Christopher James, the owner of the new Blue Water Ventures, sits at his work table in his Southold business. The sun shines brightly in, warming the entire shop. On his work table, amongst all his equipment, tools and materials, rests a giant cup of coffee.
James is doing exactly what he loves, making fishing lures, or “tying,” as they call it in the business.
Open since May, the Main Road shop offers quality handmade fresh and saltwater lures. James also sells wholesale to area stores like East End Bait & Tackle in Hampton Bays.
His work is already developing a following.
“I just got a call from a guide up in Alaska, they do big salmon and trout fishing up there,” James said. “He does 200 guided trips each year and wants custom flies made.”
Born in Brooklyn, James grew up in Medford, where his family moved when he was five years old. Now living in Mastic, he and his wife, Susan, hope to eventually move further east, if the business takes off.
James, who just turned 50, recently renewed his childhood love of tying, after a neck injury ended his career as a nursing assistant.
“I got a fly tying kit when I was 10 or 12,” he said. “We did a lot of fresh water fishing back then because you could ride your bike to the lake. So I started tying and caught fish with them, so it grew from there.”
James works easily while talking, his nimble fingers twisting string and trimming bucktail hair with scissors. This morning he’s crafting a lure called a bucktail jig, which is made from the actual hair of a deer. The way the fur moves through the water creates the impression of a live fish.
“The hair is fairly stiff, but not so stiff that it doesn’t have some action in the water,” James explains. “When it gets wet and you pull it, it compresses and then opens back up, they call that ‘squidding.’ It’s like a squid goes through the water and that’s what the bucktail lures are intended to mimic.”
If James could be doing anything else in the world, he’d be out fishing with the lures he makes. While he prefers lure fishing himself, he does stock bait, like squid and clams for clients who would rather use bait.
“With lure fishing you’re the one putting the action and motion into that inanimate object,” he said. “Whereas with bait, the scent of the bait attracts the fish. You’re putting the life into that lure.”
Blue Water Ventures offers mostly saltwater fishing lures, although it stocks some for freshwater fishing as well. The store also sells fishing rods, leads, hooks, rigs, lines and freshwater components. James also performs rod and reel repairs.
Even though he’s just gotten started, James is ready to share his skills. He plans on holding several lure making or “tying” classes this fall in late October. Contact the shop for more information.
“A lot of people have been asking and there’s been such a good response from the community,” he said.
Blue Water Ventures is located at 45475 Main Road in Southold. It is currently open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week. For more information call (631) 219-2471 or follow the business on Facebook.