Anglers to get back Tarentum bait and tackle shop, along with its knowledge
After an October blaze shut down the only local bait and tackle store between Harmar and Kittanning, Allegheny Angler in Tarentum will soon be back in business.
The owners, who will be in their 31st year of selling minnows, shiners, worms and rods and reels of all kinds — as well as dispensing essential local fishing advice — at their Second Avenue and Ross Street shop, will soon close on purchasing the building.
They plan on re-opening in early March just before the run-up for trout season, according to co-owner, Rick DeMichele.
They struck a deal with building owner Olivia Phillips, who lived in the second-floor apartment in the L-shaped building, which was decimated by fire Oct. 17.
The first floor bait shop sustained only water damage.
Phillips said last year that she wanted to sell the building to the bait shop to keep the local fishing institution going.
With an enviable view of the Allegheny River only a block away, DeMichele said it would have been hard to shutter the business or move elsewhere.
“Everything is here, we are all set up,” DeMichele said. “We’re right by the river, a public boat launch and a Route 28 exit — you can’t beat that.”
It’s a good thing for anglers that the Tarentum bait shop will re-open, according to Mike Walsh, a Fish and Boat Commission Waterways Conversation Officer who covers eastern Allegheny County.
There simply aren’t that many local bait and tackle stores, with the closest ones almost 10 miles away in Harmar and more than 20 miles away in Kittanning.
“They have a large customer base and provide specialized hands-on service that only local bait stores can provide,” he said.
DeMichele added, “When you go to Walmart, they don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to fishing here.”
Anglers come to the Allegheny River and Bull Creek in Tarentum and nearby communities to fish for walleye, muskie, trout and much more.
“These guys know what bait anglers are using, whether shiners or green worms or whatever,” Walsh said. “They know the ‘hot baits.’”
The shop has been closed for three months for renovations, including a new roof, new wiring , part of a new ceiling and a general makeover.
The closure has been during the slow season, DeMichele said, but online orders have kept the business afloat.
One would think that Allegheny Angler’s top selling merchandise online would be freshwater-related, but no: it is saltwater rods and reels.
DiMichele’s nephew, Ed DiMichele, said it’s been a popular online product for the last eight years. Obviously, the DiMichele family’s fishing prowess extends beyond Tarentum.
Locally, DiMichele knows his business model quite well by now: “When it’s nice out, people go fishing. When it’s cold out, they don’t.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, email@example.com or via Twitter .