A Fisherman's Dream on Washington & Third
- photos and story by Ellis Anderson
Missy and Mindy are serious anglers. On weekend afternoons, the twin sisters often head out to the new Jimmy Ruthorford pier, sometimes staying until midnight. They’re about to purchase some plastic white shrimp lures. The name on the package implies that fish will become zombies at the sight of the ghost-like rubbery baits, snapping them up within seconds of hitting the water.
“Nope,” says Billy Ray Sanders, walking over. “The whites aren’t doing well right now. The fish just aren’t biting them. What’s catching fish right now are the pinks and chartreuse.”
The girls are grateful for the advice and end up choosing some pinks. They pick out several other items, they probably don’t immediately need because they’re thrilled to have a real tackle shop in the neighborhood. Also, it’s the first day of business for the store and they want Billy Ray to know they’ll be loyal customers.
Beach to Bayou
Inside, walls and shelves are lined with lures, nets, hooks and lines. Dozens of rods stand in racks, while reels glint alluringly from glass cases. While Sanders carries some items found in big box stores, he stocks specialty tackle, rods and reels that can’t be found elsewhere locally. Okuma and Shimano and Penn are a few of the brands that he carries. Sanders will also stock someone’s favorite lure. All they have to do is ask.
Flounder lights are made in the store. They’re durable LED lights encased in an aluminum water-safe housing.
“All our lights are repairable,” Sanders says. “If they have a problem, they can come back to me and not have to ship them off.”
But probably one of the main draws for local anglers will be Billy Ray’s advice.
He’s been a serious fisherman since he moved over to Hancock County from New Orleans in 1981.
When asked how he became a go-to guy for fishing information, he points to forty years experience.
“I fish, that’s the authority,” he says, smiling. “I fish all week. If I can’t sleep at night, I walk down to the pier and fish. If I wake up too early, I get up and go down to the pier and fish. I’m in my boat too, at least once a week.”
“I tell people, advice is free. Don’t think you need to buy something to come in here to ask me a question. That’s not how it works. You can ask me anything, whether you’re an experienced fisherman and have questions about local fishing or if you’re trying to learn how to fish for the first time. “
And fisherfolk have plenty of opportunities to stop in and ask: the Tackle Shop is open every day but Sunday, from 7am – 6pm. The shop phone is 228.220.7114