In the Spotlight: Gary Dollahon
by Tim Huffman
Dollahon PR is a powerhouse in the outdoor industry
Born in 1953, Gary Dollahon is originally from New Mexico, but now lives in Oklahoma with his wife, Donna. They have two children and three grandchildren. His home lake is Ft. Gibson, but he has six good crappie lakes within an hour’s drive.
Dollahon loves the fishing industry and has spent his career working to promoting it. His firm, Dollahon PR based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been a major player in introducing many products. He has other adventures, too, including being the Oklahoma reporter for Barry Stokes fishing show that airs 39 weeks a year on Fox affiliates. He also has Crappie University.
“In 2006 I formed Dollahon PR (Public Relations), serving mostly companies in the outdoors. Currently, I’m Brand Manager for Bobby Garland Crappie Baits. I got into outdoor industry-related jobs and my paths kept crossing with the bait industry. I worked doing marketing for Zebco, Gene Larew and others. It seemed natural to form my own PR business.”
Maybe you’ve heard of the Bobby Garland Baby Shad, Slab Slay’R and Stroll’R? The brand name had faded, but Dollahon helped get Bobby Garland Crappie Baits to the top of the crappie fishing ladder.
What’s fun about your job? – “I get to interact with people who have the same passion for the outdoors that I have. And I love to be involved in the introduction of new products, from the design to naming a product, and I have been responsible for many introductions of new reels, lures and baits.”
You mentioned naming baits. You have some pretty odd names out there? – “Yes we do. The crappie category lends itself to a lot of colors more so than any other category. You can have a lot of fun with colors. Sometimes we make a bait and name it while other times we come up with a name and create a color for it.” A few Bobby Garland names include Screamer, Devil’s Grin, Cajun Cricket, Blue Moon, BBQ Chicken, Green Banana, Mud Dauber and Sweet Tea with Lemon.
What about your support for the crappie industry? – “I’ve always supported the crappie industry. If we have a product in a particular category, we need to support every aspect of it and be a brand leader. That includes supporting the tournaments and fishermen.”
Job perk?- “I have a chance to fish with some of the best fishermen in the country. With that, it’s hard to say that I enjoy that any more than I do being on my home water in my own boat with family or friends. I do get to fish a lot.”
Comment on today’s fishing? – “Too many people take it too seriously and try to complicate everything. We’ve got to have the best assortment of technology but it still comes down to a line and bait. I think our complication of the sport is a large barrier to those who might want to come in and fish.”
Favorite fishing memory? – “My best memories are the ones where I’ve had a great experience with my wife, kids, fishing with the media, trips when funny things happen.”
Fishing hero? – “My wife, because from the first time she picked up a rod and reel she started catching fish and hasn’t stopped since.
Favorite stuff: Boat food? – Moon Pie. Sports teams? – Oklahoma State and Tulsa University. Movie? – Forest Gump. Book? – Humor writings by Patrick McManus.
Superstitions? – “I hate to catch a fish on the first cast because it makes for a tough day. And I have been going down the road, had a black cat cross in front, so I turn around and sidetrack a little to go around.
You’re 68. Are you ready to retire? – “I think retirement is a myth. People I know who retire work as hard or harder than ever. My job allows time for my family so as long as I can mentally and physically do my job, I’ll be right there.”
Something most people don’t know about you? – “I love country music. I like to play the harmonica and have thousands of miles driving while playing it. Donna and I love to country dance.
Best advice you’ve received? – “It was from my mom. She would drive me to a public lake in New Mexico and drop me off. She always said, ‘You can’t catch a fish if you don’t have a line in the water.’ I had a bad habit of changing baits or messing with it all the time. The advice still applies today.”
How would you like to be remembered? – “As someone who liked to share the outdoors, whether from experience, work or knowledge.”
(Tim Huffman has specialized in crappie fishing, writing and photography since 1988. He is currently the Editor/Senior Writer for Crappie Masters Magazine, freelance contributor to four magazines, book author and Senior Writer for CrappieNow Digital Magazine.)