Carrying on the legacy of local fly-fishing expert Norm Ziegler and expanding upon the respected fishing reputation of Whitney’s Bait & Tackle, owner Whitney Jones celebrated the grand opening of Sanibel Fly Outfitters at 2242 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Island, on Thursday, June 30, with a Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting.
“Sanibel Fly Outfitters slowly opened its doors in April of 2022 and has been busy filling the shelves with the largest selection of Simms and Orvis men’s and women’s clothing, over 20 brands of fly rods-and-reels, over 300 fly patterns – including ties locally tied by our very own experts,” said Jones. “We also provide rentals rods, guided trips, casting lessons, and, most importantly, local knowledge.”
Jones started his fishing career in 1990 in Kitty Hawk, N.C., where he worked in a tackle shop and learned to build custom fishing rods as an apprentice under the shop owner. With a full appreciation for all things fishing, Jones decided to go out on his own and opened the first Whitney’s Bait & Tackle in Kitty Hawk in 1993.
In 2003, he visited Sanibel Island for the first time and loved the area so much he decided to move a year later. While working at a local bait shop, he earned his captains’ license and started exploring local waters. He left the bait shop in 2007 to work on his own as a full-time fishing charter captain. In 2012, he opened Whitney’s Bait & Tackle on Periwinkle and later dedicated a large portion of the shop to fly fishing with displays of rods, reels, flies, and all the related gear. When Ziegler decided to sell his shop, Jones quickly jumped on the opportunity to continue that legacy.
“The team at Sanibel Fly Outfitters is made up of many familiar faces from Norm’s, Whitney’s, the Sanibel FlyFishers club, and our guides,” said Jones, who is active in the fly-fishing club and conservation and charitable efforts with area organizations such as Captains for Clean Water, SCCF, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, and the Sanibel School.
“We believe that providing what Sanibel Fly Outfitters offers is a great way to introduce visitors to the incredible, nature-filled environment and hope that they will gain an appreciation for its beauty and naturally become stewards of the environment so that it is here for others to appreciate for years to come, Jones said.”
The retail operation has the largest fly-fishing selection within 50-mile radius, he added, and recommends his fly-fishing charters, which cover waters from Boca Grande to Key West, for parties of one or two.
“Whitney has established himself to be as savvy a business partner as a fisherman, and a true asset to the community,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “We happily welcome his latest endeavor to the islands’ retail landscape.”
“We are ecstatic to join our fellow businesses on-island and will continue to provide the same level of service at our sister shop,” said Whitney. “Thank you to John Lai and the team at the chamber for providing this opportunity to join forces with area businesses and visitors. I appreciate their efforts to fight for clean water and keep our island alive.”
ABOUT SANIBEL & CAPTIVA ISLANDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. With more than 460 active Chamber members from both islands and businesses from Lee and Collier counties, the Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents, and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. The Francis P. Bailey, Jr., Chamber Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Sanibel Island and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year. VISIT FLORIDA named the visitor center one of 13 official Florida Certified Tourism Information Centers in the state. It is open 365 days a year and provides comprehensive information about things to do, places to visit, and where to stay, shop, and dine. The chamber website sanibel-captiva.org receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year.
For more information about the chamber, visit sanibel-captiva.org or contact Landen Collins, communications and marketing manager, at 239-472-8255 or [email protected].