Family business supports Ortega’s fishing

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Andy Ortega inspects the pressure safety valve on an oil pipeline.

Editor's Note: In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we're shining a spotlight on inspiring anglers like Andy Ortega.

Andres Ortega launched his family-owned Lobo Valve Services four years ago in the petroleum-rich swath of West Texas known as the Permian Basin. Why the 30-year oil field tradesman started his business has little to do with gaining financial wealth, and much to do with a dream inspired by his only son, Andy, who fishes the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens.

“Andy is the one who motivated me,” said the soft-spoken father. “I saw the passion he had for bass fishing, and knew the only way he could succeed was to start our own business.”

Risking his family’s financial security and quality of life was not an option. The Ortega’s are firmly rooted in their commitment to instilling strong family values through honest, hard work.

As a youngster Andy was introduced to tournament bass fishing watching TV episodes of The Bassmasters. He was mesmerized watching the pros catch a fish unknown to him, watching the excitement and drama of the competition unfold, and the anglers hoisting the winner’s trophy.

Andy begged his parents to take him fishing. That was a tall order in Odessa, Texas, where the nearest known bass fishery is 250 miles away at Lake Amistad. Using a Batman rod-and-reel combo Andy caught a catfish from a local pond. He was hooked and seriously wanted to catch a largemouth bass. That would come soon, at state record proportions.

Lucy Ortega discovered the Bassmaster CastingKids program and it’s connection with the San Angelo Bass Club. She entered her son in the 7-10 age group of the national flip, pitch and cast competition.

What was lost in fishing time was gained with the mechanics of skillfully aiming baits at the bull’s-eye of a casting target. Andy, age 9, took third place at the 2009 B.A.S.S. Federation National Championship.

Andy joined the junior club and finally caught his first largemouth. Tears of joy streamed down his face after landing the prized catch. Yet distance to fishable water continued to be a handicap. Ortega made the most of every trip.