Jackson always ready with a smile
Jackson is one of two people who have been named to the Boatmen’s Hall of Fame this year. Also named is Sam Roberts.
Jackson, a member of the Boatmen’s board of directors, said he’s proud to have made the Hall of Fame.
“I feel very honored,” he said. “I’m a foreigner. … I’m not an island boy. I’m adopted.”
The Boatmen always have been able to rely on Jackson, said Georgia Neblett, an honorary Boatmen member and Hall of Fame member herself.
“If the Boatmen were looking to count on someone to do what they say they’re going to do, when they say they’re going to do it, there’s no better person than Ronnie Jackson,” Neblett said.
“His participation in putting on the Deep Sea Roundup is always with a smile on his face, a great sense of humor and tireless work.”
Jackson, 66, was born and raised in San Antonio. Involved in the print business all his adult life, he does sales for Texas Type, a graphic art supply company in San Antonio.
Jackson has been visiting Port Aransas steadily since his parents first brought him down here at about the age of 8. For the past 25 years, he has been visiting just about every week. He has owned a house in Rockport since 1975.
He remembers Horace Caldwell Pier well when it was a wooden structure with two T-heads.
“I used to dive off that thing and swim in,” he said, recalling the era of the 1950s and early ‘60s. “One time, I saw two guys hanging up two seven-foot hammerheads they caught off the pier. That was the last time I dove off that pier.”
For years, Mud Island has been Jackson’s favorite fishing spot around here.
“I just like the structure on the west end, the bottom, the pot holes, the heavy grasses,” Jackson said. “I started fishing that thing out of the old Woody’s (Sports Center), about 1959. I had just gotten my driver’s license, and my best friend and I would come down here and rent a skiff at the Woody’s, back when it didn’t even have a bulkhead. It was just a mud flat. We would chug up there (to Mud Island), and we thought we were at the end of the world.”
Another one of his fishing buddies was the late Bill Horn, of Port Aransas, a fellow Boatman Hall of Famer.
“Bill was one of my closest friends,” Jackson said. “I’d say he was the king of the north jetty. He was just really good there. … And he had great stories. He was a fisherman’s man. I wish I had fished with him more. He was a hell of a man.”
Jackson has been a member of the Boatmen for more than 25 years. Getting into the group happened in an unexpected way. It happened one day when he was sitting with friend and legendary Port Aransas fisherman Lloyd Dreyer behind Woody’s Sports Center.
“Lloyd said, ‘Well, it’s time to go to the meeting,’ ” Jackson recalled. “I said, ‘I’m not a member.’ He said, ‘You will be. You fish around here all the damn time. You need to be in there.’ ”
Dreyer took Jackson to the meeting, and he was voted in. It was a proud moment for Jackson.
“Still is,” he said.
Jackson said he’s especially proud to have been made a member because he never has worked as a guide and also never has been much of an offshore fisherman. He’s always been more of a bay angler around here. (He actually likes offshore fishing, he said, but it’s cost prohibitive.)
Fresh water fishing holds no appeal for him.
“Fresh water is for two things: Taking a shower and mixing with scotch. Other than that, I really don’t have a whole lot of use for it,” Jackson said, adding that he actually doesn’t drink scotch anymore.
Jackson has fished tournaments for many years out of Port Aransas, Corpus Christi, South Padre Island and Port O’Connor. Among his most memorable wins was his first tournament victory, when he hooked the biggest flounder of the contest. He also has won in trout divisions two or three times.
Jackson earned about $5,000 in tournament winnings over the course of a single season one year in the 1980s. He also has fished many times in waters far beyond Port Aransas. He and his wife, Jane, have traveled to Baja for fishing trips 11 straight years now.
Of course, Jackson has fished in the Deep Sea Roundup many times, too, taking first place in a number of different divisions over the years.
“He’s always fished the bay surf division, and his sense of competitiveness always shows at the weigh station,” Neblett said.
Jackson’s work for the Boatmen organization has included helping out at fish fries, organizing fish pots and handling printing for the Deep Sea Roundup.
“I just believe in what they do for the community – the scholarships, the reading programs, the boat parades, everything,” he said. “Just about any organization that comes to us and asks for help for a worthy cause, we provide it.”