Knowing what to fish and the best time to catch them is something of an art form, and locals have been coming to Smith Point Bait & Tackle in Shirley for tips, supplies and to share stories since 1951.

The business was purchased by Michael Carney and his wife Barbara Burkhardt in 1981 and managed for decades by Barbara’s son, Craig Burkhardt.

That is, until mid-September, when Burkhardt closed it after his stepfather died following a bout with cancer.

“I don’t want to do it anymore,” said Burkhardt, 45, of Mastic Beach, who spent nearly every day at the shop. “I’m on to different things.”

Smith Point Bait & Tackle
Craig Burkhardt’s family ran Smith Point Bait & Tackle for 38 years before closing it in September. He is in the process of selling it. Photo by Carl Corry

But that’s not the end of the story.

Burkhardt said he is in the process of selling the business. He said the prospective buyer, who he did not disclose, plans to renovate the building and keep it as a bait and tackle shop.

For his part, Burkhardt plans to earn a commercial driver’s license.

“I’m going to drive a truck,” he said. “But right I’m doing a lot of hunting and fishing.” 

The sale of the business is “almost like my retirement,” said the married father of three. “It’s not enough to live on, but we’ll be comfortable.”

Michelle Lara contributed to this report.