Bill Fondren owns and operates the Tejas Guide Service on Sam Rayburn Lake. His specialty is crappie, white bass and story telling. Not sure which is the most entertaining.
I first met Bill in March of 2007. The reason for the meeting was by chance or you could say a bonus. We (G3 Boats) were contacted by Bill out of the blue in late 2006 telling us we should have him in a G3 Boat. Now, not knowing him from Adam, I couldn’t just say ok, we had to know a little about him and what he could do for us that warranted such a request.
In short, he told us of his fishing experience and all he could offer in his area. It was a fun story but then he said what if I could get you in the boat with Lonnie Stanley. Really? That got my attention and well, we built his first boat. An 1860 CC and I was off to Sam Rayburn Texas, which may as well could’ve been Cairo Egypt as far as it seemed to be from Lebanon MO!
My first sight of Bill was in the parking lot of the Stump restaurant. The local eating place and watering hole for anglers and the locals in the little community of Brookeland on the southern edge of Sam Rayburn.
I couldn’t miss him. Here stood this large imposing man waving and pointing to me where to park. I wheeled in as instructed and was met with a huge Texas grin and a monster handshake by a hand at least twice the size as mine. “Welcome to Texas” he said. C’mon on in and lets eat. I’ll introduce you to all the guys.
The Stump was packed and without reservation Bill grabbed a lone chair from a table of anglers and said “sit here with us and we’ll educate you”.
The stories filled the room and the laughter spread like fires across a dry prairie as one guy finished his, another quickly began. This was quite a beginning to what has become a lasting and wonderful relationship with Bill Fondren.
The first morning of fishing we were going to the Sabine River near Carthage Texas for white bass about 60 miles north. The same road I came in on the night before.
We wound around on county roads until they turned to gravel then to dirt and finally to mud. At first Aric (our cameraman) and I were not sure what we were getting into.
We finally stopped at a rustic house not far from an old boat ramp that we learned belonged to the game warden. I’d be more inclined to call him the gatekeeper or the troll of that stretch of the river. We knocked on the door and with growl from the game warden he instructed us to purchase our launch pass and specifically said “if you get stuck down there don’t come running to me”. Nice guy.
The boat ramp (if you want to call it that) was quite rough and yes, muddy. I then realized why the game warden mentioned getting stuck but nonetheless we got launched. We were then joined by Lonnie Stanley. “Where in the world are we?” he said and we all set off for the first trip with these two fishing icons.
We didn’t run far down the muddy Sabine and turned into a large creek. No sooner than we got our first casts out a boat came screaming in with what looked like two game wardens. Well guess who? Yep, the gatekeeper himself from whom we just talked to. He checked us for everything. License, throw cushion, boat numbers, you name it he checked. Now why couldn’t he have done this at his house? Who knows. I didn’t ask and he left us with laugh and sped away to his next angler.
The fishing was great. We caught dozens of the biggest white bass and shot two shows that day.
My stomach was sore the next day from laughter and we couldn’t have been treated any better. From that day forward Bill became Uncle Bill to me and to the rest of the fishing world.
We have remained extremely close and we have shot probably a dozen ore more shows with him on crappie and white bass on Sam Rayburn and near by Toledo Bend.
He is one of the most well loved characters we have met and our viewers across the country have traveled great distances to fish with him. It has been my sincere honor to know Uncle Bill and call him and his wife Jan family. He’s truly one of kind.