Business View Magazine - March 2016

72 Business View Magazine - April 2016 Business View Magazine - April 2016 73 The Sportsman Specializing in shallow draft bay fishing boats for over 60 years The Laguna Madre is a long and narrow backwater separating the mainland of southeast Texas on the Gulf of Mexico, and South Padre Island. It is one of the Lone Star State’s most important and unspoiled lagoon ecosystems whose shallow waters are home to more fish than anywhere else on the Texas coast. Catfish, croaker, drum, southern flounder, alligator gar, houndfish, crevalle jack, southern kingfish, ladyfish, Atlantic midshipman, mojarras, striped mullet, pinfish, Florida pompano, smooth butterfly ray, spotted seat- rout, blacktip shark, sheepshead, bigmouth sleeper, gray snapper, common snook, southern stargazer, southern stingray, and tripletail, can all be found and caught there. “It’s a great fishing ground because it only averages two and half feet of water,” explains Rob Youker, owner of The Sportsman, a shallow water boat dealer in San Benito whose main market is the Laguna Madre Bay system. “It grows great fish, and because the sun can get to the shallow bottom, it can easily grow plants, and plants start the ecosystem which brings on all kinds of stuff.” And naturally, all that “stuff” also brings on the fishermen who want to experience the thrill of catching fish, taking home memories that will last a lifetime. Youker is a third generation proprietor. His grandfa- ther, C.R. ‘’Dutch” Youker, started The Sportsman in 1951. According to his grandson, the founder was “a gruff old guy” who came down from Kansas to fish and hunt, but found no sporting goods store in the area. So he decided to open his own at Monroe and First Street in downtown Harlingen, Texas. “Well that didn’t last long,” says Youker. “He was here a short time before he got frustrated dealing with retail customers and decided to go back to hunting and fishing. He called my mother and father – I was nine months old at the time – and he said, ‘Bob and Betty, you come down to South Texas and I’m going to give you this little store. You don’t need to pay me for it; you just come down and take it over.’ And that’s how we got down here. So, my mother and father built it into three different loca- tions – one in Harlingen, one in McAllen, and then this store that I’m at now in San Benito, Texas.” In 1952, Youker’s dad, R. D. “Bob” Youker, decided to sell boats and Evinrude outboard motors from the San Benito location. A popular model at the time was the AT A GLANCE WHO: The Sportsman WHAT: Distributor of shallow draft bay fishing boats WHERE: San Benito, Texas WEBSITE :