SEBASTIAN, Fla.— You work every day but Christmas. That’s what happens when you open a tackle store — at least, that’s what happens if you’re Carol Latour. That’s what happens when you trade the cold of Massachusetts for a 1,300-mile trip south and a new life in Florida.
“Some people have insinuated that I should be open then, too.” Latour says.
She wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Carol runs Reel ‘Em In Bait & Tackle in Sebastian, Florida—a town of about 20,000 perched along the Indian River on the state’s eastern seaboard. From this slow-paced relic of Old Florida, anglers bustle out in bay boats and offshore rigs in search of world-class snook and redfish under the morning light. Fueling many of their casts is Latour. She’s behind the Reel ‘Em In counter every day at daybreak, and at 6:30 a.m., her doors swing open to fisher-folk searching for live bait, lures and the supplies needed for a successful day on the water.
Carol waits behind the desk and dreams of the water so they don’t have to. It’s a trait shared by tackle store owners across the country. “Once you own a shop, you don’t get to fish much,” Latour laughs. It’s a great laugh … the kind that bounces off the walls of her store when regular customers — from snow birds to guides and local anglers — drop by.
Reel ’em In is a Sebastian stalwart now, but a decade ago things weren’t so easy for the New England transplant. Latour didn’t grow up fishing. She founded the store as a way to start a career working for herself. Fishing in Florida, she says, just made sense. But opening a new business over a thousand miles from home wasn’t easy. While the building that Reel ‘Em In sits in had previously housed a tackle store, Latour says little of their operation — just the live bait tanks — carried over.
She had to clean, renovate and build an all new customer base with almost no knowledge of the inner workings of the tackle industry, and she did it with a Walmart just a block and a half away. Wholesalers, suppliers, dealers and local fishing knowledge were hard to come by. “Nobody wants to tell you anything at first,” she’s quick to recall. “But I found Big Rock Sports and was able to start bringing product in. From there, suppliers found me.” After that, the local fishing knowledge followed, and now — twelve years after her 1,300-mile trip south — Latour can tell you how to find those world class snook and monster reds, along with any number of species lurking in the deeper waters just off the Florida coast from her store.