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Frock notes 20th year as shop owner

June 24, 2015
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Jim Frock, owner of Seven Seas Bait and Tackle in Matlacha, is celebrating his 20th anniversary as owner of the business.

"I became owner of Seven Seas on June 26, 1995," Frock said. "And moved here the day before from Piqua, Ohio."

Frock found Pine Island with the help of his former in-laws.

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Jim Frock

"They had a place on Manatee Bay," Frock said. "I started coming here in the late 1980s and my former mother-in-law was a real estate agent. Some time around 1992, Dobby's Bait Shop had just sold and I said to my mother-in-law, 'If we had known a bait shop was for sale we should have bought it.'

"My grandfather had owned a bait shop in Piqua and I had worked there from as early as I can remember," Frock said. "My first job was when I was about 6 or 7 years old and I was picking up night crawlers for my grandfather."

By the time Frock was a teenager, he went to the local rivers and streams with a seine net to catch crawdads.

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"They were worth quite a bit more and I made some money," Frock said. "We kept them in large aluminum tanks until they shed and we had soft crawdads. I think we got $1.25 per dozen. That's how I got started in the bait business. After my grandparents passed away I spent about 15 years in construction."

Frock missed out on purchasing Dobby's Bait Shop in 1992 but thought owning a bait shop would be a perfect livelihood and when Seven Seas became available he bought it.

Frock says the building Seven Seas is in is the oldest bait shop on Matlacha.

"I bought this place from the Philbin family," Frock said. "But this was a bait shop from at least as early as 1962. It was Holliday Bait House from 1962-1968. Then it was Luten's Bait and Tackle from 1968-1975; Scurvey Dog Bait and Tackle from 1975-1977; the Chatham family owned it from 1977-1979. The Philbin's owned it from 1979 until I bought it in 1995."

He soon found out there's a world of difference between bait shops and fishing in Florida and Ohio.

"When I moved here I was convinced I knew everything there was to know about bait and fishing," Frock said. "Well, it didn't take long to learn I didn't know very much about saltwater fishing. I knew my products and rigging but catching fish was something entirely different.

"Fortunately, back then it seemed much easier to catch fish," Frock said. "There has been a big change with the water coming out of this canal system had done a lot of damage to Buzzard Bay and this whole side of the estuary.

Things have changed drastically over the years for Frock.

"There have been a number of setbacks in the 20 years I've been here," Frock continued. "I was divorced in 1999, went through the hurricane in 2004, recession in 2008, the freeze in 2010, the oil spill and then the construction of the bridge. The building of the bridge set me back big time. That effected my business for three years. That came close to putting me out of business.

"This year looks to be an improvement over last year and now that the bridge is finally completed the future looks much brighter," Frock said. "I plan on being here for a while at least five years. If I ever do sell, I'd probable sell the business but not the property. I plan on living here permanently this will always be my home."



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