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Fish The Pandemic – Old Salt Fishing Foundation

Author: Tom Verdensky – President, Old Salt Fishing Foundation

I hope this post finds everyone well, in good health and holding steady during these crazy, unprecedented times. Our daily lives, our routines, our livelihoods, our relationships & interpersonal interactions have all been upended by the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic and our nation’s responses to the challenge.  Old Salt has been likewise impacted.

Most of our events involve people getting together. To follow rules/guidelines and to protect our angler’s Old Salt is faced with tough decisions on postponing or cancelling upcoming seminars, meetings and tournaments.  We have already cancelled April/May meetings and re-scheduled the 2020 Spring King of the Beach with no determination, yet, as to whether or not we will be able to put it on this year at all. So we are hanging tough, navigating through these quarantine times.

After 4 weeks of “Safer In Place” rules and guidelines, the State of Florida looks to be moving to initiate a soft re-opening of the state’s economy. The details of this new plan are expected any day now.

Where We Have Been

During the past 4 weeks of “shut in” days Florida anglers were fortunate to have fishing deemed an essential activity by Governor Ron DeSantis.  We have been allowed to fish and the businesses supporting fishing activities have stepped up to meet the need in an uncertain environment. Many of us, this author included, are taking advantage of that to help release the stress by getting out in the sun, on the water, with our families and wetting some lines.

Fuel has been relatively inexpensive, bait plentiful (see below) and with some exceptions access to the water has been, if not unimpeded, at least workable. If you have been out you know what I mean when I say anglers have been thick out on the water like flies on… well you get it:)

Navigating Bait Under Florida Safer At Home Guidelines

So, here are some of the most asked questions we have received, who has live bait? Is there a shortage of frozen bait?  Where can I get bait?

During these COVID-19 days it is not that there is a shortage of bait, it is that with the change of CDC guidelines of operation there is different procedures and supply/demands for getting baits: live or frozen. 

Fishing has been pretty epic throughout the whole state.  We have seen stories ranging from 70 sailfish releases in the keys to 66lb Kingfish in our gulf waters here.  So, yeah lets all join in the fun.   With this the supply of live has been tough to keep on hand for many local bait stores.  So lets review some basics….

Since we have time, get out there and drop breakout bait traps, use sabikis and even dust off the cast net in the garage  (if your looking for a refresher course on your cast net, check out Capt Will Osborne showing the triple load technique compliments of Barracuda Tackle).

If you are short on time (haha) or just don’t want to mess with the cast net, get your artificials out.  We love our Mirr-O-lures, Rapala, Paul Brown and DOA lures for most inshore fish.  If  you want to just troll with the kids or cover some new ground use a a planer or deep diving plugs.  If your looking for bigger pelagics, we love Iland Lures.  Let us know what you are using … we love hearing your feedback.

Freshwater … Yep, we do that too.  Some of us not fortunate enough to live on the water, love to fish our little ponds and lakes throughout the state.   Float a cricket or shiner or your favorite crank bait.  We have been pitching a few soft plastics from 13 Fishing lately with some fun results. 

Bottom line we love that fishing is an approved activity in Florida which includes everything from salt to freshwater.  As we move into re-opening the state we will do our best to keep you updated on local retailers so we can support them through this pandemic. 

Fishing Services Under Florida Safer At Home Guidelines

With things seemingly ever changing Old Salt reached out to local tackle shops, marinas and service providers to see who/what is open, what services (what constraints) they are providing to keep us geared up for catching fish.   We are encouraging everyone to SUPPORT your local businesses to help ensure they will be there for you in the future.   Old Salt is spreading the word to anglers and boaters alike to help assist these small guys during these hard economic times.    (See the list below of local shops and their hours of operation)

Bait & Tackle

Betts’s Fishing Center

390 – 150th Avenue  •  Madeira Beach, FL 33708
727-399-9963
https://customfishing.com/index.html

HOURS: Tues – Thur 10am -4pm;  Fri-Sat 9am-5pm; Closed Sun-Monday
Curbside pick up & drop off;  Call ahead ordering
Frozen Bait •  Tackle: Salt to Freshwater lines  •  Minkota Repair
Custom Rod and Rod Repairs

Fisherman’s Ideal Supply House (FISH)

750 – 150th Avenue  •  St. Petersburg, FL 33708
727-391-7380
http://fishsaltwatertackle.com/

HOURS:  9am to 5pm Monday thru Friday;  Call ahead on Saturday limited hours
Order ahead  •  CDC compliant in-store shopping available
Frozen Bait  •  Tackle  (full line) •  Custom Rods / Rod Repairs
Boat supplies: dock line to life preservers (full line)

Rick’s Rods

390 – 150th Avenue  •  Madeira Beach, FL 33708
727-399-9963
http://www.rickscustomrods.com/

HOURS: 9am to 6pm  /  Everyday
Live bait  •  Frozen Bait  •  Ice  •  Tackle  •  Rod Repair & custom rods

Dogfish Tackle & Marine

8750 Park Blvd  •  Seminole, FL 33777
727-399-0302
https://www.dogfishtacklecompany.com/

HOURS: Mon-Fri 9am to 7pm;  Sat 9am to 6pm;  Sun  9am to 4pm
Curbside Pickup Only  – Online order or call in orders
Tackle (full line)  •  Custom Rods and Repairs

Treasure Island Fishing Company

6576 Central Avenue  •  St. Petersburg, FL 33707
727-343-4181
https://www.treasureislandfishingbaitandtackle.com/

HOURS:  Mon – Thur 7am to 5:30pm;  Fri-Sat 6:30am to 6:30pm;  Sun 7am to 5pm
Curbside Pick up / Order Online or phone
Live bait • Frozen Bait • Tackle and More

Mastry’s Bait & Tackle

1700 4th Street South  •  St. Petersburg, FL 33701
727-896-8889
http://www.mastrystackle.com/

HOURS: 8am to 6pm Mon thru Sat
Live & Frozen Bait  •  Tackle  •  Rod Repair

Angler 360

290 Causeway Blvd  •  Dunedin , FL
727-276-1311
http://www.angler360.com/home.html

HOURS: 6am to 10pm /  Open Daily
Curbside Pick up available – Call ahead

Bay Pines Bait & Tackle

9385 Bay Pines Blvd  •  St. Petersburg , FL
727-827-2687
http://www.facebook.com/baypinesbaitandtackle

HOURS: Open Daily

Marinas

Madeira Beach Marina

503 150th Ave, Madeira Beach, FL 33708
(727) 399-2631
https://www.madeirabeachmarina.com/

HOURS:  Open Mon-Thur 7am to 6pm;  Sat-Sun 7am -7pm / Come by Boat Only
Boat ramp is closed to public
Fuel prices: $2.60 gas / $2.40 diesel
Tackle, Frozen Bait, Ice and Chum

Bay Pines Marina

5000 92nd Street N  •  St. Petersburg, FL  33708
727-392-4922
http://www.baypinesmarina.com/

HOURS:  8am to 5pm  /  Open Daily – By Water Only
Gas prices: $2.48 non-ethonal gas  (subject to change)
Limited tackle and bait

Service

Mastry Engine Center & Suzuki Repower

2801 Anvil Street North
St. Petersburg, Florida 33710
Local: 727-522-9471

Mastry Engine Center: https://www.mastry.com/
Suzuki Repower: https://www.suzukirepower.com/

Pro Marine

9293 Bay Pines Blvd
St. Petersburg, Florida 33708
Local: 727-826-0828

Mastry Engine Center: https://www.mastry.com/
Suzuki Repower: https://www.suzukirepower.com/ *

  • Suzuki Repower has 10 service centers across the state of Florida

Talk To Us

If you are an owner, employee or customer of a local bait and tackle shop, marine retailer or marina that is open with CDC guidelines enforced with curbside pickup, call ahead ordering or looking forward to re-opening soon we want to know.  Take a moment and click the “Talk To Old Salt” button below to fill out a quick information form and we will add you to the next update.

In Parting

Our last piece of advice:  Lets all do our part to get open as fast and safely as possible.  This includes adhering to our national, sate and local government guidelines.  Let’s work with them to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.  We are anxious to OPEN too, but let’s keep our community in mind. Thank our first responders and keep up our social distancing practices and let’s hope this is all behind us soon.

Tight lines and calm seas on and off the water …

Tom Verdensky
President, Old Salt Fishing Foundation

2 Responses to Fish The Pandemic – Old Salt Fishing Foundation

  1. Should we support florida keys business even if they closed on march 24 and are still closed to all of us fellow floridians?

    • The short answer is, yes we should support them. That said, as physical access has been curtailed none of us can support Keys based businesses in person right now. Supporting at a distance may seem a thin gruel but, support them we should. As the state opens up and access to the Keys becomes available we can make our support more tangible. Remember, it was not the businesses themselves that shut down access to the Keys. That was a government response to the circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

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