Fishing has long been a tradition on Pine Island. In days gone by, the island was primarily inhabited by commercial fishermen and their families and many of their decedents still carry on the family legacy.
The waters around the island are now a magnet for recreational fisherfolks as well, many of whom are unfamiliar with the unique species dwelling here and the techniques required to catch them. Answering that need is a new bait and tackle shop at the four-way-stop at the island center. Center Bait and Tackle is owned and staffed by native Pine Islanders who know what it takes to fish the waters of Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor and San Carlos Bay.
“I have lived on Pine Island all my life and understand the fishing and fishermen here, and I have always thought that the best place for a bait shop would be at the center. It is a perfect location for those heading to St. James or Bokeelia for a day on the water,” said owner Beth Brennan. “We want to make sure that not only are we convenient, but affordable as well. I purchase all of my bait from local fishermen and this helps to keep the prices down.”
According to Brennan, she purchases the bulk of her bait from her brother, a Pine Island commercial fisherman and it is delivered to her fresh by her mother each day.
“Our motto for the shop is hometown bait at hometown prices and we do everything we can to keep it that way,” said Brennan. “As for gear, here too, we are keeping things simple and inexpensive while at the same time, providing anglers with essential needs.”
Assisting Brennan is full-time employee, Travis Downes.
“Since Travis is a veteran of the war in Iraq, we also offer discounts for veterans who come to the shop,” said Brennan.
Anglers will find live shrimp, crabs, white bait, greenbacks and pinfish. Center Bait also offers frozen baits including squid, herring, finger mullet, shrimp in several sizes, mackerel and ladyfish as well as frozen and dry chum.
In addition, Center Bait offers a variety of terminal tackle, lures, bait bucket, fillet knives, sandspikes, mono and braided fishing lines and rods and reels.
“Even though our shop is small, we have tried to cover all the bases and if you don’t see what you need here, we will be happy to order it for you,” Brennan said.
Brennan’s shop also offers other services including information about the daily tides, weather conditions and what is biting.
“We have contacts with 12 charter captains who provided the latest information about what’s biting and what they are biting on and are happy to pass that information on to our customers,” Brennan said. “At this time, most of the fishermen out there are finding lots of redfish and recently the tarpon have been moving in so, as things change we change and make sure to have the appropriate baits and equipment on hand to target the species fishermen are after at any particular time.”
Center Bait and Tackle is at the rear of the Canal Real Estate building and is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call Center Bait and Tackle at 558-8085.
Center Bait and Tackle offers anglers a wide variety of bait options as well as equipment at a convenient location at the island center.