I can’t say how many times I’ve heard tall tales from fishermen puffing out their fins, so to speak, or from bait shop owners trying to sell their wares.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
I can’t say how many times I’ve heard tall tales from fishermen puffing out their fins, so to speak, or from bait shop owners trying to sell their wares. Not so, from the two brothers, who opened up Harbor Island Bait and Tackle at 111 East Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck this summer. If the Sound’s high temperatures have driven away the fish, Dave and Dan Catalano tell it like it is and offer realistic recommendations for tackling the inactivity.
“We don’t want our customers baking out in the hot sun for nothing. We make suggestions to increase their odds,” said Dan. “Our best reports come from the fishermen themselves,” added Dave.
That’s how it is with the brothers Catalano, who work together 13 hours a day, seven days a week. They finish each other’s thoughts, appreciate each other’s company, and truly enjoy imparting their fishing expertise. On our visit, there was a steady flow of clientele, as well as 12-year-olds absorbing fishing facts like sponges while milling about the miniscule bait shop.
Spending a better part of their own childhoods at their father’s wholesale/retail Island Bait shop on City Island, Dave, 25, and Dan, 20, inherited a vast knowledge. Although they don’t have the time to go fishing themselves these days, they love it and convinced their father they were capable of running their own outfit.
“It takes a lot of dedication, but we like running our own business,” said Dave, who is saving up to go back to college to pursue a degree in history. “My brother and I saw this as a great opportunity,” added Dan, who is currently earning a Business Administration degree, specializing in small business entrepreneurship.
When they first took over the shop, it was a rundown shack. They made extensive repairs, painted, installed glass doors, and are currently waiting for their sign. “We wanted to give the store a very nice look to fit in with the town of Mamaroneck,” Dave noted.
Besides the renovation, inventory was their main priority. Customer feedback largely determines what they carry. Despite the store’s limited space, there’s an impressive array of hooks, lures, floats, weights, chum cages, and tackle boxes. They carry high-performance Shakespeare, Pinnacle, Okuma, Lamiglas, Tica and Star rods, as well as high-quality Penn, Shimano and Fin-Nor reels.
As for summer’s-end fishing in our local waters, fluke are erratic, but snappers and porgies are plentiful. Striped bass and blue fish will most likely proliferate in the fall when the water temperature cools. Nevertheless, there is some activity in the Scotch Caps, Hens and Chickens, by Buoy 42, as well as across the Sound near Hempstead Harbor and Manhasset. Recreational fisherman Freddy Guitard had some luck at Execution Point and the waters off Greenwich, where his family snagged good size blues and stripers.
Before their outings, anglers may stop in at Harbor Island Bait and Tackle for just about any type of bait, including sand worms, bloodworms, spearing, fresh and frozen clams and bunker, as well as some brotherly advice. As the Catalanos said, “We love all our customers, especially the amateurs and the kids. We’ll steer everyone in the right direction.”