Fishing Is Better for Building Relationships Than Any other Sport
By David Lowrie
TWRA R3/Outreach Program Manager
I’ve been a fisherman pretty much all my life. As far back as I can remember I fished with my father and grandfathers. However, the best times of my life began when I started fishing with my son. Over time, I learned that no sport compares to fishing when it comes to bonding with a child.
My son, Hank Lowrie, was born in November of 1996, and all I could think about was when we would start fishing together. As soon as Hank could sit forward in a car seat and see out the window of a vehicle, I would point to just about any body of water we passed on the road and told him we were going to fish there as soon as he was big enough. Before long he would point as we went past and say, “fish water, Daddy, fish water.”
I started fishing with Hank when he was 2years-old in the family pond and other ponds around home. I got Hank a short rod and a classic Zebco 33. We would chase panfish with a float, sinker, hook and live bait. Fortunately, the family pond is loaded with bream and bluegill and we could always catch plenty of fish. By the time Hank was two and a half, he could cast the rod, set the hook and reel in his own fish. The first catch he made 100% by himself is memorialized with a picture that I cherish.
The more we fished; the more Hank loved it. He would ask me to fillet the little bream and cook them almost every time we went and he started watching fishing shows whenever they were on, especially Bill Dance.
I suddenly, began to see why fishing was so much better than the other sports when it came to spending one-on-one time with your child. If your kid wants to be a baseball pitcher you can throw the ball in the yard with him, but you can’t play the game. Instead you sit and watch your child play a game with other children from a great distance away. With fishing, you can fish alongside your child, coach them, net their fish and work together as a team. No other sport for kids allows that.
The next big change for Hank would come in the spring of 2001 when he got his first big fish. We were at the family pond on a Sunday afternoon hanging out with family. We fished before heading home and I planned on cooking some fish if we caught enough. Hank at this time liked to imitate Bill Dance as much as he liked to fish. He would cast out a lure and then pretend he had a big one and reel it in while giving a little commentary. So, while he played and enjoyed, I focused on catching supper. I had a small bass on the stringer when, suddenly, I heard a splash behind me on the dam of the small pond. Quickly, I turned to look as Hank was leaning back with his crappie rod doubled over. As I ran to him the drag on the Zebco was singing and I knew he had a good one. After a fight that seemed like forever, the bass tired out at the edge of the bank and I moved slowly down to lip it. I pulled the five-pound largemouth out of the water and we both screamed. The fish made the front page of the county paper and Hank’s addiction to fishing was set. That picture still holds a special place on my desk and I look and remember that day, often.
About a year and a half later, I finally bit the bullet and bought a boat. This put Hank, my dad, and I back out on the water. Once again, there were three generations of Lowries back out on the water together chasing crappie, telling stories, and spending time with one another. We had lots of great times and even caught a few fish, but Hank was starting show signs that crappie fishing wasn’t his main interest.
One day on a fishing trip, Hank told me he wanted to fish a bass tournament. I explained to him I really knew nothing about tournaments, but he wanted to all the same. With a little searching I found an organization that was an adult and junior tournament trail that is now known as the National Bass Fishing Trail. What started slowly for Hank grew into an obsession and soon the 6-year-old novice bass fisherman became the 8-year-old money winner. Next, he became a 10-year-old tournament winner.
Tournament fishing continued to grow in Hank like a wildfire while I, simply, enjoyed being with my son during the hours we spent on the water. I became the National Bass Tour district director and together we started a high school team when Hank entered high school. Of course, I became Hank’s coach. As high school fishing grew, I started a trail in our area of the state and Hank continued to pursue his dreams. Everything I did; I did for my son.
During the summer of 2013, after trying since 2008, Hank won the National Bass Tour Junior National Championship. To win that championship takes three days of solid fishing. Hank didn’t just win, but he ran away with it winning by 12.02 pounds. Being in the boat watching him make all the decisions and getting to net those fish gave a father more pride and joy than I can describe. I was an emotional mess the whole week and when it came time to call my dad and tell him Hank had won, I basically told Dad he had won and handed Hank the phone because I couldn’t talk. Simply put it was the greatest week of my life watching my son achieve his dream. Truthfully, I saw it as the culmination of a lot of hard work and fun times spent on the water by a team. Not a team of children that I had to watch from afar, but a team composed of a father and son.
As much as I enjoyed that tournament held in the summer of 2013 that was just a small part of what fishing has brought to my son and I. It wasn’t just tournaments. We fished ponds. We fished for crappie with Grandpa as often as we could. We chased rockfish on the river and usually made a deep-sea fishing trip in the gulf, every so often. Hank is now grown and he has begun to create his own life as a young man. However, while the time he and I have together has been reduced as Hank has grown older, we still fish together in the pond or in the boat every chance we get. And sometimes fishing with Hank, today, takes me back to a time when he and I were together many years ago and he was just that little boy with a crappie pole sitting on the edge of a pond hoping to see his bobber go beneath the surface of the water. Times like these I owe to this sport; a sport that allowed a father and his son time together.
There’s so much more I could write about fishing with Hank; I could write a book or two. The main point I hope everyone reading can understand is that fishing, no matter if it was at the pond or in a tournament, gave me more time with my son while he grew up than anything else. I cannot imagine a better way to have spent one-on-one time with my son when he was growing up. It’s impossible to count the hours we spent together, and I treasure every second of them. I have memories locked away that hold their own special place in my mind; special memories that I like to remember those times during a week where one has moments to contemplate their life.
Fishing has always been my favorite sport. But fishing for me provided more than just sport, it gave me time with my father, my grandfathers, and my son. I urge you to begin making memories with your loved ones.
Get a license, get some gear, gather some family or friends and get fishing!