Walter W. Fondren, III
Walter W. Fondren, III, was born in 1936 and has been an avid hunter and fisherman most of his life. His passion for fishing in particular has taken him to all corners of the world and has been the source of some of his life’s greatest accomplishments. Concerned by the noticeable decline of the inshore fisheries caused by commercial overfishing in Texas, Walter became the founding chairman of the Gulf Coast Conservation Association (GCCA). Under his guidance, GCCA grew into an effective, dedicated grassroots organization of concerned conservationists that directed legislation to stop the commercial sale of redfish and speckled trout through the Texas Legislature. In 1981, GCCA successfully fought to establish gamefish status for red drum and speckled trout, setting the stage for Texas to develop world-class fisheries for those two species that recreational anglers enjoy today. GCCA grew into what is now known as the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and has chapters in 17 different states along the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Coast and, recently, the Pacific Northwest. With Walter as chairman, CCA has gained national recognition and respect as an organization dedicated to using the best available science to restore and conserve all coastal pelagic fish. Walter was inducted into the IGFA Hall of Fame in 2004 and served as an IGFA trustee for many years. He is also a member of the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame and the University of Texas Hall of Honor. In 1969, with a group of friends, Walter formed the Poco Bueno Invitational in Port O’Connor. Today, after 40 years, it continues as a premier tournament on the Gulf Coast. Walter served on the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and is a past chairman of the Gulf Council’s Billfish Advisory Panel. He received the Harvey Weil Sportsman/Conservationist Award in 2000 and the prestigious Charles H. Lyles Award in 2001 from the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission in recognition of a lifetime of exceptional contributions on behalf our marine resources. In 2005, he was named one of the 50 legends of fishing by Field and Stream magazine for his part in the creation of GCCA and in guiding its evolution into a national organization. He was also the first recipient of the Coastal Conservation Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
Will L. Ohmstede
Will L. Ohmstede acquired a deep passion for fishing at an early age and has spent his life pursuing that passion while working to conserve healthy coastal resources for the next generation of anglers. Born in Beaumont, Will grew up fishing Galveston Bay, the Bolivar jetties and nearby surf with his dad and brothers. Many of his earliest fishing trips on his father’s 17’ wooden Helton boat with a 22 hp Johnson motor were filled with memorable catches of fish. Will attributes his fishing skills and deep appreciation and respect for coastal resources directly to his father’s guidance and teaching. For more than 40 years, Will has fished the inshore and offshore waters of the entire Gulf Coast. From pursuing blue marling to tripletail, he has embraced all aspects of coastal fishing. As an owner of the “Adelante”, a Hatteras with Capt. Billy Evans at the helm, Will spent countless hours trolling the offshore waters of the Gulf and was successful in numerous billfish tournaments. In the last two decades, Will has been a key leader with the Coastal Conservation Association on both a state and national level. He served 10 years as vice chairman of CCA National and 6 years as the chairman of CCA Texas. Under his guidance, CCA Texas achieved record fundraising and membership growth exceeding 50,000 members throughout the state. He was an early board member and key supporter of Texas Sport PAC and is the founding member and chairman of the development committee of the Center for Coastal Conservation. After years of fishing, Will’s greatest joy continues to be his ability to share his love of sportfishing with his family and friends and to introduce many others to this great sport. Unquestionably, his greatest fishing achievement is that he has become the fastest human to go from the cockpit to the bridge when a fish strikes, so someone else has to do all the reeling!
Doyle F. Wells
Doyle F. Wells, called “Junior” by his friends, came to Port Isabel at the age of four and spent his entire life in the Port Isabel-South Padre Island community. He distinguished himself in business as a marine mechanic, welder, and boat builder which gave him firsthand knowledge and insight into the needs of the marine industry, vital to this seaside community. He was an authority on game fishing and established a bait, tackle and marine supply store named “The Tackle Box”, and his 20-year career as a sea captain and fishing guide, with an international reputation, brought recognition to the Port Isabel-South Padre Island area. Junior was “Texas Grand Champion” at the 1951, Texas International Fishing Tournament. In 1975, he guided one of his clients to a world record 210 lb. tarpon. As a real estate broker and owner of several small businesses, Junior was a pioneer and his influence helped shape the future of South Padre Island. He was the founder of the Tarpon Rodeo and in 1981, he was appointed Cameron County Parks Supervisor. He was a lifetime member of the Port Isabel Volunteer Fire Department, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Board of Realtors, Tarpon Rodeo Board of Directors, Texas International Fishing Tournament Board of Directors and the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. On March 8, 1982, the Eastern portion of the South end of South Padre Island was designated as “Wells Point” by the Cameron County Commissioner’s Court in honor of Doyle F. “Junior” Wells, acclaimed by many as the “fisherman’s fisherman”.
Capt. Lloyd A. Dreyer
Capt. Lloyd A. Dreyer was born in 1924 in Aransas Pass and was brought to Port Aransas by boat a few days later. He has been a lifelong resident of Port Aransas and began his fishing career running charters at the age of 14. Captain’s licenses were not required back then. In the 1950’s his charter boat was a local built Farley boat named “Three Sons” and carried 13 gallons of gasoline. To run to Hospital Rock they used an extra 30 gallon tank and found the rock with a lead line. He served on the committee of the Deep Sea Round Up Fishing Tournament for 18 years. In the early 80’s he won that tournament with two blue marlin, one that weighed 560 lbs. In his own words, “In 1941, I saw my first sailfish. We were on our way in; it was late in the evening and Elmer Sowers hooked it on a drone spoon while trolling for kingfish. It wasn’t landed but gave us a bunch of jumps before he lost it. Back then, we trolled with cane poles tied to the cabin and gear shifts for outriggers. Not much had changed after the War—the old saying is, time will take care of everything… We progressed to Aluminum outriggers with all the trimmings; boats with 12-gallon gas tanks became large boats with diesels, which let them fish farther offshore. Our tournaments here started a long time ago. I was just a boy. My brothers and I fished many of them over the years. During the 50s, I fished up and down the Florida coast and the Bahamas. In the year 1957, we placed 5th in the Cat Cay tuna tournament. In 1958 we placed 3rd, and in 1959 we won it. We fished 5 days and had a total weight of 8 fish that weighed 3,330 pounds. We fished each year through 1964, but the fish had played out and the boss sold the boat. In the following years, I fished Florida, Cozumel, and Cabo San Lucas. In 1984, after returning from Cozumel, I went into guiding bay fishing and have been doing that until early last year when my kidneys failed. I still bay fish with my friends and my sons. My dialysis has cut my fishing days down a lot, but I am happy. Eula Mae, my wife of 65 years keeps me on the straight and narrow, that’s me”.