TSFMag Highlight: Roy’s Bait and Tackle Outfitters

Everett Johnson
TSFMag Highlight: Roy’s Bait and Tackle Outfitters
Mike, Michelle, Roy and Rocky welcome you to their recently expanded shop on SPID.

Roy Guerra says he never planned to get into the tackle business. Returning from a family vacation and finding his job shut down, he turned to his rod wrapping hobby to provide short term income while he searched for another opportunity. "I had been building my own rods for a while and friends often asked if I would wrap one for them. That's really how it started."

The job search dragged on. Seeing to the needs of his family, along with his rod wrapping, Roy took to cast netting mullet for local bait camps. And started pouring fishing weights. Hardly the income he had enjoyed in the meat department of a large Corpus Christi grocery.

"I was working on my wife's stove when I learned that it's very bad when a few drops of water fall into melted lead. It explodes! I thought my wife was going to kill me. She didn't like me wrapping rods on her antique table either," Roy quipped.

Walk into Roy's Bait and Tackle Outfitters today and it is impossible to imagine the trials and tribulations over thirty-plus years in business the Guerra family have endured to build this enterprise. During a recent visit, patriarch Roy (now mostly retired) and son Juan, who everybody knows as Rocky (nicknamed by his mother for his stout physique, even as a toddler), related tales of barely hanging on through lean times and investing cautiously every chance they could.

"Back in the early days we ran the shop in our home, from 1975 until we moved out here in 1985," Roy told me. "We didn't sell tackle like we do today. We sold bait and some terminal tackle leaders, hooks and weights. When we moved out here on SPID, our old building had only 1100 square feet, and part of that was warehouse."

Rocky said after they moved to SPID they kept the store open 20 hours a day, even holidays. "I practically lived in the store, but if fishermen needed bait they knew where to get it. We decided to close for Thanksgiving 1989 and the store caught fire. How's that for luck?"

My first visit to Roy's Bait and Tackle was a few years after Jim Wallace caught the state record trout in Baffin Bay. The group I fished with were crazy about Baffin and the Landcut and invited me along on one of their three-day trips. This was before big-box retailers and way before online shopping. Stores that carried quality tackle, the kind serious anglers need, were few and far between. "Roy's has everything," they told me.

Fast forward to more recent times. Rocky's sister Michelle joined the team to help manage the thriving business. Then came Mike Shappy. Mike was originally with Shimano in California and then joined a tackle sales firm calling on Roy's. Long story short, Mike met Michelle and is now very much part of the Guerra family and the Roy's Bait and Tackle team.

It didn't take long in what they called their "new" store built in the late-90s and Roy's was busting at the seams, again. An aggressive expansion plan was undertaken. Construction began in 2014 to more than double retail space, along with a separate 6000 square foot warehouse. The Roy's team faced myriad problems between keeping their store operating while under construction and exceptionally wet weather that greatly complicated and delayed the project. It wasn't easy but the Roy's team has always managed to overcome adversity.

Like my buddies told me nearly 20 years ago, in their recently-expanded facility, Roy's really does have everything. Rocky sees to the majority of the tackle side while Mike and Michelle marshal the progress of the new fly shop, kayaking and clothing departments.

The kayak side is growing leaps and bounds and Mike and his team are doing a splendid job of custom rigging paddle boats to buyer's specifications. For beginners, they also offer kayak demos and paddling lessons to assist buyers in selecting the model that best suits their needs.

The clothing section is like a Macy's for fishermen. Michelle has brought in all the best lines. Anglers can find a great selection of everything from waders to everyday fishing attire, along with smartly styled fishing-casual for both men and women.

Roy's fly shop is booming too, riding the crest of saltwater fly fishing's popularity that nobody could have predicted even a few years ago. The in-store stock includes top-of-the-line rods and reels and all the accessories coastal fly anglers need. They also provide fly casting instruction and tying classes for all levels of anglers.

If you haven't been to Roy's Bait and Tackle Outfitters recently, you should plan to pay them a visit. I believe you will be impressed.