Bass master finds bliss on lake
By CAREY FREEMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2001
CRYSTAL RIVER -- They say God works in mysterious ways, and Bud Andrews is the last person you'll find arguing the point these days.
The former owner and operator of Big Cypress Lodge in Inverness, Andrews seems to have found the perfect home and working environment at the Lake Rousseau RV Park and Fishing Resort.
A renowned fisherman whose specialty is largemouth bass, Andrews said he lost nearly $500,000 in his failed venture on Lake Tsala Apopka in Inverness. Yet, just when things appeared to be at their worst, a special opportunity came calling.
"All of a sudden, the general manager (of Lake Rousseau RV Park and Fishing Resort) calls and says the owner (Peter Bowers) would like to talk to me," Andrews said. "He asked for some advice on what to do with the place and I told him what I thought needed to be done to make it a beautiful camp.
"As fast as I talk, that's as fast as (Bowers) moves," Andrews said. "One day he called me and wanted to know if I'd be interested in having my own school and whether I'd be interested in being on the staff."
Andrews accepted, and the rest is history. Situated on the south shore of Lake Rousseau, the campground is a bass-fishing paradise. It features 122 full hookup sites for recreational vehicles in addition to five rental cottages and many other perks, including private docks, a swimming pool, two recreation halls, a private boat ramp and a tackle shop that stocks only merchandise approved by Andrews and his staff.
In addition, the camp offers guided trips and a number of courses taught by Andrews, who is a former World Champion Bass fisherman and a member of the Freshwater Hall of Fame.
"I control the whole guide service," Andrews said. "I have eight pro guides working for me now and we'll have four more once they get licensed. We're going to cover every angle and offer gun safety and hunting courses, too. I also just hired a professional saltwater guide, so we'll be able to play both sides of fence."
Andrews, who has caught more than 300 bass over 10 pounds using artificial bait, offers five- and eight-hour guided trips on Lake Rousseau, long known as one of Florida's most productive bass fishing lakes. The cost for the five-hour trip (for two anglers) is $275. The eight-hour trip is $400.
For those who are not experienced anglers, Andrews offers a number of classes. Andrews recommends that beginning or inexperienced anglers start with the courses before working their way up to the guided trips.
"I think the most important thing a lot of pros overlook is when you get inexperienced fishermen, it's very easy to lose their concentration if you overdo it," Andrews said. "We also like to keep the class sizes small. We suggest that those with no experience start off with the two-day class and then we'll move to three days for guys who at least know how to cast a rod. Then, if you want to step it up a notch, you can move from the three- to the five-day class, where we teach advanced techniques."
If Andrews sounds like a man who has found his niche, he should. After spending years fishing in the Tsala Apopka chain and on the Withlacoochee River and watching those bodies of water slowly dry up, the time for a move downriver never seemed better.
"To be honest, I'm not sure we'll ever have the water come back to its best level, like it was when I bought (Cypress Lodge) back in '70s. I believe man has made too many detours along the way," he said. "The beauty of Lake Rousseau is that it has two rivers as its source, the Withlacoochee and the Rainbow, which is still an active spring that is pumping millions of gallons a day. That's why Lake Rousseau is clear right now."
If you go
The Lake Rousseau RV Park and Fishing Resort is on Northcut Avenue off County Road 488 in northwest Citrus. For information or to make reservations, call (352) 795-6336. E-mail at email@example.com or visit the Web site at www.lakerousseaurvpark.com.
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