Capt. William I. Evans
Capt. William I. Evans, known throughout the industry and among all his friends and family as “Capt. Billy”, was born in Seabrook, Texas in 1936. He became self-supporting at age 12 when he began his own business crabbing from a small wooden boat with a Briggs Stratton in-board motor. He would sell his catch to various bait houses as well as the general public. At age of 15, Capt. Billy went to work as a mate on a 54 Motor Sailor, a job he retained until he finished high school and joined the Navy. He left the Navy with an honorable discharge after 4 years and returned to the life he loved on the Texas Gulf Coast, working first as 1st Mate on a couple of luxury yachts and then attaining his Captain’s status. Other than his wife of 32 years (Jeri) there is nothing that he loves more than fishing and keeping his employer’s boat in tip top condition. He will tell anyone who asks that he feels greatly blessed that he had never had a day that he ever dreaded going to work. Capt. Billy’s tenacity and integrity has offered him a long and fruitful career in this industry and his talent for providing his passengers with successful fishing events has made him a favorite among the fishing enthusiasts and at tournaments. He has captained for such distinguished men as Dean Couch on his yacht “Princess Patsy,” Ivor Clark, “Topaz,” and Will Ohmstead, “Adelante.” Capt. Billy is still running “Adelante” for the current owner, Gail Henry, Jr. Capt. Billy is a modest man and when asked about the number of tournaments his boat has won and the many successful fishing trips he has organized, he will only admit that there have been many. He was one of the first captains from the Texas area to take his boat to fish Cozumel, Mexico in 1972 and over the years has fished Florida, Bahamas, Mexico, Belize, and Costa Rica. He’s always willing to share funny stories about various outings and of course he’s proud when his boat came in first at major tournaments, but when asked about is greatest success stories, he comes back to one thing. He is proud of the young men who have served him as 1st Mate and have become outstanding Captains in their own rights. The list is impressive and begin with: Capt. Donald Moore, Capt. Dan Cantrell, Capt. Tommy Joe Gilner, Capt. Mike Butler, Capt. Kirk Elliott, the late Capt. Kevin Mueller, Capt. Keith Ardoine, Capt. Kelly Rutherford, and last but not least is his current 1st Mate Capt. Todd Foerster.
Capt. Gerald Needham
Captain Gerald Needham moved from Dallas to Freeport in 1968 and began his fishing career. He purchased a boat, the Patsy D, earned his captain’s license and started his charter service out of Bridge Harbor Marina. One of his first deck hands was Bobby Byrd, Jr. Bobby remembers Gerald always wearing “whites” and yelling from the bridge “Big Bubba…gaff him quick”. Jerry Dunaway was one of his first clients and Jerry went on to set many billfish records.
In 1974, he left the charter business to captain private yachts for various individuals. During the next 15 years, he captained the Eagle II, Miss Christine, Sukeba II, and the Top Bill. During his 21 year career, he successfully participated in many tournaments along the gulf coast and Chub Cay, Bahamas. In 1989, Gerald passed away from lung cancer at the age of 59.
George "Florida" Roberts
George “Florida” Roberts. Florida and his wife, Elda May, and their three children, Edgar, Louise, and Francis, arrived in and made Port Aransas their home in February of 1930. Prior to moving to Texas they had lived in Florida where he caught his first tarpon in the year 1891. After that he was ‘hooked’ and there was no stopping him. He finally quit counting how many tarpon he caught after he reached 7,500. His name is on the plaque at the Tarpon Inn for catching the first tarpon of the year 38 different times. He also holds the record for hanging the most tarpon up in one day, 10 tarpon. Four of those he had on at one time. Florida also caught hundreds of huge Jew fish. He still holds that record today with a 652.5 pounder. In 1940 Florida had Fred Farley build him a 34’ cabin cruiser so he could fish the offshore banks. He named the boat Trail Blazer. He fished the offshore banks between Port Aransas and South Padre spending days on end anchored on rocks he had found with stopwatch compass. He was the first one to use cane polies to hold baits out from the boat. Today we call them outriggers. Florida lost everything he owned four different times to four different hurricanes. He was never discouraged and always rebuilt and started over each time. Over the years they had fished, fed and boarded hundreds of satisfied fishermen. Florida and Elda May touched many people’s hearts and lives. They were true Texas pioneer legends. Florida was a true Salty Dog. Johnnie Roberts, Florida’s grandson and Nikki Roberts Haley, his great granddaughter both still live in Port Aransas today. He was a true Port Aransas Texas legend.
Don Farley. In the early 1900s, anglers in Port Aransas fished for tarpon in skiffs that were oared around the end of the jetties. Charles Frederick Farley, a master craftsman, moved to Port A to being building boats after storms in 1915 and 1919 wiped out the local fleet. His sons, Don, Fred Jr. and Jim built boats made of Louisiana cypress and Philippine mahogany from about 1915 until the early 1970s. Don Farley soon turned to guiding for his livelihood, fishing for tarpon from April to November and duck-hunting in the winters. Don became quite an accomplished angler and tarpon guide and was one of the first to grind the barbs off hooks to facilitate release, even though the tarpon were abundant at the time. Don brought relatively few tarpon back to the dock but the one in the photo was 85” and weighed 176 lbs, the third largest tarpon caught in Texas waters at the time. During the heyday of Texas tarpon fishing, he guided several famous people including President Franklin D. Roosevelt and big-game angler/author, Kip Farrington. The 1937 photo shows President FDR with a tarpon he landed off the jetties in Port Aransas while fishing with Don Farley (at the helm). Holding the tarpon are Barney Farley and Roosevelt’s son, Elliot. Dr. Richard S. Sutton, who caught an estimated 1,000 tarpon, fished with Don as his guide for fifteen years. He wrote numerous stories about Don and his many trips tarpon fishing off Port A in his book, Silver Kings of Aransas Pass (written in 1937). One of Don’s favorite sayings was “Well Doc, we’re really goin’ to romp on ‘em today.” Don’s son, Don Roy Farley, followed in his footsteps as a guide for over forty years, fishing almost exclusively for tarpon in the 1950s and 1960s. Later, running a 36-foot Farley-built boat, Don Roy became one of the first guides in Port Aransas to run marlin charters to the East Breaks. Both won the Tarpon Rodeo multiple times and have been inducted into the Port Aransas Boatmen Association’s Hall of Fame. More can be found in Phil Shook’s article in the October 1995 issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine titled “Farley Boats and Tarpon: Building a Texas Legend.”