“It’s pretty rewarding, living the dream,” Todd Hollowell said.
The pro angler spoke from his truck as he returned to Fishers from a week in South Carolina and Florida. Of course, he said, hauling a boat through traffic might not be one of the highlights of the trip.
Hollowell spends 15 to 20 weeks a year competing in the FLW Tour. In the first event of 2014 held at Lake Okeechobee in Florida, he finished in 77th place and made some money. “Not bad. Not bad,” he said. “I got paid and I’m headed home.”
Hollowell, 37, and his brother, Troy Hollowell, 31, grew up in Anderson, Ind., and fished in Geist with their dad. Troy Hollowell, who lives in Paducah, Ky., is in his first year as a pro angler. Todd Hollowell is in his third year.
The two brothers meet up and travel together to the tournaments.
A natural athlete, Todd Hollowell played high school, college and even a few seasons of professional baseball before entering a fishing tournament in Nashville, Tenn., in 2002 as an amateur. He sat in the back of someone else’s boat and tried his luck.
“I was just kind of hooked. I was hooked,” he said.
Todd Hollowell has connected with many mentors over the years. Unlike most professional sports, successful anglers can be any age and any ethnicity, male or female.
He is paying it forward by mentoring a bass fishing team at Marian University. His television show, “Bass Dr.,” runs on the World Fishing Network and brings bass fishing to an even larger audience.
It takes more than fishing skill to make it as a pro angler. Without sponsors, expenses would soon eat up any winnings. Todd Hollowell’s first major sponsor was Red Gold Tomatoes. “They opened the avenue to me to launch my professional career,” he said.
The largest privately owned tomato processor in the United States is located in Elwood, Ind., about 45 minutes down the road from Geist. The company supports amateur and professional athletes and events.
“It was one of those things where it was a fit,” he said. Red Gold and his other sponsors allow the bass fisher to travel and own and maintain equipment including a boat and the truck to haul it.
Modern technology allows Todd Hollowell to be an independent insurance agent at Ray Insurance Agency in Fishers where he lives with his wife, Rebecca Hollowell, a nurse at St. Vincent Heart Center, and their two sons, Hunter, 9, and Hayden, 6.
The iPhone has become his on-the-road office.
Fishing provides income for Todd Hollowell and has a positive economic impact on the area that is sometimes overlooked, the angler said.
Up to 80 fishermen will come from out of town for Tuesday night tournaments. They will buy fuel and food when they are in the area.
Weekends will see at least one if not two tournaments that bring in even more sportsmen.
For Todd Hollowell, the appeal of Geist is clear. “Geist, in my opinion, is one of the best — if not the best — bass fishing lakes in Indiana,” he said.
Over the last five years, the habitat for the largemouth bass the reservoir is known for has improved. The water is clearer because of the zebra mussels, and the fish thrive in the weedy milfoil on the bottom.
“We have some of the biggest fish in the state of Indiana on Geist Reservoir because of that,” he said.
Looking to fish?
Why not join a fishing tournament on Geist Reservoir?
Starting times and fees vary, so call 317-335-3222 for details. These events begin at the Olio Boat Launch at 116th Street and Olio Road in Fishers.
Check with Geist Lake Marina for even more tournaments. Kent Duckwall, director of marina operations, promises a competition almost every weekend during March through November. For more information, call 317-849-8455.
- Ongoing: Tuesday nights from about 5 to 9 p.m., April through October
- March 22: Cabin Fever Open
- March 29: Speedway Open
- April 5: Fishers Men
- April 26 and April 28: Top 8
Connect with Geist Lake Marina at facebook.com/GeistLakeFishing.