Fly fishing gear

Capt. Harvey Bennett changes course


End of an era: Tackle Shop’s colorful owner will leave the counter behind

Harvey Bennett may be closing the doors of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett, but he will still be in the business, repairing rods and reels, building custom rods, and guiding people on fishing and hunting trips.

Jon M. Diat

The page will soon be turned in another chapter of Bonacker’s ancient history, when Captain Harvey Bennett, who has spent much of the past 70 years on the water catching fish and shellfish and in the field chasing deer, turkeys, ducks, and other poultry, is closing its popular bait and fishing tackle store in Amagansett.

But don’t say the word “retirement” when you see it. After more than 40 years of operating the Tackle Shop, it is changing course to serve customers in a different way, he said. Over the winter, Bennett plans to update his website to offer various equipment and items, and he will continue to repair and repair rods and reels, as well as make custom rods from his home. at Amagansett. And next year he will be ready to provide guide services for those interested in fishing from his boat or the beach or hunting game and poultry.

“I do not walk away from my customers, who have been very loyal to me for so long,” he said behind his counter last Thursday morning. “I see it as sort of a transformation into a remote hardware and guidance store now. “

“I get a lot of requests from people who want to learn how to read a beach for fish, how to drive properly and safely on an ocean beach, or just spend a morning fly fishing in Gardiner Bay. I also want to take clients to places that aren’t just local state parks, but areas that few people get to see and fish. “

Bennett added that “we also have a huge freshwater fishery here, which many overlook completely. Above all, I want to share my experience with others.

Yet the closure of his store represents the sad passage from a simpler era, when numerous bait and gear shops and delivery stations graced every town along the coastline.

“It was a crazy fun ride for sure,” said Bennett, a 13th generation Bonacker whose ancestors have played an important role in the fishing tradition here for over 300 years. “It’s a very difficult business, but I have no regrets at all. The good times outweigh the bad by 50 to one. I was fortunate to have met a lot of great people behind my counter. I have been very lucky in many ways.

The Tackle Shop has been a must-see for locals, tourists and even celebrities (actress Naomi Watts stopped by a few weeks ago to buy some gear). Musicians Jimmy Buffett and Paul McCartney were also regular customers, as were Christopher Reeve and Liz Taylor a long time ago, Bennett said.

From high-profile clients to a blue-collar surfcaster who fished all night long along the shore at Ditch Plain, Bennett has treated all of his clients with the same down-to-earth manner, and he’s not one to hold back his opinions.

Want to hear a good fish story or two? Bennett is your guy.

And while he has a wry sense of humor, he also has a warm heart. In recent years, he has collected and shipped countless boxes of clothing, shoes, school supplies and sports equipment to children in need in the Dominican Republic.

“It’s time to go in a different direction, which I’m very excited about,” he said. “I look forward to spending a lot more time fishing and hunting, and will continue to repair and order all types of gear as people want. I will pick up and deliver whatever people need. I’m not leaving.

Bennett, who is a licensed New York State guide and captain, said he hopes to close his shop by early December, “but I just don’t know at this time.” He continues to organize sales on all items in the store.

With more free time, he also plans to travel more. “I can’t wait to go and go on vacations and fishing trips,” he said. “But with Covid still there, I’m not making any immediate plans yet.” In the meantime, he’ll be following his beloved Las Vegas Raiders football team, as well as hooking up to any Nascar or Indy-style car racing.

Bennett will keep his old phone number at the Tackle Shop at 631-324-7770. He can also be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] and on thetackleshop.org.

“Email is probably the best way to reach me, as I usually check it every 20 minutes,” he said.