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Texas Trailblazers

A Family (Fishing) Affair


Energy ripples off Willard Franklin III like the circles that spread across the water after a fish jumps. You see, with his Four Ws Fishing Team and Four Ws Outdoors, he’s on a mission to change the face of outdoor recreation to one that represents the real world.

Besides, the fish are always biting and his family’s eternally ready to hit the water. After all, the Four Ws — Willard and wife Wanda and grownup kids Willard IV and Wendy — are a family fishing team based in Houston.

“When Willard IV was 1, I’d put him in his little car seat and there he would sit, holding his pole when dad fished,” Willard recalls. “Wendy started at 3. When the fish were not biting, she’d start to cry. When they started biting, she would drop her pole and run.”

Today the family (the kids are grown and no longer crying) is the face of Houston-area fishing, both freshwater and saltwater, but their work doesn’t stop there. The Four Ws specialize in safety, diversity, inclusion, conservation and careers in the outdoors. For Willard, this includes water safety, archery, kayaking, shooting sports, hunting and boating safety. In fact, the National Safe Boating Council recently filmed the family to help promote National Safe Boating Week.

Willard III didn’t fall from the tree, as his mom, Isabel, still fishes with the family, no matter the weather. They’re all intensely competitive.

“We bet on the person who catches the biggest fish and the most fish,” he says. “That’s when the fun begins and the trash-talking starts.”

The family goes on frequent outings to pursue their passion and their mission.

“Playing outdoors as a family is really the highlight of any day,” Willard says. “Wanda and I both came from outdoor families; that was our parents’ way of strengthening the bond in our family.”

The future looks bright as Willard and the other 3Ws look to bring their way of life to any group that wants to be part of outdoor fun, particularly underserved youth and women. To sponsor the group or join in, contact Willard at fourwsfishingteam@yahoo.com.

 Courtesy Franklin family