Chester Allen/aka “BKing” says fishing inspired his recovery from 13 strokes. Courtesy photo

By Tony Jones

MEMPHIS, TN — Chester Allen has a life tale for the ages. The 55-year-old supply chain manager had a debilitating stroke last year that left him totally crippled and with quadruple vision.  His best friend Preston Gibson passed away from Covid and his doctors told him he had no hope for recovery. 

But the worse part about it all was that he would have to put “BKing” to the side. The rapper styled nickname stands for “Bank Fishing King,” laid on him because since the age of 6, he’s spent every moment he could beside or on some body of water throwing a hook. Good thing his wife enjoys it also, because outside of family it’s what he lives for.

A bit more than six months after his strokes he was back to doing what he loves best, having a fish fry with some friends, one coincidentally also recovering from a stroke.

“My wife and I went to Arkabutla Lake. It was the most exciting time ever. I had suffered 13 strokes and the doctors gave me no hope at all. I couldn’t walk.  I couldn’t see. I saw four images whenever I looked at anything. It was horrifying.”

Only the news of Gibson’s death was worse. He told Gibson’s wife she could sell the boat they bought together so they could go fishing every chance they got. “She kept encouraging me that one day I would get back on it,” he says.

“The doctors said that I was going to live that way the rest of my life. I just kept meditating on the Lord and after six months He gave me my left arm back. It was twisted up against my body, you know, the way you see people that have had a stroke. And all the time I kept seeing myself fishing again. That’s all I thought about. I just love it. I do.” He’s even recorded a CD called “Gone Fishing”.

According to tnvacation.com, Tennessee has 500,000 acres of lakes and 50,000 miles of streams to enjoy. In Dec. 2021, Gov. Bill Lee announced a $15 million improvement partnership creating Bill Dance Signature Lakes, named for professional fishing icon Bill Dance, who lives in Collierville. 

The American Sportfishing Association cites 1.7 million people fish here annually, generating $1.2 billion in annual revenue and 7,480 jobs. Cane pole fishing poles sticking out of windows is still a common urban sight. You can see people every day fishing in little ponds right off Elvis Presley Boulevard. 

Which brings up a long-standing question.  Should you eat fish from city fed sources?

If you’re selective, Allen says. “They’re fishing off Nonconnah, which I never do. It picks up sewer water. I can think of over 20 spots right now in Memphis that are very clean. All you got to do is Google Earth to find out how long a lake’s been there and its water sources.”

A rod and reel man himself, Lee said he owns more than a hundred. “I don’t have a favorite. I just grab one.” 

He’s got the subtleties down. “Crappie require a lot of attention and patience. You have to get used to coordinating your hand, arm and eye movement. You have to know how to throw under trees, in the spaces. They like bright colors, and they don’t bite just anything. Bass are fun, too. They hang out close to the bank. And check this out, they lie down on their sides in the mud. And they’re territorial and ruthless. Ain’t nothing coming in his area unless he’s getting a commission!” he laughs. “Catfish are easy. We used to catch them with chicken livers but now they’ll eat anything. I like eating bream the best out of all of them.”