In addition, what I have learned from my dad . . . is how to battle, how to overcome adversity. . . how to fight for life.
“My father, Terry, battled to beat squamous cell lung cancer in 2019,” said Mercury Pro Staff member Todd Hollowell, a professional bass angler who is co-host of the FLW LIVE TV show. “He took me fishing when I was a kid, which inspired me to want to make a living as a pro angler. Now, my father inspires me to fight life’s daily battles.”
Todd added that he is excited about “coming full circle to be able to take him fishing in 2020.”
In the late 1970s and ’80s, Todd grew up in Anderson, Indiana, where his father worked building cars at one of the local General Motors plants.
“There was a big group of men who worked in those GM factories who loved bass fishing and really built the tournament bass fishing community around Indianapolis, and my dad was part of that group,” Todd recalled. “There were several guys that he worked with at GM who took me fishing on their old “bomber” bass boats . . . That was my first real experience fishing bass tournaments from a boat.”
Thanks to Terry and his bass-fishing buddies, Todd competed in local tournaments through junior high and high school, but he also had a conflicting passion – baseball. “Baseball season is in the spring and summer, at the same time as fishing season,” he said.
Todd chose baseball, beginning a career that lasted from 1994 to 1999, including four years at a Division 1 college and two playing for the independent Frontier League. After a career-ending shoulder injury, he took a job as a pitching coach at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Then, in 2002, Todd finally left baseball altogether.
“I got a real-world job . . . but I totally missed the competition,” he said. “In the winter of 2002, I walked into a Walmart. I went back to look at the fishing stuff, and there were two men in the sporting goods department recruiting anglers for the inaugural season of the Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL).”
Todd joined the league and qualified for both the BFL Regional and the All-American tournaments in his first season. “I was hooked, and I went out and bought a Ranger boat the very next year,” he said.
Todd worked his way up from local tournaments to the big leagues of professional bass fishing, ultimately qualifying for the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Tour.
“My dad was a lot of times my travel partner . . . he went everywhere with me,” he said. “He would practice with me; he was my cook and my laundry guy, and kind of like my right-hand man those first couple of years on tour to help me focus on fishing. It was a big part of my being able to make that transition (to fishing at a higher level) successfully.”
Todd fondly remembers the day in January 2019 when he and legendary pro angler Jimmy Houston were invited to be guest speakers at an Open House at Brownie’s Marine Sales in Fairland, Indiana.
“Growing up, I watched Jimmy Houston’s TV show,” Todd said. He brought along his dad and his prized lure, a Zara Spook that Terry had given to him, which is one of Houston’s signatures. “I’ve probably won $100,000 with that one particular lure,” Todd said. The two Hollowells posed for a photo with Houston holding Todd’s lure.
Not long after, doctors found a mass in Terry’s right lung.
“By April 2019, they had discovered a squamous cell tumor,” Todd said. “In May 2019, the lower lobe of his right lung was removed.” He stayed with his dad throughout his ordeal at Indiana University Hospital, which he credits with saving Terry’s life. The surgery was followed by chemotherapy last fall.
“At the beginning of this year, they found the cancer was gone,” Todd reported. “We got him a T-shirt that said, ‘I beat cancer now I’m going fishing.’
“I think dads teach their sons a lot of different things,” Todd said. “My father introduced me to fishing, which has become one of my lifelong passions. I have a career in the sport because my dad took me fishing, and for that I am forever grateful. In addition, what I have learned from my dad . . . is how to battle, how to overcome adversity. . . how to fight for life.”