2023 Inductees

Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame

Robert H. Byrd, Jr.

Robert H. Byrd, Jr.Bobby was born in Austin, Texas to Robert H. Byrd, Sr. and Scherer Byrd on December 29, 1955.

Bobby, and his brothers Tommy and Billy, began their fishing experiences on their grandfather’s boats, along-side their storied father Bob, Sr. (already in the Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame) in the 1960’s. The Byrd family fished out of Bridge Harbor Marina in Surfside. Marlin fishing soon brought the Byrd family together with the Brights, another storied Texas fishing family, including Joe Bright and his sons Randy (already in the Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame) and Jody. In the 1970s, Bobby’s home port became Port O’Connor, Texas and fishing became his way of life. Bobby and his brothers were onboard The Cajun Playboy in 1992 when Bob Sr caught his last Marlin.

Tim and Tom Hazelwood purchased the tournament winning boat “The Cajun Playboy” after Bob, Sr’s death. Bobby joined their team as did John Echols and Jim Glandt. That group continued to fish together for a number of years with great success. Eventually John Echols decided to purchase a bigger boat for the team. The new 60 ft. Hatteras, named the “Boogieman” and the team continued their winning ways!

In 1995, Bobby left a successful career as a realtor in the Clear Lake area and he along with his wife, Janice, opened Tops-N-Towers, a custom aluminum Marine Fabrication company, dedicated to first class quality design of custom tops and towers for all boats. Later Bobby and Janice opened “The Coastal Clothing Co.”, which was run by Bobby’s wife, Janice and his daughter, Deana Watson.

Bobby teamed up with Captain John Cochrane (who joined the Texas Saltwater Hall of Fame in 2023) to offer saltwater fishing seminars to assist new boat owners in the art of marlin fishing. They also founded Byrd & Cochrane yacht brokerage. Not long thereafter, Bobby and Captain John then decided to start the Bob Byrd Memorial tournament, a tournament with an innovative and conservation-minded video release format, which subsequently became widely accepted.

That tournament began in Freeport but was later moved to Port Aransas.  It was among the first tournaments that allowed teams to depart from other Texas ports and weigh in Port Aransas. Not to sit still Bobby and John decided there should be a Houston Big Game Fishing Club and they along with Randy Bright and Jim Peachy developed and began to promote The Houston Big Game Fishing Club.

On a tournament trip down south with Larry Boska in tow and on the radio, “The Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame” was born and informally announced. Bobby and Capt. John Cochrane laid the groundwork in establishing the Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame and inducted the first few inductees at that year’s Bob Byrd Memorial and later at The Texas Legends Billfish Tournament. The Texas Saltwater Fishing Hall of Fame was later acquired by the Houston Big Game Fishing Club, its current owner.  In 2006, the name of the Bob Byrd Memorial Tournament was changed to the Texas Legends Billfish Tournament and moved to Port Aransas. Bobby retired in 2009, sold the business after 16 years and moved to Central Texas. A few years later Bobby sold the Texas Legends Billfish Classic tournament to Capt. John Cochrane.

During his fishing career, that spanned over 40 years, Bobby fished many tournaments, including Poco Bueno, August Billfish Classic, Watermelon Open, TIFT, Dean Hawn Memorial, Bob Byrd Memorial, Texas Legends Billfish Classic, Port Aransas Deep Sea Roundup, Port Mansfield Tournament as well as many others. Bobby was known for his love and passion for live baiting, when the conditions were right. He was also known for his sense of humor and flashy boat attire and always enjoyed a good laugh even if it was at his expense.

One of Bobby’s fondest memories is that he was part of the teams that won first place at Poco Bueno three times and placed many other times.