Most of all visit the big box stores. You know the ones, Bass Pro Shops, Academy Sports, Dick’s Sporting Goods, just to name a few. Yes some of them carry most major brands, but what about personal service? To get local info that you can trust as well as personal service it is the small and almost extinct tackle shops where you should spend your hard earned dollars. The small shops would love to share some local info for the exchange of some of those bucks. Yes it is much harder to compete with the Big Box Stores who buy at prices cheaper than the little guys. Most small shops tell us that those big guys can sell their products with a small margin cheaper than we can even buy them from their distributors. Personal service is where the small shops shine! We visit these shops each and every month to drop our monthly new issue and to get updated on how the local bite is going. In most cases the owners are always there to greet us!
They all need new clients and repeat business, what you will get is honest local info, a decent price for what you are buying and most times the convenience of not having to deal with parking, traffic, other shoppers and most times the small stores will have what you are looking for in stock. Oh, did I mention most open several hours prior to those Big-Box stores and are close to where you will be fishing.
Several of these small shops still exist. Some you drive right bye and don’t even know they are there. Several of these shops within our 4 county foot-print are very close to some of Florida’s best fishing hot spots. All within an hour or less of where you live and most very close to where fish are biting. Bitter’s Bait & Tackle in Longwood, 1 block north of SR 434 on US 17/92 is packed with Tackle. Bitter’s friendly staff is always willing to help you find you’re looking for and share local fishing info. Bitter’s own brand of soft- plastics are better than most name brands and are half of the cost saving you lots of bucks. Down to the south in St. Cloud is WoJo’s Bait & Tackle at the corner of SR 192 & Kissimmee Park Rd. This small store is loaded with inventory as well as lots of saltwater tackle and frozen baits, lots of live bait for freshwater fishing. Just to the west at down town Kissimmee Lake Front Park is Big Toho Marina, with new owner they server the best breakfast sandwiches & burgers in the area, with lots of live bait and large freshwater inventory and right next to the launch ramp. To the north in Lake County is Owens Fishing and Marine located in Eustis on SR19, they have lots of inventory of the hard to find tackle and baits. In Tavares on the east side of US 441 is Lakeside Bait and Tackle. You have passed this for years on your way to the Harris Chain and Buzzard Beach launch ramp. Stop and visit with the owners Mark or Heidi Bass for the latest info on what is biting on the Chain. Back to the east in Debary and right on the St. John’s River is Highbanks Resort & Marina, boat rentals, live bait, gas, cold beer and freshwater inventory. A must stop in the fall and winter months as this area is one of Florida’s best crappie catching areas!
Do yourself and the small shop owners a favor, stop buy and spend a few bucks at one of these shops. Tell them you read about them in the Orlando Coastal Angler Magazine local section.