By Gus Herrera
Wil Fitzpatrick, owner of Wil’s Sport and Tackle, is Monrovia’s very own fishing guru. Since 2012, the store has been a sanctuary for local fisherman to procure equipment, maintain their tools, and exchange fish tales.
Wil’s carries everything a fisherman would need: reels, fresh and saltwater bait/tackle, hooks, sea-sickness pills, cleaning products, and more. They offer many of the industry’s biggest brands, both international and domestic: Franklin, Owner, Izorline International, Warbaits, Mustad, Cal-Star, to name a few. They also carry Japanese companies such as Daiwa, Shimano, and Okuma.
The store caters to all levels of fishing expertise, from kids’ gear, to the high-quality equipment necessary for an international trip, “We set people up for long-range tuna trips down into Mexico. I have a customer that went to Mongolia, we get Alaska customers, we get people that go everywhere.”
Wil’s also provides all the crucial fishing services – Fitzpatrick repairs rods, reels, guides, and handles. In addition, he places line on reels and can even create custom-wrapped rods. Full servicing can take up to a week, but Fitzpatrick always does his best to accommodate any of his friends’/patrons’ fishing emergencies, “I’ve had some come in where I can barely turn the handle and then they’re leaving within an hour.” As a result, customers come from near and far to benefit from Fitzpatrick’s magic touch, “from Pasadena all the way to Santa Fe Springs.”
Wil’s Sport and Tackle also engages in community outreach, occasionally hosting free classes where students can learn how to tie a multitude of knots and splices in a friendly, welcoming environment. Students are each taught one-on-one, in order to ensure a high quality of instruction.
Fitzpatrick reveals why it is so important to provide an educational environment that emphasizes open-mindedness: “A lot of people will feel nervous, a lot of shops make you feel stupid because you don’t know this or you don’t know that, and so customers get nervous about asking. We pride ourselves in the fact that you can come in and there are no stupid questions. The only stupidity is going out there after not asking and then messing up.” Typical fishing scenes might appear tranquil and serene in our imaginations, but safety must always come first when you go out on the water, especially if you are a solo fisherman.
Fitzpatrick revealed that the recent drought has impacted local fishing conditions, “freshwater has really suffered. Diamond Valley Lake has finally been able to open their launch ramp. The water was below the ramp for a while … the water levels up in the Sierras were extremely low … Putting Stone in San Dimas even posted ‘don’t eat fish’ because the contaminates were so concentrated.”
Despite these circumstances, he says that water levels have slowly improved and he expects this summer to be a fruitful one for fishing, especially in the ocean, “Looks like it’s going to be a good summer … right now there’s a lot of tuna and big tuna. They’re seeing tuna that are 250-plus pounds only a couple miles off shore.”
Fitzpatrick, himself, is an avid saltwater fisherman who partakes, “anywhere from San Diego up to Morrow Bay.” Although he does not get the chance to go out on the water as much as he would like, when he does, he prefers the ocean because the “fish are bigger and meaner.”
For those interested in freshwater fishing, Fitzpatrick recommends the following nearby fishing spots: Peck Lake, Santa Fe Dam, Santa Anita Creek, and San Gabriel River/Dam.
Wil’s Sport and Tackle is located at 310 S. Myrtle Ave., right across the street from the Monrovia Public Library.
The store is open seven days a week, with the exception of some holidays, so Fitzpatrick is always around to answer any questions and fulfill all of your fishing needs.
For more information and upcoming event listings, call (626) 357-3300 or visit www.WilsSportandTackle.com.