Bill Stroud is a San Antonio based angler and chapter coordinator for Heroes On the Water. Known for creating memorable and healing kayak angling excursions, Bill has brought countless veterans into the sport. With a reflective and humble air, Bill personifies many of the sport’s positive traits, and truly exemplifies the mission of HOW. When not plying the Texas waters in search of the next big catch or lending his time and hands to help heal wounded warriors, Bill can be found serving as a patrolman with the San Antonio Police Department.
What first drew you to this style of angling? When was that?
I’ve never been able to afford a boat, and I remember always thinking as I was fishing from the shore, “If I could just get over there….” We stumbled across www.texaskayakfisherman.com somewhere around 2004, and after lurking awhile, got our first kayaks and headed to Galveston Island State Park.
Do you remember the first fish that you caught from a kayak?
Yes, it was a little bass at Medina Lake. I remember thinking “this is cool.”
You have to your name nearly three years of service with Heroes On the Water. In some regards, this qualifies you as a member of the old guard. What advice would you give to an angler thinking of joining the organization’s pool of volunteers?
Keep in mind that HOW is about the warrior, not about you. You are there to serve the warrior, so you have to be willing to set aside your selfish desires and be willing to cater to the needs of the warrior.
What food and/or music fuels your drive to the put-in?
Usually whatever my wife wants to listen to. I lost control of the radio along time ago. If we don’t fix a quick breakfast before we leave, I’ll stop by Whataburger for something.
Who, specifically, is shaping the future of kayak angling?
Dean Thomas/Slowride Guide Service in Aransas Pass, TX is doing great things. He is always willing to answer questions that people have, and he is active with the Boy Scouts. He takes them on some pretty neat trips. He is helping develop the next generation of kayak anglers. Tom Stubblefield, who owns www.texaskayakfisherman.com, provides a free place where people can go to learn about kayak fishing, and share what they’ve learned. I like how Tom runs a site where my kids can visit; I don’t have to worry about what people are posting.
With regard to kayak angling, what issues are important to you? What, if anything, can be done about them?
Continued access to launch sites. Leave the launch site better than you found it, and support the businesses that offer places for you to launch.
The internet is rife with positive testimonials aimed at both you and the San Antonio chapter of HOW. Numerous veterans attribute a large portion of their healing to the trips that you have organized, and many say that your positive attitude and teaching style were some of the best parts of said outings. Are these traits something derived from angling mentors in your own formative years?
I’ve never considered myself to be much of a teacher. I love fishing and I just want to pass along what I’ve learned so they get as much peace and enjoyment from fishing as I do. My family (Catrina, Addison, and Ty), have been on every HOW trip. Their willingness to accept our vets as family accounts for the positive experience our warriors enjoy. Our chapter is also blessed with wonderful, caring volunteers.
Barring money or logistics, what is your dream kayak angling trip?
I’ve always wanted to take my family to the Florida Keys.
What’s in your milk crate?
Sunscreen, bug spray, tackle and lures for where I’m fishing, first aid kit, bottled water, and my go bag.
Tell us about your best day on the water.
January 7, 2012. We had a HOW trip on the Guadalupe River, and we were fishing for rainbow trout. It was one of those rare days where everybody caught fish.
What is the kayak fishing lifestyle?
Fishing with friends and family, and inviting new people to the kayak fishing addiction.
Tell us a story, any story.
While fishing the Nustar Energy Casting For A Cause tournament in Corpus Christi, a fellow named George called out “Hey Bill, you want a hotdog?” I was thinking to myself “the last thing I want is a cold soggy hotdog that somebody picked up on the way to the launch point and has been bouncing around in a kayak for about 4 hours” so I said “no thanks” and started to paddle off to check on my guys. George said “come get a hotdog, you need to see this!” Out of curiosity, I paddled over to where George and two others were floating. As I got closer, I could see that one of the guys was grilling hotdogs and toasting buns on a portable propane cooker, on his kayak, then handing them to another guy, who put mustard, relish, etc on them. Eating freshly grilled hotdogs while floating in the Laguna Madre was classic.
Texas fishing often means bass fishing, which equates to a pursuing of a species not often thought of as an easy catch. When leading bass-oriented trips, do you ever feel an anxious pressure to get your team of anglers onto what have been termed “Texas lunkers?”
No. The only pressure is to get them on the water. God takes care of the rest of it.
What does the future hold for you?
The saying “Man plans, God laughs” could have been coined for me. I’ll continue to volunteer with Heroes On The Water. I’ll retire in 2-7 years, and, as of right now, we plan to move to Alaska. Ireland is also an option. Wherever we end up, we’ll start a HOW chapter, if Jim lets us.