Capt. Blair Wiggins is one of best-known saltwater anglers on the planet. After spending 12 years as a professional fishing guide, Wiggins decided to try his hand at tournament fishing, winning the 2006 FLW Redfish Series Championship. Now, he is the host of his own fishing show and continues to teach anglers how to reel in big fish on the big blue.
Pro Tips recently caught up with Wiggins to learn more of his saltwater secrets.
How did you get your start in saltwater fishing? What drew you to it, and what makes it special?
Growing up in Cocoa Beach, FLA., I knew nothing but saltwater fishing. It was a treat to go with my dad over to Lake Harney on the St. Johns River system and go freshwater fishing. Now that I have the opportunity to really do both I still stick with saltwater, just because of the excitement and many different species of fish to catch.
When you take anglers out on your boat, what are some pointers you give them? Do you see any common mistakes?
I try to tell them not to get too anxious when they see the fish. Ninety percent of the fishing I do is all sight-casting, which means you see the fish that you’re casting at, and the excitement level of that alone can send most anglers, even myself, into a nervous fit.
My advice to any angler out there, novice or expert, is you have to get out there and practice your cast.
When you see a fish with its tail out of the water, you could get so nervous that you can’t put the lure where it needs to be. Stealthiness is always a consideration. In deep water you can get away with a little more noise.
You can also practice at home. Aim for whatever you have available: trash cans, round pool noodles, etc.
What type of bait do you like to use?
Fishing with live bait is always the easiest way to catch fish. It’s always easier to feed them than it is to fool them. Match the bait that is in the area you’re fishing, referred to as “match the hatch.” Use a cast net to catch your own. If the area is too deep, use a sabiki rig.
If you’re using lures, I say to imitate the bait living in the water at the time, because that’s what the predator fish are keying in on.
What are your ideal conditions for sight fishing, and what are some tips for spotting fish?
Light S/SE wind in the mornings, and a S/SW wind in the evenings. Look for irregularities on the water: birds, baitfish, structures and oyster beds.
You’ve been to some of the world’s best fishing spots. What are some of your favorites?
Venice, LA. is number one on my fishing destinations — they don’t call it a sportsman’s paradise for nothing! I’ve caught redfish, seatrout, sheepshead, flounder, giant crevalle jack, huge alligator gar, yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, bonita, red snapper, swordfish, amberjack — and that was all in one day.
Other great destinations that I’ve been to are Southern California, Catalina Island, Brazil fishing the Amazon, Cabo San Lucas for striped and blue marlin. The Indian River Lagoon, where I call home, is always a great destination for large seatrout — one of my favorite fish to catch.
My favorite fishing destination is on the water, anywhere!
Is there any gear you have to have when you’re on the water?
Polarized sunglasses are a requirement, the brand I use is Costa Del Mar. I have been wearing them for over 20 years. Sunscreen and protective sun wear are also must-haves. Nothing ruins a good day fishing like a visit to the dermatologist. I always have tons of water to drink as well. And, above all else, don’t forget your patience