CTF Name: AndrewFF3
Real Name: Andrew Nichols
Age: 27
Current City: Middletown, CT
Hometown: Middletown, CT
Family Members: My father Tom, my mother Robin, and I have a younger sister, Sarah who now lives in Oregon
Occupation: Owner, Fishin' Factory III, Middletown CT

1. You recently took over ownership of Fishiní Factory III in Middletown, CT. What made you decide to run a tackle shop as opposed to another line of work?
I pretty much grew up in a bait shop. I worked for Phil (the previous owner) for close to seven years helping out on the weekends and filling in for him when he needed to be somewhere else, so when he decided it was time for him to retire after close to twenty years at the store in Middletown it kind of fell in my lap. Phil had always assumed that I was going to take over where he left off and I couldnít imagine anyone else owning the store that I spent most of my life in so it just kind of happened.

2. What do you parents think about your decision?
My parents are thrilled for me. Mostly due to the fact that for once in my life I have to be responsible and hold down a real job. The fact that every morning when I wake up and go to work instead of head to the ramp to launch my boat thrills them. My father is pumped because he works third shift at Pratt and when he gets home he goes to sleep until noon, so now when he wakes up he can come down to the shop for coffee and social hour. He likes that a lot, plus I love spending time with him so Iím excited as well!

3. In addition to running the shop, do you do other work?
I work part time at the Independent Day School in Middlefield. During the off season I work as a substitute teacher for grades K-8. I also coach the Varsity Soccer and Basketball teams.

4. What is the toughest thing about running your own business?
The toughest thing about running my own business is the hours!

CTF member DEN (left) and Andrew.

5. What is the most rewarding thing about running your own business?
The most rewarding thing about running my own business, especially in the fishing industry is the look on customers faces when they are successful using both knowledge and products you have provided them, that is by far the most rewarding!!!

6. What differentiates your shop from others in the area?
The atmosphere at the shop I believe differentiates my shop from some other shops, but then again every shop has a different and unique atmosphere. There isnít a lot of shops close by so its tough to really say. My personal feeling is that the local tackle shops have to stick together. I have a few close relationships with people who own or work at other shops and I am always willing to give them a hand with things. Itís a tough business to be in especially with all the big chain stores close by, so its important that we share information with each other.

7. What are some of the most common misconceptions people have about the tackle shop business?
The most common misconception people have about the Tackle Shop business is that we are all getting rich overnight. People establish a relationship with me and assume that because they know me they are entitled to a deal because of how much they spend at my store over a period of time. Do these same people make these demands for a deal at the super market they buy there weekly groceries at?

8. Besides the basics (rods, reels, line, lures, etc.) what three pieces of gear do you recommend to help people catch more and bigger fish?
The most important things besides lures, rods & reels and line that an angler can posses in order to catch more and bigger fish are for one Patience, patience is key, in order to understand a species of fish and there feeding habits it is extremely important to be patient and not give up on understanding the situation at hand. The second thing, a subscription to Ctfisherman.com, there is so much great information posted on a daily basis that can help an angler accomplish his or her fishing goals. The third item would have to be a log book of past fishing trips. It is important to log information such as tide, time of day, lure of choice, basically everything and anything that you encountered on your trip, whether it was a successful trip or not.

9. When and how did you get into fishing?
I got into fishing as a young child. A buddy of mine (who is now stationed in Japan as a Marine) and I found a pond tucked back in the woods by my house, we came home loaded up with our parents rods and reels, dug up a few night crawlers and had a blast. Later that year while vacationing on Marthaís Vineyard my family had a picnic at Wasque Point on Chappaquiddick, my father set me up with a surfcaster, a pvc pipe and a fresh bunker head casted into the surf, an hour later my poll folded over and I landed a 40 pound striper from the surf, Iíve been hooked since!!!

10. Outside of running your business and fishing, what do you enjoy doing?
Outside of running my own business and fishing I enjoy being with my friends. I spend most nights hanging out with my friends at the shop and talking about our daily occurrences, playing Baggo (similar to horse shoes) or cards. I also enjoy sports, whether I am watching it live or on TV, or getting a few guys together for a pick-up game. I have a very completive nature.

11. Do you have a dream fishing trip or destination?
Iíd love to spend some time in the Florida Keys fishing the flats for Tarpon and Bone fish. I have always wanted to compare the fight of a Bone fish to that of a False Albacore. Peacock Bass in South America also intrigue me and I would love to spend some time targeting them on top waters as Iíve seen on film.

12. What kind of music do you enjoy?
I enjoy alternative rock, but most of the time I will tune my radio station to Talk Radio. I recently subscribed to Sirius Radio and love the fact that I can listen to both rock and talk radio without the commercials here at the shop!

13. What is your most memorable fishing experience?
My most memorable fishing experience would have to be one night as a kid, my father and I were fishing the Vineyard for Bass and began hooking into Brown Sharks. We were fishing with Penn 704z reels and nearly had them spooled on a few occasions. I can remember my father hooking into a 35 pound striper and being bummed out it wasnít another Brown shark, it was awesome!!!

14. Do you have any fish that got away stories that still haunt you?
I have a few, one would be a few years back while fishing with Beetle Bailey. I hooked two Striped Bass just over 50 pounds on back to back drifts. Beetle has caught numerous fish over 50 with a few over 60 as a commercial rod and reel fisherman on Cape Cod. He hooked a fish and asked me if I had ever landed a 60 pound fish, I said no so he handed me the rod, I fought this fish for a few minutes until I noticed I was running out of line on his old Penn Senator, at this point I began thumbing the spool in fear that I would get spooled, needless to say the line popped. Who knows if that fish was over 60 or even over 50, but I would have loved to find out.

Andrew and CTF member Frank.

15. What is your favorite kind of fish to pursue in and around CT? What are your top three tips for catching a lunker?
My favorite species to target in or around Connecticut would have to be the False Albacore. The Abie to me is an amazing fish for its size that absolutely whoops your ass. They can be extremely picky so they are very rewarding to land. The fact that I use light tackle and small tins makes them even more fun to battle with. In terms of tips for catching a lunker, the false albacore will put a whooping on you no matter what the fish weighs. Being in the right place at the right time makes all the difference in the world, as it does with most species. Two years ago I downsized my Flurocarbon leader from 30lb to 20lb and my hook up ratio increased immensely. Another tip would be to have confidence in what lure your throwing, The False Albie is the fish of a thousand casts. My last tip is donít be afraid to travel for them, as I learned this year, they wonít always come to you or show up in the same places you saw and caught them in previous years!

16. Youíre appointed head of the CT DEP. What three things do you change right away?
If I was appointed head of the DEP Iím not sure I would change much. Iíd love to see more species introduced to public CT waters such as Tiger Muskie. I would also love to work with surrounding states such as NY, Mass and RI on keeping our saltwater regulations all the same. Last I would love to see more game wardens, I understand the state can afford only so many but they are so important to the future of our stateís fisheries.

17. What is the strangest thing youíve seen or heard of a customer doing, either in your shop or out fishing?
Strange things happen in my shop ALL the time!!! One that really sticks out is a few years ago I had an attractive female customer in her early thirties who would come into the store and ask to see the eels. We keep them in a burlap bag in our tank and she would stick her hands in the bad and literally fondle the eels for a minute or two and leave without buying anything. Phil and I used to get a real kick out of it.

CTF member CWood Man and Andrew.

18. A parent is looking to get his kid into fishing. What type of equipment do you recommend to get the kid off to a basic start?
For the last 5 years I have run a summer fishing camp for children ages 6-12. The biggest mistake parents make when outfitting their child for fishing is purchasing them a closed face reel. An open faced spinning reel is the way to go when teaching a child how to fish. In terms of getting them interested in the sport it is extremely important to use something that will guarantee that they catch quickly and often, bait is the answer. A bobber and some night crawlers will get them interested right out of the gate. After you have sparked their interest you can introduce them to artificial baits such as rubber worms or spinner baits. You definitely want to spark their interest before getting technical!!

19. Are there any new or hot products that we should look out for in 2008?
There are constantly items that come out year after year that peak the interest of anglers. I think the big thing this year for my shop will be the 12 inch Sluggos as well as the tandem rigged Sluggos in the 9 inch. 80% of my customers fish the spring Striped Bass run here on the Connecticut River and they are always looking for a good lure that will replicate both the Alewives and Blue Back Herring. I know Iíll have a few in my soft plastics bag!

20. If you were to consult fellow CTF members Fish Scorpio, CWood Man and DEN for adviceÖWho would provide the best love life advice? Who would provide the best business advice? Who would provide the best fishing advice?
None of the above, but Iíll try to answer this question. In terms of love advice, I'd have to go with the Olí Sea Captain himself, Fish Scorpio. Heís forever preaching to me about compatibility. I rarely listen but he is the one I would go with based on my above options! Business advice, Iíd have to go with Chris (CwoodMan), he does run one of the most successful Porsche dealerships in the country. DEN would be my man for fishing advice. We both share the same passion when it comes to fishing for the elusive False Albacore. He has helped me step up my game in the last few years and has been the reasoning I have become so successful in catching these speedsters!!

Andrew and CTF member Fish Scorpio.