One of professional fishing’s most engaging personalities, TV host Peter Miller is boosting Florida tourism in a major way by taking to the waters.
For some, fishing is merely a hobby. For Peter Miller, a professional angler, model, producer and spokesperson for Visit Florida (the state’s official tourism website), the bait-and-hook game is more like a religious experience.
“You’re breathing fresh air, there’s extreme anticipation and then you’re looking straight into the eyes of a trophy fish,” he says. “It’s a spiritual moment. Thanks for the battle, little guy.” Determined to spend as much time as possible on the water—typically 150 days a year—Miller has parlayed his business acumen, connections, personality and good looks into an insanely enviable lifestyle—even by South Florida standards.
Bass 2 Billfish, his wildly popular fishing show, is now in its eighth season on both NBC Sports and World Fishing Network. Each episode (airing this summer on WFN) highlights some of Florida’s world-famous waters and resorts, which translates to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the state in tourism revenue. “Peter Miller has been a tremendous ambassador for [us],” says Will Seccombe, Visit Florida’s president and CEO. “He has leveraged Bass 2 Billfish and social media to engage his extraordinary fan base and promote the Sunshine State as the fishing capital of the world.”
The program’s approach is straightforward enough: Guests—who range from celebrities and politicians to children with terminal illnesses and Down syndrome—are invited along for adventure on the high seas. Along the way, as they wait for a worthy catch, Miller chats them up, exchanging anecdotes along the way. Tears and laughter almost always follow. “The famous people are great,” says Miller, “but it’s those one-on-one moments with an average person with a story that really resonate with me.”
Miller’s love for fishing began as a kid thanks to outings with his father in waters from Cape Cod to Miami Beach. “By the time I reached college, I knew South Florida was the place for me,” he says. “I tailored my classes [at the University of Miami] around a rigorous fishing schedule.” Fellow classmates still recall the day he caught a 100-pound tarpon in the campus lake. After graduating from UM with a degree in communications, he found himself working in print sales when one of his clients asked him to model for a catalog shoot. That gig opened an unexpected door, and soon he was booking modeling jobs in New York, Japan and Italy, and regularly being cast in commercials. Fishing was never far from his mind, however, and he eventually entered the professional tournament circuit as part of the Get Lit team. As his popularity increased, Miller was eventually able to convince the right people that his skills and easygoing personality would make for good television, with the right sponsors to boot. What started with a 2008 sizzle reel became a Telly Award-winning juggernaut, attracting a slew of lucrative endorsements, including ones from Hook + Gaff watches, Kershaw knives and Dr. Dan’s SunStick. Today, Bass 2 Billfish reaches some 100 million households around the world.
“I feel very fortunate I get to do what I love,” says Miller. “If we can make money, promote Florida and actually help people in the process... well, that’s just the icing on the cake.”