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Howard Beach shop reels in clients

When you look out over the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, chances are the people you see casting lines in search of a big catch got their lures and fishing rods from nearby Cross Bay Bait & Tackle.

Opened in 1956, Cross Bay Bait & Tackle sells lures for salt water fishing, surf fishing, boat fishing and even those who pick a spot on the Cross Bay Bridge to fish.

“A majority of our customers are bridge guys,” said store manager Anthony Iannone, 26.

The shop, near the Howard Beach side of the Cross Bay Bridge at 164-26 Cross Bay Blvd., also has more than 100 fishing rods in stock, ranging in price between $30 and $400.

“It’s all in whatever you want to spend,” Iannone said. “We try to keep it reasonable.”

Iannone said the extensive knowledge base of the store’s employees has kept Cross Bay Bait & Tackle in business for more than 50 years.

“That’s the benefit of coming here instead of Modell’s,” said Iannone, who has been working at the shop since he was 12. “We give [customers] advice. The guy that was in fishing [in Modell’s] is in sneakers this week.”

The shop is an official fish weigh station, Iannone said, and Cross Bay Bait & Tackle takes pictures of their customers’ big catches and hangs them on a wall in the store and posts them on its Web site, crossbaybaitandtackle.com.

Iannone said the largest fish weighed by the shop was a 60-pound bass in the early 1990s. By comparison, the largest weighed this year was a 38-pounder.

“People like that,” Iannone said of the store putting photos of their customers’ catches on display. “They get a kick out of it.”

The shop sells more than 30 types of lures, including fresh clams and live crabs.

Iannone said all a customer needs to spend on bait for five hours of fishing is $20.

Fishing “is one of the cheapest things you can do for the day,” he said.

Currently, Cross Bay Bait & Tackle is selling lures to catch blue claw crabs, snappers and bluefish — the prominent species of the summer fishing season.

In the spring and fall, Iannone said, striped bass “is the big thing.”

“It’s the hot ticket. It’s good eating. Guys get really into it,” he said.

Fluke season generally runs from May to the end of October.

Cross Bay Bait & Tackle is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Depending on the weather, the shop may be open as late as 10 p.m.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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