When you think of a bait and tackle shop, rarely do you expect to find someone like Jessica. But, in Murrells Inlet, she is the first person you think of. Widely known for her prowess with everything from tying rigs to knowing the hot fishing spots on any given day, Jessica lives and loves everything to do with fishing. You can’t miss the bait shop with its bright pop of aqua blue and red as you are driving down Highway Business 17 in Murrells Inlet, SC. The open air shop circa 1954, was rolled up with logs from its original site on the creek in 1971 by Winston Perry and Jessica attributes most everything she knows about tying rigs to him. With generations of Perry’s wisdom for tying rigs, Jessica was a fast learner and the speed at which she ties will amaze you.
Perry’s Bait and Tackle is part quaint, and part chaos with its size challenged space. Jessica rotates her stock seasonally so you will find just about anything you need. With her artistic flare, wall art is the backdrop for rods and reels, tee shirts, bandanas, decals, and lots of lures! But fresh bait is what keeps fisherman coming back and the fact that along with the bait, you get the fishing tips and advice from Jessica makes it a must for any fisherman, novice or experienced. It takes patience when fishing and with Jessica, her patience is evident with her customers. She takes time with each and everyone to find out what they are fishing for, where they are going, and anything else she needs to know to help make sure their experience is a great one. “They feel at home with me and there are no dumb questions” she states.
What makes her bait shop special is the fact that salt pipes from the creek flow through the tanks which keeps her bait fresh and 90% of the bait caught locally. Fisherman can pull right up to the dock, tie up and get bait, ice, snacks, or stop by the shop on Business 17- whichever they choose.
You might say that Jessica has some salty language which she makes no apology for. “What you see is what you get. I’m around dudes all day and commercial fishermen don’t have the cleanest mouths.” she explains. And, they love her! Jessica majored in chemistry and biology at East Carolina University and she realized that her path to becoming a pharmacist was going nowhere. She wanted to be outside and wanted to get her hands dirty….and that she does! She has been featured on rigging segments with Reelin Up The Coast, and has held several seminars at Huntington Beach State Park as well as West Marine. Teaching people about fishing and tying knots is her passion and her gift. Meeting people from all walks of life and from all over the world, Jessica is clearly a people person.
I asked Jessica what is biting now and she said that most people are flounder fishing but there are a few reports on speckled trout and slot size red fish (15- 23 inches are keepers). Off shore reefs are good for Spanish Mackarel and in not much time, you will be able to fish for them off the piers and jetties.
So what is lurking underneath the waters of our beautiful Carolina coast? If you are in pursuit of a memorable fishing adventure, make sure you start your journey at Perry’s Bait and Tackle – Jessica can help you fill your cooler!