Making Fishing a Family Tradition
by Ron Presley
Editor’s Note: It is no accident that the Ishcomer family is “hooked” on catfish. When parents love to fish and take their kids with them the kids are likely to love fishing too. It started out on the shoreline but developed into a passion that keeps this family together on the water. In 2018 they followed the Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail to nine destination cities. They also fished the SeaArk Owners Tournament, Mississippi River Monsters, and Monsters on the Ohio. Looking forward they will be traveling to Alabama for the Winter Blues on Wheeler Tournament. And Nikki and Hannah will be fishing with Cindy Stokes in the all ladies Chick Fight tournament in April.
A catfishing family that puts God and family first.
When you grow up in a fishing family some of it is bound to rub off. In the case of Hannah and Noah Ishcomer a whole lot of it rubbed off. Jerry and Nikki Ishcomer have always loved to fish. In the early years they didn’t have a boat so fishing was from the shore.
“Jerry and I have always loved to fish,” revealed Nikki. “We would go bank fishing. We didn’t have a boat before the kids were born. Fishing is what we loved to do. So as the kids came along, we naturally took them with us. They developed their own love for it.”
The first Ishcomer boat came in 2010 and opened up a whole new range of possibilities for the Ishcomer family.
“When we bought our first boat, we noodled (jug fishing),” recalled Nikki. “It was so much fun for them, because it was hands-on fishing. Then as Jerry started watching YouTube videos of trophy catfishing and learned what people like Steve Douglas and Larry Muse were doing, he decided it would be fun for us to try. So, in 2017 we bought a 2472 Big Daddy SeaArk, and the rest, as they say is history!”
That new SeaArk sealed the deal and was just what they needed. The Ishcomer’s were hooked, individually, as husband and wife, and as a family with all the kids. Fishing was just the natural thing to do for fun and it is pretty evident that the sport of catfishing has gained three enthusiastic youth anglers.
Jerry and Nikki make their home in Jasper, TX with their three kids, Hannah, Noah, and Rachel. They claim the waters of Lake Sam Rayburn as their home waters. Home schooling allows the kids to travel as the family follows the tournament trail.
Sixteen-year-old Hannah is the oldest. She has been developing her catfish skills for several years. One of Nikki’s fondest memories is of a much younger Hannah and a flathead catfish.
“I remember Hannah’s face,” said Nikki. “She had caught a flathead that weighed about eight pounds. She said, ‘Oh it’s huge.” It was special because she hooked it with bait that she had caught herself, in her own throw net. She was seven years old.”
When it comes to catfishing Hannah looks up to her daddy. He’s the one who has taught her about catfishing and life.
“I look up to my daddy,” offered Hannah. “He is my hero. He has come through so much, and regardless of how everything is around him, he is always smiling and giving God thanks for being able to make another day. He has taught me to put God and family first. He has taught me to throw my own pole, bait my own hooks, and catch my own bait.”
Anyone who knows the Ishcomers will not be surprised at Hannah’s understanding of the most important thing about catfishing.
“The most important thing to me about catfishing is the Christian family bond that you create while fishing together,” advised Hannah. “Whether we are catching our bait, or filling our RigRaps for a big tournament, it is always a priority to keep God first, and God is always in the middle of our family.”
Hannah has an interest in the future of catfishing and hopes to influence it. Her own love for the sport has moved her to want to influence other young anglers.
“I have goal that I personally would love to achieve in this sport,” concluded Hannah. “It would be to have enough influence with the younger generation, so that I could show them a love for catfishing. I would like others to know the same love that my dad has taught me about catfishing. I know that if we don’t get the younger people involved, then the sport would be completely lost. That would be horrible, because I know how catfishing can positively affect a person’s life. It definitely has affected my life in a positive light!”
Noah Ishcomer (Fishcomer)
At age 14, Noah has already earned a nickname. It probably couldn’t be helped when the first three letters of his last name are “ish” it’s only natural that someone would add an “F” and tag him with the moniker of Fishcomer. His pastor came up with the nickname and Noah wears it proudly.
Like his sister, Noah looks up to his dad as the person most responsible for introducing him to catfishing. And also like his sister, he enjoys spending family time on the water.
“My hero is my dad,” says Noah. “He is one of the strongest men I know, both spiritually and mentally. I never fail to wake up in the morning without hearing him praying for his family.”
Noah learned a lot about fishing from his dad, but he has learned from other anglers that he looks up to. They include Larry Muse, Chris Souders, Carl Morris, Jr. and Rob Parsons.
“They never hesitate to give advice,” offered Noah. “They are consistent with catching big fish, they always take time out and talk to me. They don’t just treat me like some kid like many others do. They often seek me out to talk to me. It means a lot to have such great people take time out to talk to you.”
Noah has had his own success in catfishing. In addition to the team wins and finishes on the tournament trail, he claimed a record of his own. He holds the record for Junior Angler, Big Fish, on Lake Sam Rayburn with a 31-pound blue cat. His future goal in catfishing is to grow in the sport.
“I just want to learn all that I can from everyone around me,” concluded Noah. “Then be angler of the year someday—then pass what I’ve learned to a younger generation of fishers.”
Following close behind Hannah and Noah, and observing all this catfishing thing, is five-year-old Rachel. Nikki says Rachel loves catfishing too. Her hero is her daddy, but she looks up to Hannah and Noah too. She especially enjoys the Kid’s Fishing Rodeos that Cabela’s King Kat holds on Saturday morning tournament days.
“Rachel loves the catfish,” reported Nikki. “She doesn’t pick them up yet, because we don’t want her to get finned and then be scared and not want to pick them up later.”
Rachel has her favorites too. She has taken a liking to a couple of tournament anglers and King Kat tournament director, Jeremy Coe.
“Rachel loves Lonnie and Donnie fountain,” said Nikki. “She has also developed a kinship of sorts for Jeremy Coe. She saw quite a bit of Jeremy at the King Kat tournaments and now refers to him as Uncle Jeremy.”
“We really don’t have a lot of family,” shared Nikki. “We started seeing Jeremy every week, and Rachel started fishing the kids rodeos with Jeremy. She just started telling him every time she saw him, ‘I love you Jeremy.’ He would tell her the same. When she knew it was going to be our last tournament with Cabela’s she started crying and said, ‘When will I ever see Uncle Jeremy again? I texted him and told him what she said. He said you tell her, ‘I am Uncle Jeremy and she can call, or text, or video chat, anytime. She is his special girl that he lets draw all of his raffle tickets at the tournaments.”
“Lonnie and Donnie are her favorites (don’t tell),” continued Nikki. “We met them at Helena, AR. “Rachel started talking to Donnie. She told him on the first weigh in day of the tournament that she would be praying for him the next day to catch a big fish. She woke me up the next morning, and we prayed for Donnie and Lonnie. That was day-two of the tournament and she had Donnie wrapped around her finger. She met them at the boat hollering, ‘I’ve been praying for you, Lonnie and Donnie.’ She sees him and she just goes running. Their love is mutual. I think our lack of family around us, makes her look for people to love. Everyone at the tournaments loves Rachel!”
A year of following the 2018 Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail landed the Ishcomer kids a prize they never expected. They were very surprised when Darrell Van Vactor and Jeremy Coe presented them with the Cabela’s King Kat Junior Anglers of the Year at the Classic in Jeffersonville, IN.
Hannah and Noah had competed in tournaments and Rachel had participated in several Kids Fishing Rodeos. Van Vactor and Coe thanked Jerry and Nikki for getting the kids involved in the outdoors.
The award was a fitting tribute for the Catfishing Christians that traveled the highways in 2018 in search of Mr. Whiskers and found much more.