Fishing lures are alluring, but there are times when live bait is livelier.
Good bait sources can sometimes be a challenge. Big box stores and online tackle purchases make it difficult for bait and tackle shops to keep the lights on throughout the year.
Along with live bait, local dealers also provide anglers with tackle tips for places where the fish are currently biting. But these dealers find it tough to stay in business year round.
The late Art Brisbane at Art’s Bait & Tackle on Route 15 between Avon and Lakeville said just before his passing in September of 2012 that the only times he sees a clear profit are at the start of the ice-fishing season and the spring start-up seasons for panfish and game fish. Art’s shop closed when he died.
During the same week that Art shared this insight, Dan Sharp at Honeoye Bait & Tackle said virtually the same thing about seasonal sales. Sharp had been successfully recouping from cancer surgery until the fall of 2012. His health declined and he closed the shop on County Route 37; that business is now a marine repair shop that does not sell bait and tackle.
On May 10 Dan Sharp lost his year-long battle with cancer. During a memorial gathering on Tuesday evening, his son Michael Sharp recalled his dad’s years at the shop. “He ran that business for 19 years and kept it open as long as he could,” Michael said of the efforts his dad made to supply the right fishing and hunting items.
Dan Sharp had been a reliable source of information for the Wednesday Fishing Line column as soon as he took over the Honeoye Bait & Tackle store.
The loss of Art Brisbane and Dan Sharp has created a void in nearby live-bait sources for the western Finger Lakes area.
Ted Decker, 36, saw that bait-shop void and thought about setting up a business in Lakeville above the north end of Conesus Lake. With two young boys in the house, ages 2½ and 5, Ted wondered if his wife Natasha would be agreeable to a running a bait and tackle business. Natasha was.
“She was most agreeable from the start, saying that I should get into what I liked doing,” Ted said after he first suggested his plan.
“She’s now a major part of the operation and the kids will soon be scooping minnows for customers,” Ted said following the second weekend after Ted’s Tackle held its grand opening on May 3 at 3046 Rochester Road (Route 15) on the north side of Lakeville.
Decker has been an avid angler on area waters from Silver Lake to Canandaigua Lake and north to Lake Ontario; he has contacts throughout the western end of the Finger Lakes. For store hours and gear offerings, check with Decker at (585) 429-0587.
Skip Bianco has lived a lifetime along Chautauqua Lake, mostly involved in the bait business. “I worked for Dave Peterson at the Bait Pond from 1980 till 2000,” he said while setting up anglers with bait for crappie fishing in April.
Bianco has served as manager of the Hogan’s Hut bait and tackle store since 2004 and shares information on the lake’s fishing seasons and cycles with forthright honesty and accuracy.
This past winter the Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle shop at Ashville closed without a new owner in place. It was the only other supplier of live bait along the Chautauqua shore.
“Actually, we were not in competition with Happy Hooker. If they had something I didn’t, I’d send anglers there. If they didn’t have something we had here, they would send them over here,” Bianco said about the hectic business of supplying the right baits and tackle items.
Bianco echoed the sentiments of all local bait and tackle shopkeepers when he said, “Sportsmen and women should support local bait shops to ensure they stay in business to supply the needed items and info at the right times of the fishing seasons.”
For updates and angling approaches on and around Chautauqua Lake, check with Bianco at 789-3831.