The start of fall, on Saturday at 2:49 a.m., ushered in a rather robust tropical storm named Ophelia.
Ophelia, a character in Shakespeare’s tragedy “Hamlet,” packed a healthy punch. Winds gusted to well over 40 knots at times on Block Island Sound, and over two inches of rain had fallen by Monday afternoon. Goodbye, summer; hello, fall. Ophelia had made her mark.
“Ugh, it has been really nasty,” sighed Ken Morse from behind his counter at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor, on a blustery Sunday afternoon. “It was a washout. Before the blow, the fishing was mediocre, so I hope this storm will shake things up.”
Speaking of shake-ups, Morse has one of his own on the horizon. After 23 years on Bay Street, he will soon relocate his popular tackle shop from Sag Harbor to Southampton.
Long story short, the rent Morse paid on his establishment was doubled earlier this year. Operating already on thin profit margins, he began to explore other storefront locations, preferably in Sag Harbor.
“There were really no affordable options,” he said. “Rent prices are through the roof and are very limited. I needed to expand my search.”
Happily, Morse did find a more affordable location at 260 Hampton Road, just a few blocks away from Southampton Town Hall and Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. It’s also right next to Ted’s East End Market, a popular deli. A good egg sandwich and hot cup of coffee pairs perfectly with a rod and reel.
That said, a squabble occurred between the co-owners of Morse’s store on Bay Street over the summer. The duo ultimately sold the building, and he got a new landlord who wanted Morse to remain in his current location at a more reasonable monthly rate. Unfortunately, it was too late. Morse had already signed a long-term lease for the new location.
“I’m really very sad to leave Sag Harbor,” he said. “But I also am excited to be in a great location in Southampton. I have an incredibly supportive landlord, the new store will be larger, has great visibility from the street, and plenty of parking. Plus, my family and I only live three miles away from the new store. I’m looking forward to a new beginning.”
“That said, I’ve spent a vast majority of my working life here in Sag Harbor,” he added. “It has meant the world to me. It will be a bit weird not to drive here every day to go to work. I will miss my daily routine. But I’m very excited about my new store and location.”
Morse expects to close his shop somewhere between Oct. 7 and 10 and plans to open the new storefront a few days later, “as soon as I can plug in the cash register,” he said with a chuckle. “I really don’t want to miss a beat.”
With his warm smile and firm handshake, Morse has been a fixture for decades for those buying bait, tackle, gear, a nd other fishing goods on the Sag Harbor waterfront. He started his first tackle shop in 1990, then called Bayview Tackle and Fish Market, a few blocks west on Bay Street at the property now owned by the musician Billy Joel.
Morse has always been highly respected for his direct and honest view on the current fishing scene, as well as being able to outfit a novice angler with their first fishing rod and reel at a nominal price. He’s honest and fair, no matter who enters his shop.
Many will miss him around Sag Harbor. The new shop will be close by, but it’s still disappointing to see small mom-and-pop operations like Tight Lines, which have proudly served the local community for decades, moving out. Best wishes to Morse in his new location.
The inclement weather over the weekend also delayed the East Hampton Town Trustees’ 33rd annual Largest Clam Contest. The popular event will now be held on Sunday, Oct. 8. Diggers with an East Hampton Town shellfish permit can now search town waters for that giant mollusk between Sept. 30 and Oct. 7.
The entry fee is $1 and includes a clam container. A container and a list of rules can be picked up at the trustees’ office on Bluff Road in Amagansett. Questions can be directed to 631-267-8688.
Fishing tips, observations, and photographs can be sent to [email protected].