Business

Angling for island sportsmen

The great irony of running a fishing store: there’s no time left for fishing.

“I fish less now than I ever have,” said islander Jeff Waite, co-owner of Northwest Angler, which relocated to Bainbridge this month from its longtime storefront in downtown Poulsbo.

Agreed business partner Troy Dettman, who manages the store and leads instructional excursions to area rivers and lakes:

“You never fish while you guide. You can’t hook a fish and have your client’s stuff in a knot. It’s one of my rules.”

The pair purchased the store from outdoors columnist Richard Stoll in 1997, bringing shared enthusiasm for outdoor recreation.

Dettman boasted years of experience as a river guide and part-owner of a fly shop in Oregon, and had managed the shop for Stoll. He formerly worked for the Bureau of Land Management and for the office of retired Oregon Sen. Mark Hatfield, on efforts that saw the designation of 11 protected “Wild and Scenic” rivers.

Waite had served as a whitewater rafting guide for about five years in Eastern Washington. “The rest of my outdoor skill set came from the Marines and the Boy Scouts,” he says.

With most of Northwest Angler’s clientele already coming from Bainbridge Island, part of what Waite describes as their “second five-year plan” was to move the outlet to this side of the bridge.

Enter fishing enthusiast Anton Krucky – as new partner, and influx of cash – which made the move possible sooner than expected. Krucky, a former executive for IBM in Hawaii, now works as a business consultant and is the founder of a biomedical research firm, Tissue Genesis.

He met Dettman and Waite after moving to Bainbridge in 1999 and heading over to Northwest Angler for tips on working the local waterways.

“My experience has always been at the client level,” Krucky said. “I feel that even if you can fish well on your own, you should get a guide (in a new area). They can show you so much, and then you can venture out on your own.”

Northwest Angler, now located in the Village shopping center, caters to fly fishermen with an array of high-end gear including Bainbridge-made Sage rods.

But a large part of the business is guided rafting and fishing trips around the Pacific Northwest and south to Mexico.

Recent offerings include “Fly Fishing School A-Z”; “Build Your Own Fly Rod”; a course on trout angling at Trophy Lakes golf course in South Kitsap; and various Olympic Peninsula steelhead excursions. Rafting destinations include the Grande Ronde and John Day rivers.

As much as a source for equipment, the shop is also a place to share fishing tips and perhaps tell a few tales of the big one that got away.

“The guys who used to hang around in the shop in Poulsbo were the first ones in the shop here,” Waite said.

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Northwest Angler in the Village is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Information: www.nwangler.com

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