KEY LARGO -- Capt'n Pete's Pro Shop, at Mile Marker 103 bayside, has been open for just six months, but already, the spacious bait and tackle shop is reeling in a loyal customer base, said co-owner Pedro Portillo.
"We have a very happy clientele," he said.
Portillo for 15 years owned One Stop Shop Bait Tackle in the front of the building that is now Category 3 Bar Grill. He partnered with his girlfriend Brena Gorsuch in Capt'n Pete's and said the shop focuses on high-quality gear with an emphasis on American-made accessories.
Portillo and Gorsuch are targeting serious anglers who will spend a few extra dollars for top-of-the-line products. The shop's merchandise includes gear for everyone from bridge fishermen to big-game anglers, he added.
"The people want to spend money on local businesses, but they don't have any choices," Portillo, 52, said, touting his product lines.
They include Key Largo Rods, made by Islamorada resident Rick Berry, which come with a lifetime guarantee; Fin-Nor reels; and a range of Calcutta clothing apparel. In addition, the shop's separate fly room features a neatly organized selection designed by local resident Jack Fleischer. Flies are displayed and categorized according to species and fishing type, including bonefish, redfish, snook, offshore and inshore.
Portillo, though, said it is Capt'n Pete's bait selection and rod repair operation that most sets the shop apart from the competition. He said he makes weekly drives to the Miami area to purchase frozen mullet, ballyhoo, squid and other supplies from the respected BaitMasters company. In addition, the shop has four live wells filled with shrimp, pinfish, crabs, pilchards and goggle-eyes. A cooling system holds the water in the 12-by-4-foot shrimp well at 68.5 degrees F, which keeps the shrimp healthier and allows them to live longer, Portillo said.
Inside Capt'n Pete's repair room, anglers can have rods and reels repairs or customized. Simple rod tip repairs cost $5. Prices on other jobs vary.
Portillo also said he's planning to begin holding free monthly fishing seminars soon. Topics will include rigging bait, selecting bait and fly fishing.
"This is more about having fun than anything else," he said. "We want to give our customers the service and treatment they deserve."
Capt'n Pete's Pro Shop is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 305-890-6939.