Larry’s Bait and Tackle offers more than namesake suggests

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Former Reporter
05/31/2018 08:15 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Larry Fulton has owned and operated Larry’s Bait and Tackle in Fort Gibson for 22 years. He offers various bait and tackle options, including slip float bobbers used for catching sand bass and catfish. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Larry’s Bait and Tackle is located near the Grand-Neosho River and Fort Gibson Dam, giving customers a convenient location to stop in and gather fishing supplies before a day out on the water. Owner Larry Fulton has expanded the shop’s offerings since taking over the building in 1994. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Larry’s Bait and Tackle is located at 22544 Highway 80 in Fort Gibson, one mile south of Fort Gibson Dam Owner Larry Fulton says he has compiled a lifetime of fishing knowledge extending back to the 1960s and is happy to share advice with his customers. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Larry Fulton, who owns Larry’s Bait and Tackle in Fort Gibson, donated a custom 12-foot, two-piece fishing pole for the Cherokee Phoenix’s second quarter giveaway. Entries can be obtained by donating to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Subscription Fund or by purchasing a newspaper subscription or merchandise. One entry is given for every $10 spent. Drawing will be held July 2. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
FORT GIBSON – When customers stop at Larry’s Bait and Tackle on their way to the Grand-Neosho River or Fort Gibson Dam, they can walk away with fishing wisdom that goes beyond worms and bobbers.

“Ever since I was a kid I’ve enjoyed fishing, and I’ve developed different techniques and different ways of fishing that I can relay to my customers when they come in,” Larry Fulton, who has owned and operated the business for 22 years, said.

The Cherokee Nation citizen has compiled fishing knowledge extending back to the 1960s and is happy to share it with customers.

“I relay to customers how to fish during certain times of the year,” he said. “There’s different ways in the springtime and in the fall, and when they’re running water and when they’re not running water at the dam. I spent a lot of time learning and knowing about fish.”

Fish are more active depending on water temperature, he said. “Mother Nature, her way of letting the fish know about the different seasons is through water temperature. That’s what fish have to go by, is water temperature, for them to do their active things. Once that water temperature gets warmer and starts coming up, you’ll see more activity in the water.”

Fulton said understanding basic fishing mechanics is not enough to guarantee reeling in a huge catch. “A lot of people and kids have been taught that all you have to do is grab a rod and reel, make sure it has line on it, grab a hook, a bobber or some bait and it’s fishing. It’s fishing, but there’s a difference in just going fishing and catching fish. You may catch a few fish, but there’s something to that.”

Known most widely for his crappie fishing, Fulton has caught everything from spoonbills to stripers during his time and adapted his techniques to the intended catch.

“A lot of people don’t know to choose bait or a lure to the fish that they’re wanting to catch, and you have to adapt to increase your chances,” he said. “You can go to Wal-Mart and go to the sporting goods department and try to ask somebody there for advice, and they’re just there to get you in and check you out. Here, I have a lot of people say they come see me because they learn from me.”

Fulton recommends Bucktail Jigs, Rooster Tail Inline Spinners and silver spoons for anyone eager to catch sand bass, while catfish are best caught with smaller bait. “If you want to get into the catfishing, we have the live and frozen baits. Worms also work really good. Most people want to use shad. Minnows are good for catching catfish, too, because catfish eat small bait.”

When not giving fishing advice, Fulton can be found repairing rods and reels. One rod can take him 40 hours to strip and refinish before securing new line guides and thread, which he d0es by hand.

“I like taking rods and stripping them down and fixing them,” he said. “I make the thread, and you can’t buy the thread like that. I sit and what I do is I attach the thread to the rod and then I sit here and spin thread all around and wrap it around. I don’t have a machine. Most of it is just eyesight. No one does that. It’s unique to the rod.”

Fulton said he gets customers as far away as Arkansas and Texas asking him to rewrap their rods and give them some customized flair. “If they want something different, I have them pick out the rope wrap they want and we’ll match the color of the thread. I can’t tell you how many rods I’ve done that look like junk. Then when I give it back to them the look on their face and the joy, their attitude after they come and see the rod is just great.”

Fulton has been rewrapping rods for more than 12 years and has created a custom-wrapped rod as the prize for Cherokee Phoenix’s second quarter giveaway. The 12-foot, two-piece fishing pole features custom finishes and red, grey, blue, black and gold-colored thread.

To enter the giveaway, donate to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Subscription Fund or purchase a newspaper subscription or merchandise. One entry is given for every $10 spent. Drawing will be held July 2. For more information, call Justin Smith at 918-207-4975 or email justin-smith@cherokee.org.

For more information on Larry’s Bait and Tackle, find it on Facebook or call 918-478-3225.

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