About our Fishing Community

Everett Johnson
The longer I'm involved with the Texas saltwater fishing community the more proud I become to be part of it. No industry I've ever worked in made me feel this way. Fishermen are special, and the way they band together for a cause is just incredible.

No better example could be cited than what took place on March 30 2008 at Blanco's Bar and Grill on West Alabama in Houston. Our dear friend, Capt. Chris Phillips, was the reason we all went. Chris-a-Palooza, as it was billed, was organized by friends, family, tackle dealers, fishing guides, radio personalities, outdoor writers, and local fishing industry leaders. The names of the attendees would make a reasonable Who's Who list, especially within the realm of Texas fly-fishing.

Capt. Chris was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few months ago and the early prognosis was very disheartening. The first report said that even if surgery could be performed, Chris would likely suffer great motor skill impairment and probably never speak again. Further testing and scans revealed a narrow window of opportunity and the specialists at UTMB in Galveston upped Chris' chances, but not by much. Surgical removal, they said, was the only chance. Chris was given a decent chance to survive; whether he'd walk, talk, or enjoy any real quality of life after the operation would be seen later.

Chris had his surgery as soon as it could be arranged and the outcome was nearly miraculous. All but a tiny bit of the tumor was successfully removed and the remainder is believed treatable. Even if the treatments work only half as well as the surgery, due the very slow development of this type of tumor, Chris' doctors think it could take nearly a lifetime to re-grow large enough to duplicate the symptoms he'd already lived through.

That Chris was awake and coherent following surgery was an answer to the prayers of thousands. When Chris recognized Ruben Garza and spoke to him as his gurney was being wheeled down the hallway was nothing short of a miracle for all who know and love him. Seeing Chris stride across Blanco's parking lot; speaking, hugging and handshaking as the crowd poured in produced great emotion.

The food, live music and general merriment inside and outside Blanco's made the event more special. Capt. Chris has been around a while and made lots of friends. Chris was a pioneer in saltwater fly-fishing, remarkably spending most of his time in the unlikely venue of Galveston Bay, waters not often considered fly-worthy, but that's where he did it. Through his guide work, tackle sales career, seminars and other public appearances, Chris touched untold thousands and we were there to repay his good spirit, kindly demeanor, and impeccable character.

Lots of folks dug deep to support the auction and raffles. Scott Sommerlatte sold his hair. Seated on the stage, Scott taunted the audience to ante up if they wanted to see his flowing locks shaved to the scalp. When the bidding stalled he threw his signature facial hair into the deal, they could have his beard too but it wouldn't come cheap. It made me think of the haircut Delilah gave Sampson and we're still not sure whether Scott will ever be the same. The photo session that followed with Capt. Chris hugging his hairless friend was a sight to behold.

Capt. Chris is still not out of the woods, but I'm certain that his friends in the fishing community will continue their generous support. Here's to you Captain, you are an outstanding example of why I am proud to a Texas fisherman.