2024 Inductees

Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame

Bruce & Barbara Furlow

Bruce FurlowBruce and Barbara never had the largest boat or the fanciest tackle. What they lacked in equipment and creature comforts, they made up for with passion, grit, and determination. Each weekend in the season they would put their 25-foot Bertram “Pixie” through its paces; often fishing in extreme conditions, beyond the limits of its design. On a particularly rough day at sea, Bruce had to attempt to repair cracks in the superstructure with Marine-Tex epoxy.

Even after they upgraded to a 33-footer, Bruce was his own captain. Once he was old enough, their son took over the deckhand duties, and Barbara, threw herself into becoming the star angler. Bruce rigged all his own baits, set drags, maintained the boat, and charted the course to whichever fishing spot was rumored to be hot.

Small boats in rough waters were the standard back then. Three-day tournaments were the norm. And everyone involved was expected to be “tournament tough”. It wasn’t long before the other captains took notice of the little Bertram with the even smaller angler far offshore, rigger to rigger with large, high-budget teams. The other Captains affectionately referred to the Pixie as “little brother”. Small, but scrappy.

Bruce and Barbara brought a sense of camaraderie and levity to the tournaments and ensuing parties, making sports fishing fun even on the slow days. And there were more than a few slow days.

Barbara FurlowIn the late ‘70s, deep-sea fishing was a male dominated sport. I guess someone forgot to tell Barbara. She took her role as primary angler seriously. She watched her baits, hooked her own fish, and never shied away from an epic three-hour battle on light tackle. At lines in, she would fix her hair and makeup. By the time they reached the dock, she was ready to pose stylishly with her fish for the tourists who gathered to snap Polaroids. To this day, you can find old postcards for Port Aransas featuring my petite Mother standing next to her huge marlin.

It turns out she wasn’t alone. Port Aransas gradually became home to a small but growing group of prominent women anglers who dominated bill fishing on the Texas Gulf Coast. Barbara and others like Penny McFadden (Slingerland), Kora Keeler, and Patty Hawn charted new territory, garnering media attention, and challenged the status quo. These trailblazers embraced the friendly competition of tournament fishing, driving each other toward excellence and paving the way for generations to come.

Over the years, their dogged commitment began to pay off. Bruce and Barbara saw success in most of the major Port Aransas tournaments. They were particularly prominent in the Deep-Sea Round Up. Between the years of 1975 and 1990 they won numerous offshore division titles culminating in the 1982 Deep Sea Roundup Championship. With a large white marlin and sailfish, both taken on 12# tackle. Barbara had taken second place twice before on 12#. Once in a heartbreaker, when she lost the winning sailfish at the boat.

Bruce & Barbara Furlow 21982 turned out to be their year. In addition to winning the Round Up, they took second place in Poco Bueno, and placed in the Dean Hawn, Texas Championship (TCBT), and Port Aransas Masters. Bruce still recounts with pride and humor the Glory Days when the “Pixie” was a constant fixture at the tournament weigh station, winners’ circle, and post-event celebrations.

Later in life, Bruce endowed the perpetual Tarpon Trophy now awarded as part of the Deep-Sea Round Up, and quietly supported the Junior Division trophies for 15 years. Even now, at age 91, Bruce splices together new tail ropes for use at the Deep-Sea Round Up weigh station. The ones he made 20 years ago had finally begun to fray and no one else seemed to remember how to make them.

Barbara passed away in 2016. She fished with her grandkids well into her 70s, still stylish and enthusiastic. In fact, a few years before her passing she body-blocked her grandson to grab a screaming reel and released what would be her last sailfish, putting points on the board in the Deep-Sea Round Up 25 years after winning the tournament.