Hooked on fishing
Then one day, he and some friends hired the late Port Aransan Keith Searcy as a guide. Instead, somebody named Bill Horn substituted, and Harris – who’s better known around Port Aransas as “Bud” – said he came back with limits of speckled trout, redfish and flounder.
“We said, ‘If it’s that way all the time, we’re coming here’,” Harris reported.
He was hooked on even more than the fish. He and the late Bill Horn became close friends from then on until Horn’s death in 2001.
It was Horn who got Harris interested in Port Aransas Boatmen Inc., and Harris’s dedication to that organization was largely responsible for his putting together the well-known Boatmen’s endowed scholarship fund for Port Aransas High School seniors. That was seven or eight years ago, Harris said.
“My experience with Port Aransas Boatmen Inc. over the years is that I’ve never met a group as generous and giving. I’d use the word philanthropic,” he said.
“With their time and their money for scholarships, they’re always willing to step up.”
Harris’s association with the Boatmen started when he lived in Austin and made trips to Port Aransas to fish.
“We used to come to Port Aransas with friends and fish once a month,” he recalled. “Then it became every weekend. One thing led to another, and we bought a little fishing house and finally moved to Port Aransas.”
Harris, who now lives in Corpus Christi, is executive dean of business/intergovernmental affairs at Del Mar College. He said he doesn’t get to go fishing as much as he’d like to, and hasn’t since Horn died.
“ Trout and redfish were my first priorities,” he remembered. “When I had the boat, we’d move up toward Rockport and Mud Island for those fish.”
That first trip with Horn, however, remains his most memorable fishing trip. From that grew a friendship and fishing companionship that lasted for years.
However, “There have been lots of good trips,” he said. “One of the joys of fishing is simply getting out on the water.”
His worst trip? That was also “out on the water,” in a way.
“We ended up buying a boat, and like a true amateur, I bought the wrong boat,” Harris laughed. “I followed (well-known angler) Ronnie Jackson back into a hole, and the next thing you know – talk about being high and dry. Thank goodness, it wasn’t more than six hours until the tide came back in and I could get the boat off.” He also recalled once when he had elected to fish offshore and a storm blew in.
“I was just glad to see the inside of the jetties,” he said. “That was a lesson learned, as well.”
Harris has learned some other lessons he’s willing to pass on to less-experienced anglers.
For one thing, make sure you have the right tackle for the kind of fishing you’re doing, he advised.
If you don’t have a boat, Harris recommended the north jetty.
And no matter where you go, if other anglers are nearby, pay attention to what they’re doing.