Co-owner of Tyee Marine

Gearing up for the season

Murray Whelan and company are ‘run off their feet’ keeping up with the lead-up to fishing season

Murray Whelan and his staff hustle from one section of the store to another helping customers find what they’re looking for at a somewhat frantic pace.

It’s a crazy time of year for the folks at Tyee Marine downtown on Pier Street.

“This is a busy time for us, that’s for sure,” Whelan says between helping customers. “From now until about October, we’re pretty much run off our feet,” he says with a chuckle, looking around to make sure everyone in the store has been attended to. But as long as they’ve prepared properly, he says, it all runs smoothly.

“Usually by this time of year, we’d have all the stock we ordered over the winter and need for the summer here and on the shelves. You have to order more throughout the summer, obviously, but If you tried to start getting stock right now to sell next week, it would never happen. A lot of the stuff you see on the walls right now was purchased last September.”

Rods, reels and line, specifically, Whelan says, need to be ordered “well ahead of time, because manufacturers will do a production run and then move onto something else for three months, and if you want to get that other thing, you’re out of luck, because they’re not making any of those right now. You need to stay ahead of the curve all the time.”

And ahead of the curve they are. It helps that they’ve got a tracking system providing the data he needs to make his job easier these days.

“We’ve got a point of sale system in the store that we’ve had for eight years now that keeps track of every piece of anything that we’ve sold,” he says, “so we have a really good history of what we’ve sold and when – and we project based off that.”

Even with years of data on what they sell and when, however, it’s not always an exact science. Quite often, there’s a bit of guess work involved.

“It can change from year to year, depending on where the fishing is,” he says.

Wait…isn’t “fishing” everywhere there is water?

“Well, last year, for example,” he explains, “the fishing was strong south of Quadra all year. Typically, part way through summer, the fishery would shift north to the Chatham Point area, and that didn’t happen last year, so you don’t sell anchovies or anchovy heads – all the stuff you would use up there.”

They make those adjustments on the fly, though. Whelan’s been at this for 20 years, after all. It was kind of a dream of his to own a fishing store when he was in food retail.

“I have been a fisherman since I was about four years old, and this is where I used to buy my stuff. When we (he and his business partner Roger Kirk) found out that the business was for sale, we scrambled and were lucky enough to be able to get it together to buy the business.”

And while he wouldn’t trade that decision for the world, he says, it’s not all fun and games – even if it is what he loves.

“You know what they say about how you should always turn your hobby into your business? Well, that’s not entirely true, because what happens is you don’t have time to do your hobby anymore,” he says with another chuckle.

And while people at this time of year are re-stocking with “all the stuff they maybe didn’t replace after the last time they went fishing last fall,” such as putting fresh line on their rods, he says, they also have a full repair shop in-house for later in the season when people start breaking things.

Tyee Marine is located across from the government dock. You can also go online to tyeemarine.com to see what they can do for you.