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Fins Tackle and Cafe lures business to new Clatskanie location

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Fins Tackle

Bryce Merry explains the difference between herring and anchovy bait at Fins Tackle and Cafe in Clatskanie. The bait and tackle shop will be moving across town. It will reopen May 5.

It didn’t take long for Fins Custom Tackle in Clatskanie to make a splash.

After opening the shop in mid-February, owners Bryce Merry and his fiancee, Debbie Putnam, are moving the thriving bait and tackle operation to the old Latte Da Coffee space at 955 Columbia River Highway. The new location is just a two-minute drive from the Beaver Boat Ramp and Park, and it adds another bait and tackle option for anglers coming up Highway 30 from Portland.

The move caps a strong several months for Fins, which started as a custom rod shop and reel repair service that occupied a corner of the couple’s 700-square-foot antique store on Nehalem Street.

“It was small, and we quickly outgrew it,” Merry said.

Merry said he caught his first salmon at the age of 3, and he’s been immersed in the fishing world virtually all his life.

“I do a lot of salmon and steelhead fishing and know what everyone uses and wants,” he said Monday.

The shop’s performance appears to bear that out.

Merry said he sold more than $7,000 in fishing rods within the first month at the Nehalem Street location. Soon after opening, customers started asking for fishing tackle and “everything else,” he said.

And that’s what Merry and Putnam aim to provide at their new 2,000-square-foot space.

The new Fins location will boast a full selection of bass, trout and halibut tackle. Merry has also partnered with Cousins Rods, a San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based rodmaker and tackle warehouse. In addition, the shop will carry a full selection of Okuma rods and Daiwa reels. It will also feature bulk line and a line-winding machine, and clam diggers can purchase clam guns and shovels.

Fins also will maintain its large selection of used rods, and the shop will continue to welcome trade-ins in exchange for custom-built rods.

Merry said the shop will carry “a huge selection” of bait, including herring, smelt, anchovies and Washington Coon shrimp.

Half of a display wall will also be devoted to Shortbus Flashers, a popular piece of gear for trolling salmon and other types of fish.

“We’re kind of known for them,” Merry said. “Our selection is a little ridiculous.”

A drive-up bait window will open at 6 a.m. Early birds can pick up bait starting at 4 a.m. when the Buoy 10 fall fishing season begins.

Even with all of its new offerings, the shop will continue to operate as a full-service cafe and deli.

“We’ll still be doing coffee, breakfast sandwiches, chips, candy and soda,” Merry said.

Boat trailers and RVs will find plenty of parking space in the property’s spacious lot, and Merry said Fins will eventually add outside seating and a picnic area by the river.

Fins will be officially open for business May 5, less than two weeks before the white sturgeon season begins on May 14.

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