The Miracle Catch that Prompted Red Tag Guide Service - The Bend Magazine

The Miracle Catch that Prompted Red Tag Guide Service

Captain Randy Laurrell shares the touching story of how one fishing trip and a promise to his late father prompted Red-Tag Guide Service.

Captain Randy Laurrell catches redfish with Red Tag Guide Service

photo provided by Red Tag Guide Service

Written by: Captain Randy Laurrell

Although I have always been the guy who takes his friends fishing and loves to be on the water, Red Tag Guide Service was not even an idea in my mind five years ago. My wife Amy and I spent most days fishing in the 1980 Alumacraft with a 10 hp motor that my dad’s best friend gifted to us when we moved to Port Aransas, but it still just wasn’t the right time to quit my full-time job and live my dream of starting a guide service.

Raising a daughter who was in college at the time and providing for my family with a stable job with benefits was the best option until my dad got sick. He died from cancer six weeks after being diagnosed and on his last days here on Earth, he made me promise that I would get my captain’s license and follow my dreams. I was too upset after he passed to even fish, let alone get my license, which was totally out of character for me. One day about three months later, Amy said she needed a break from teaching and wanted a fishing day, so I gave in and we went. There was something about being out on the water that made me feel closer to my Dad, as we always used to fish together. That was the moment I realized I was not doing what I promised him.  

catching redfish with Red Tag Guide Service
Photo provided by Red Tag Guide Service

I signed up to get my captain’s license the next day and Amy made sure we had the loan to buy my dream boat so I could work as a full-time guide. I was supposed to pick up my new boat and sign the papers on a Thursday, but I was still working my full-time job and one of my drivers was late coming in, so I couldn’t get to the dealership in time. I figured I would just go the next day, but when we woke up, we had an electrical issue at the house and Amy couldn’t miss school to be home for the repair man. So, I took off at lunch to deal with that and put off getting the boat until the next week.

At this point, I was beyond frustrated, but when I spoke to my step-mom later that day, she said, “When it is time, the right boat will suddenly be here for you, so don’t worry.” Our daughter Lyndy and her boyfriend Wyatt drove into town that Friday to stay with us for the weekend. Wyatt was insistent that we HAD to go fishing as soon as they got here. The repair man showed up, and after a 2-minute fix that cost $120, I wasn’t particularly happy. Wyatt kept insisting we needed to go fishing immediately, but it was already 3 o’clock in the afternoon and really hot. My wife said it would get my mind off being mad about all the other events that had happened that week. I left the house completely mad, forgetting my cap, sunglasses and wallet in the rush.

Wyatt and I put the boat in at Wilson’s Cut where we always fished, made a 10-minute run to one of my favorite spots and on the second cast, I caught a good one. Not just any fish, but a red-tagged redfish. Amy always signed me up to be a member of CCA and paid my STAR tournament dues every year as a gift for my birthday, so when I saw that red tag, I just about lost it. I knew I had just won a truck and a boat. Wyatt netted the fish for me and got the tag removal and live release on video. As I later found out, I was the first person to catch a red-tagged fish that year. Wyatt also thought it was the perfect time to ask a very important question since I was excited and distracted, so he asked my permission to marry Lyndy. Of course, I said yes and they are now happily married.

We finally made it to Woody’s Sports Center to register the fish and the owner Glen was there to help with the paperwork. The funny thing is, Glen was retiring and in all his years owning Woody’s, this was the first and only tag ever registered there (the business is now closed). What an honor for both of us! This began a whirlwind of TV and newspaper interviews and so much excitement. I won a 2021 F150 and a 23-foot Haynie Bigfoot boat and went on to spend the next year as a full-time fishing guide, loving every minute of it.

2023 Majek 25 Illusion at Red Tag Guide Service
Photo provided by Red Tag Guide Service

I decided in April of this year that I needed a new boat, so I sold the Haynie and got my dream boat, a 2023 Majek 25+ Illusion. We named the business Red-Tag Guide Service because of the wonderful blessing of catching that red-tagged redfish. Today, I consider myself very blessed to have had the honor to fulfill my promise to my dad. I am living my dream and doing what I love with the help of my amazing wife who is my bookkeeper, lunch maker, boat washer and all things in between. I also can’t thank my family and friends enough for promoting my business to our community!