The business has always been a family business.
Jennifer still works there every day doing all the paper work,
keeping the books and even occasionally counting out shrimp.
Their second son, Greg, was born the year they opened the
shop in 1988 and, according to Lowmans customers, they
still remember oldest son, Aaron, when he ran the cash register
but could hardly see over the counter.
"I always kept an eye on him", says Lowman.
"Customers couldnt believe he could actually make
correct change, but he was right nine times out of 10."
Aaron, a sophomore in college, still works at the shop about
20 hours a week. Greg, a junior at Manatee High School, creates
all the flies, jigs and lures that bear the Island Discount
The Lowmans also managed to keep their hands in publishing
while running the shop and raising their new family. They
produced a newspaper (with a circulation of 10,000) called
"Fishing the Islands," which covered the angling
opportunities on the Island. After five years, the paper gave
way to a series of tournaments that took the "Fishing
the Islands" name.
From the beginning, the tournament benefited the Anna Maria
Island Community Center.
According to Lowman, "The Center had a small tournament
that was fun, but was never successful at raising money. We
took them under our wing with the understanding that the funds
raised would go to kids sports programs. In nine years
we raised in the neighborhood of $100,000."
The tournament included some innovations that werent
seen in other events, including an inshore and offshore category,
live release for inshore fish, and big prize money for the
While the tournament was a terrific success, after a few years
it seemed the prize money and winning became the focus of
the event, instead of having fun.
"We decided to take a hiatus," says Lowman. "We
wanted to rethink the tournament and see if we couldnt
bring it back to the concept we originally had, a fun tournament
that raised money."
In 2000, after 12 years at the Anna Maria Island Center, the
Lowmans had the opportunity to purchase a building at 23rd
Street and Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach. Just two years after
relocating the business to the new address, they were approached
by the Milt May family, who had recently purchased Captains
Marina in Anna Maria. Soon after, they opened their second
store at the newly named Catchers Marina.
"It was a terrific opportunity," says Lowman, "but
it put a big strain on the family running two businesses while
raising a family. We were so impressed with the way the Mays
turned the marina around that, when we had an offer to sell
our Bradenton Beach property and consolidate our efforts on
Anna Maria, we jumped at the chance."
When I asked Lowman about rumors of a new Anna Maria fishing
tournament, he responded with a bit of a twinkle in his eye.
"The "Fishing the Islands" Tournament is a
part of Island history, but were lending our support
and expertise to the Anna Maria Island Community Center Fishing
Tournament this year. The tournament will be held on Fathers
Day weekend, and it will have a whole new focus."
The Lowmans arent sure if their sons will want to take
over the business one day, but right now thats down
the road, according to Lowman.
"Its too early to tell," he says "but
were happy here and have a long-term lease. We dont
plan on going anywhere for a long time. We think we have the
best little tackle shop in Florida."