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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013 6 years ago

Bait shop owner Ike Leary is back

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After five weeks away, Granada Pier Bait and Tackle owner Ike Leary says, "I am back to the job I love."

BY WAYNE GRANT | STAFF WRITER

Shoppers at Granada Pier Bait and Tackle, the little white building with the red tile roof by the boat ramp at the west end of the Granada Bridge, might be glad to know that owner Ike Leary is back on the job.

Leary has been selling bait and tackle, between chatting with patrons, since he began his lease with the city in 1999 — and he has a lot of loyal customers. A couple of years ago, the Ormond Beach City Commission met to discuss possibly putting the lease up for bids, but about 50 people attended the meeting to support Leary.

“They gave me a five-year lease,” Leary said. “Now I’ve got three years to go. After that, I’m going to try to extend it out another five years and then hang it up. I’ll be 72.”

Leary has been absent for the shop the past five weeks, following knee surgery. He just got discharged, though, and now, he says, he’s ready to go back to work.

“I put in 60-hour weeks before and I’m going to get right back into it,” he said. “I’m fully recovered and I’m getting back to the job I love.”

Leary, 64, worked as a plumber most of his life and now enjoys running the bait shop. He’s also a commercial fisherman and catches some of the bait he sells.

“I love it here,” he said. “The ambience is just terrific. I watch the sun rise over the river. Who could ask for anything better?”

It’s the perfect place for a bait shop. It’s beside a walkway that winds under the bridge by pilings where fish like to hang out. It’s on Granada Boulevard, a straight shot to the ocean. It’s next to a boat launch for people going out into the Halifax River. There’s a dock where charter boats can pick up passengers.

Another advantage is that the shop is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Thomas Hackett, who works for Leary at the shop, said a lot of people stop by after work to do some evening fishing, or even just buy drinks or a snack.

People can also rent kayaks to paddle around the river.

“Most people like to rent a kayak for about an hour,” Hackett said. “Some people like to go out into the middle of the river where the big fish are. Sometimes people just paddle around to see if they want to buy one.”

Leary said he would also like to be involved with the Reel in the Fun Fishing Tournament if they have another one next year.

“I could have a raffle for the kids and give away rods and reels” he said, adding that he currently works with children at Sunglow Pier.

Leary was operating the Happy Fisherman Bait Shop on Riverside Drive in Holly Hill when he was asked by the city of Ormond Beach in 1999 to take over operation of the bait shop.

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