January/February 2002

Reel Deals

If you’re hooked on the islands, you know the local waters are home to more than just beautiful seashells—highly prized fish, for instance, to keep and cook or to catch and release. Many discount department stores and chain stores throughout Lee County carry fishing supplies, but if you want specialized service or rental gear, check with the following establishments. They sell and/or rent all kinds of fishing gear, sell bait, and they have up-to-date information on regulations, too.
    The Bait Box, a granddaddy of tackle shops and fishing outfitters for Sanibel and Captiva, is proud to offer more than 50 years of local experience. Fishing fans will find spinning, casting, fly, and heavy saltwater fishing gear to buy or rent at owner Ralph Woodring’s well-known shop. And you’re sure to receive expert instruction and advice when choosing from the large selection of rods, reels, line, lures, and terminal tackle. The Bait Box, 1041 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, 941/472-1618.
    When it comes to purchasing fishing gear, the Ship Store at Sanibel Marina “has got everything you need,” according to employee Walt Costello. He notes that tackle shop customers include area residents and tourists who are men and women of all ages—“we get everybody here.” Fishing equipment is not available for rent, however. Ship Store at Sanibel Marina, 634 North Yachtsman Drive, Sanibel, 941/472-2723.
    Bailey’s True Value Hardware Store is now in its “second century of serving Sanibel and Captiva.” So it’s no surprise that many of the store’s top-selling items are fishing supplies. Joe Harwell, who handles the well-stocked department, loves the sport and he’ll be happy to help you locate just what you want. Bailey’s True Value Hardware Store, Bailey’s Shopping Center, corner of Periwinkle Way and Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel, 941/472-1516;
    The Castaways Resort and Marina at Blind Pass is a favorite place to stay for many fishermen and women and it has been for several decades. The marina store sells lures, bait, and rods. Call ahead during the 2002 season to see if the store has fishing equipment for rent. The Castaways Resort and Marina at Blind Pass, 6460 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel, 941/472-1252, 941/472-1112, or 800/375-0152.
    On Captiva, ’Tween Waters Inn & Marina does a brisk business selling rods, tackle, and frozen bait, according to marina manager Frank Scerbo. “Years ago, we used to rent out a lot of fishing stuff but now just sell it,” Scerbo explains. “We sell loads of rods at the last
minute because so many families come to ’Tweenies with their kids and they aren’t really prepared to go fishing. The parents buy rods and other stuff for the kids,
and they can then take the equipment home.” ’Tween Waters Inn & Marina, Captiva Road, Captiva, 941/472-5161 or 800/223-5865;
    Dave Jensen, of Jensen’s Twin Palms Resort & Marina on Captiva, explains that his marina store sells and rents “all kinds of spinning-rod equipment.” Renters outnumber buyers, he says, since many of the marina’s customers are fishermen and women who have their own gear. And don’t worry, Jensen adds, laughing, “Even when the resort is full, we try not to run out of the rental stuff!” Jensen’s Twin Palms Resort & Marina, 15107 Captiva Drive, Captiva, 941/472-5800;
    At the end of Captiva, the folks at Bayside Marina at South Seas Plantation Resort sell and rent fishing gear, and sell bait. “Most people rent their stuff rather than buy,” reports employee Frank Messina, “because they are here only a few days.” Bayside Marina at South Seas Plantation Resort, Captiva, 941/472-7611 or 941/472-5111.
    Just over the causeway, across from the public boat ramp at Punta Rassa, you’ll find The Sugar Shack. Owner Davis Stephens sells and rents a “pretty wide variety” of gear, including Penn reels, a full line of terminal tackle, and tackle boxes. “We rent fishing equipment, we give fishing advice,” is the shop’s motto. “Since we are in a touristy area,” Stephens explains, “a lot of times people want to rent real good equipment instead of buy it.” The Sugar Shack, 17501 Harbor Point Drive, Ft. Myers, 941/489-0999.
    A few blocks down on McGregor Boulevard, where it intersects with John Morris Road, The Bait House sits next to Oakes Brothers Fruit Market. Besides having plenty of bait and bait buckets, Denny Daniels’s shop offers fishing equipment such as hooks and sinkers. The Bait House, 16758 McGregor Blvd., Ft. Myers, 941/466-4444.
    On Summerlin Road, in Sunset Plaza between San Carlos Boulevard and Health Park, customers will find all kinds of gear for sale at Lee Island Outfitters. The store is an Orvis-endorsed outfitter, owned by Mike McComas. He’s glad to assist you, whether you’re just a beginner or a world-class angler. Lee Island Outfitters, 17699 Summerlin Road, Ft. Myers, 941/437-5488.
    Next to the firehouse on San Carlos Boulevard is Bait ’N’ Wait, “located
minutes from both Ft. Myers Beach and Sanibel.” The store has “the right stuff for either live or artificial fishing,” including Tica tackle and Alvey rods and reels. Gear is offered for sale or rent. In-house reel repair is available, as are custom rod building and repair by “the rod surgeon.” Bait ’N’ Wait, 17885 San Carlos Blvd., Ft. Myers Beach, 941/466-8737;
    Near the Caloosahatchee River in North Ft. Myers is well-known Lehr’s Economy Tackle Shop. The store’s owner, Dave Westra, stocks just about every type of fishing gear imaginable. In addition, Lehr’s is one of the area’s premier fly-fishing shops. Brands include Cortland, Sage, G. Loomis, and Scientific Angler. Lehr's Economy Tackle Shop, 1366 Tamiami Trail, North Ft. Myers, 941/995-2280. –Libby Grimm