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Behind the scenes details about Top Hooker, the fishing competition almost called “Master Baiter”

The Animal Planet competition series Top Hooker concludes its first season a week from Sunday, and it’s been a surprisingly engaging series, especially since it’s about a sport not exactly known for producing a thrill every minute. Like another Pilgrim Studios-produced competition, Top Shot, it also appeals to people who aren’t enthusiasts of the sport.

Executive producer Craig Piligian told me that it “was a very difficult show to produce, obviously, because it’s fishing,” but thinks “it was successful because viewers saw fishing as not such a boring, solitary sport. It can be fun, it can have some humor in it, and it can be challenging at times. And that’s what we wanted to get across.”

“Whether or not it comes back, because it was an expensive show, we really respect Animal Planet for really embracing it, from the title on through the episodes,” he said. As a viewer and critic, it’s the kind of show I want to see more of, so I do hope it returns–in part because I think that it’d get even better in future seasons, like Top Shot has.

Here’s other behind-the-scenes details about the show from Piligian and Reno Collier, its host, who’s also a stand-up comedian and the host of NBC’s short-lived Great American Road Trip: