast paced New York landscape.
Blair and his family set out the Friday before Father's Day with the Ranger bay boat in tow with 2500 miles of road between him and his date with a NY striper. We were all set to meet at the Imperial Yacht Club in New Rochelle, NY, my home port for Long Run Fishing Charters, on Sunday when I got the call stating he was stuck on the George Washington Bridge as he made his way on to the Cross Bronx Expressway. I laughed as I told Blair that with a Yankee home game and the roads filled with Father's Day traffic, all I could muster was a “Welcome to New York bro!” You know what I’m talkin’ about.
Watching Blair and his family pull into the marina I could see he was excited, tired, overwhelmed, and pumped to do some fishing after I told him we had pulled fish up to forty pounds earlier in the week. We met on Monday, bright and early, after a briefing with the camera crew and explained that we were off to Manhasset Bay to net bunker for some live-lining and chunking amongst the mids-sound bunker schools.
As we pulled into the bay on a beautiful Ranger bay boat, which are rarely seen or used on the Sound, as center consoles, walk-arounds and smaller cruisers rule. I was amazed at how dry we stayed flying by Harts Island at 54 miles per hour! This boat sports a great platform for tossing a cast net and we were equipped with a trolling motor if we decided to plug the skinny waters behind David's Island. We quickly loaded up with bunker after two throws and cleared the five mile per hour sign and made our way to find the schools of bunker being harassed by hungry stripers.
We were prepared with conventional combos spooled with Power Pro and 9/0 Octopus hooks. Some were weighted with 4-ounce egg sinkers just in case we marked some fish close to the bottom or if we decided to drop the hook and chunk. It was not quite 5:30am and we were virtually between countless schools of bunker. Their wakes and occasional splashes had the entire crew filled with anticipation. Here we were in New York where millions lived and we were the only ones on these schools was simply amazing for Blair to see and experience.
My eyes were glued to the fish finder as we live lined 1 to 2-pound bunker into the many schools of bunker that cruised by our boat. The water was flat calm as the sun was breaking the eastern horizon as my rod tipped danced from the tail beating of my live bunker. Blair nose-hooked a bunker and swam it about 40 feet off the bow when all of a sudden the bunker went into its defensive dance which is swimming in a tornado type circle, something many baitfish do when threatened by a huge predator. This tornado posture is their way of gathering into a larger school as this huge presence on occasion will stave off predators until that one lone straggler drifts away from the pack. What happened next was watching line peel off of Blair’s reel and me yelling, “Lock it up and take a swing!” Hit'em again I yelled to Blair as his signature Wright & McGill rod bowed and now the fight was on.
My mind raced as I watched Blair stick it to possibly his largest striper as I cleared lines and made my way around the camera man. Seeing the fish surface behind the boat and catching a glimpse of its large tail slap water I knew this was a big fish. “Keep constant pressure Blair,” I yelled while holding the net as the fish drew closer, but just out of my reach. She decided to take another run and I looked up and said, “Looks like a Mogan!” For those familiar with the show, you know what a Mogan is. We landed and released a beautiful 30-pound class striper and words could not do justice to how this whole bite materialized.
Once I told Blair of all the ways we catch stripers like live lining, plugging, drifting worms, on the fly, pulling spoons and plugs on the troll and of course chunking, I could see he was hooked on NY striper fishing! Maybe he was “Addicted”?
Here is a brief synopsis of Addictive Fishing and my friend Capt. Blair Wiggins and read on if you want to know what a Mogan is.
The addiction began in 1980 with two young kids growing up on the barrier islands of Florida's Space Coast. Daily fishing excursions before and after school fueled the passion for fishing. Graduation was not only from high school, but to the realism of the uncharted future. Kevin traveled to Tampa to study television production at the University of South Florida. Blair struggled with the fishing addiction, before enlisting in the Air Force. A career working on the Space Shuttle brought him back home, where the fishing addiction returned.
Twenty years later, Blair, a professional fishing guide, and Kevin, an award-winning television producer, have reunited to create the next generation of outdoor television. And about “Mogan”, the word was coined by these two a long time ago. Blair was born and raised in Florida and called fish “biggans”. Kevin moved to Florida from up North and called big fish "monsters". You know how kids are. . .they put the two words together and created their own. Like a “lunker”, but a "mogan" is in saltwater!
Capt. Blair Wiggins
He’s the kind of guy you’d want on “your island.” As a professional guide for 12 years, and a full-time outdoorsman since birth, Capt. Blair has made his livelihood on the water. That’s why the show's format was created in-part to promote and support the guide industry that afforded him this career opportunity. He is conservation-minded, and works to ensure our future will enjoy the same plentiful waters as he did by practicing and teaching “catch and release” principles. His contagious style is a cross between the in-your-face-style of Pro-Wrestling and the crazy antics of the Crocodile Hunter. Children seem to gravitate towards him the most. The Mogan Man is real, and possesses “child-like” qualities that make him approachable to people of all ages.
The Fishing Academy and Blair as your teacher
In recent years, fishing has become the largest participatory sport in the world. More people are fishing than playing tennis and golf combined. Competition on the water is getting more intense with every cast of the line.
IMG Academies and Cay Club have recognized that there is a huge demand for access to qualified fishing knowledge and information. That's why they have recruited Captain Blair Wiggins to direct the Professional Fishing Academy. Captain Blair is the 2006 FLW Redfish Series Champion and host of Addictive Fishing, the top rated fishing show on the Fox Network today. He brings a lifetime of inshore and near shore fishing experiences to the training and education environment of IMG Academies.
The Professional Fishing Academy offers classes geared to teach every aspect of inshore and near-shore fishing. Areas of focus include:
Equipment and lure selection
Fish fighting skills
Casting to tournament skills
How to find the fish you want to catch
Whether you’re already a pro tournament angler looking to improve your skills or just a junior angler, the PFA can take your performance on the water to a new level. Classes will consist of three and five day courses. The five day course will be geared towards those who want to learn all aspects of inshore/near-shore fishery, and will provide the knowledge to be a proficient angler, no matter the water conditions. The three day course will be a more intense course that will cover the major topics to ensure success on the water.
Note: Adult accommodations are available onsite. For more information, call 1.800.872.6425 / 941.752.2600 or email directly at Blair@Addictivefishing.com.
Please visit our web sites at www.imgacademies.com and www.addictivefishing.com.
Visit www.addictivefishing.com for details on our Western Sound striper trip as it is slated to air in August. Special thanks to the crew at the Imperial Yacht Club and the Marriott New Roc City.
Story by Capt. Johnny Luchka
Long Run Fishing Charters