Walt Bowen, a name often associated with Kerr Lake fishing, was on Tuesday’s edition of WIZS’ Town Talk program to discuss the lake’s vast potential and to provide a fishing “tall tale” or two.
Bowen, a Henderson native and retired IT executive for Sara Lee and Hanes, said he and his son started fishing on Kerr Lake approximately 25 years ago and have been hooked ever since. “It’s a competition that’s almost like an addiction,” said Bowen.
Participating in numerous fishing and angling tournaments over the years, Bowen almost reached the professional level in 2018. “I’m not quite at the professional level yet, but I’ve gotten very close,” Bowen said.
When not on the lake fishing, Bowen enjoys writing about fishing. As the author of “On the Water,” a weekly fishing column that runs in the Sports section of The Daily Dispatch on Sundays, Bowen is able to share his experiences and suggestions.
“I’ve been writing that column for 13 years now and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Bowen said. “I was reading the paper one day and I thought ‘they don’t have a fishing report.’ I contacted the sports editor about starting a fishing column, and that’s how it got started. That column has helped me develop many new relationships.”
Bowen has also written several magazine articles for the North Carolina Sportsman.
In addition to the enjoyment of fishing on Kerr Lake, Bowen said he sees the financial potential of the area. “Angling and tournament fishing are financial generators. A lake like Kerr Lake that has nice, open and plentiful parking and boat ramps like you find at Nutbush should attract people.”
Bowen said the return of bigger fishing tournaments like the ones held in the 1970s would be a huge boost to the local economy. This sentiment was shared in WIZS’ recent interview with the Vance County Tourism Development Authority who stated attracting larger tournaments was a high priority.
“We need to get the word out that this is a world-class fishery, which it is, so we can draw folks here. The recent Fishing University show helped to get the word out, but we need to continue to spread that message,” said Bowen.
As far as good fishing stories, Bowen chuckled and said he has plenty of those. One of the best ones he has heard about Kerr Lake involves a high school teacher and football coach catching a “world-record 143-lb. blue catfish” in the lake in 2011.
“You always hear the stories of catfish as big as men; turns out they’re true,” laughed Bowen.
To hear the Town Talk interview with Walt Bowen in its entirety, click here.
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