The Next Generation
Beau Browning is a student of the fishing game
By Dwain Hebda
Asked what makes a successful fisherman, 15-year-old Beau Browning pauses a moment. He’s been fishing practically since he could stand up, and much of his accomplishment in the sport has come to him so naturally it’s hard to break it down into components.
“Just knowing how to read a lake, pretty much,” he says at last. “Being able to go out and factor in conditions like wind, water temperature, air temperature, water clarity. All those factors come in when you’re reading a lake.”
Beau could also have listed practice as a key component of his success, as he spends every free moment from school and other commitments out on the water, often alone except for his dog. This combination of skills has made him more than your run-of-the-mill angler. He’s been fishing competitively since he was in grade school and is a back-to-back defending champion at the Arkansas Bass Nation State Championship.
In August 2016, he and McCoy Vereen, his partner, also landed the Costa Bassmaster Junior Championship national title in Tennessee. The duo dominated the event, landing each day’s big fish and winning the overall—despite having to throw back more than two pounds of fish due to a rules snafu.
Beau’s father Stephen, who has spent more than two decades in the ranks of Bassmasters Elite and serves as the boys’ coach, has had a lakeside seat watching his son’s development.
“Beau really spends an extreme amount of time on the water,” Stephen says. “In summer, I would say he’s four to five days a week, easy, just fishing. He fishes a lot after school. He’s one of those kids that could stay in tune with what’s going on, not only with the fish but I think the environment, and that has a lot to do with him understanding it for his success.”
Even before he had the competitive success to back it up, Stephen says he could see an early spark in his son that suggested fishing would be a lifelong passion.
“I could tell that he had a passion to fish, whether it be trout, bass or bream fish; he just had the patience and the want-to to just go do it,” he continues. “When you see other kids where baseball is all they want to do or football is all they want to do, well, that’s a seasonal type deal. But Beau, shoot, from a very, very young age he just always wanted to go fishing.”
Now a freshman at Lakeside High School in Hot Springs, Beau will add high school meets to the roughly one dozen tournaments he’ll fish in a given year.
“I’ve only had two tournaments this year which haven’t been so great, but that’s all right,” he says matter-of-factly. “That’s just the start.”
His competitive success has taken him to a number of fishing holes, but he says his favorite remains right here in the Natural State.
“I like Lake Ouachita, which is pretty close to us here, probably a 30-minute drive,” he says. “That has to be probably my favorite lake to fish. It’s a beautiful lake.”
He’s also turned his attention to the future, setting his sights on a collegiate and, hopefully, professional career, following in the footsteps of his father whom he credits with starting and developing him in the sport.
“Dad started me young and ever since then it’s just been a growing flame,” he said. “I’ll fish for anything if they’re biting, but bass has always just kind of been my favorite. It’s such a fun game fish. I don’t know, it’s just kind of in my blood.”
For more information on Bassmaster tournaments, visit bassmaster.com.