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Our History


Last Chance Bait and Tackle gets its name from its original location at the base of the San Jacinto Mountain. It was the last chance to buy fishing tackle before ascending the mountain to Lake Hemet. Established in February of 1998, the original building was an aged stand alone building with a wood burning stove fighting the winter cold and a swamp cooler blasting away the summer heat. The inventory began humbly, offering the essential tackle along with the key baits for the local fishing scene, but slowly began to grow in both stock and popularity. Soon services such as reel cleaning and custom rod building became staples of the shop, which continue unto this day.

Located approximately two hours from the world class saltwater sport fishing charters of San Diego Bay, it wasn’t long before Last Chance Bait and Tackle began building a saltwater fishing community by chartering its own deep sea fishing trips. The trips ranged from three quarter day to five day trips targeting everything from tuna, yellow tail and dorado down to the various inshore bass and rock fish species the waters offer. In time the popularity and growth of the shops saltwater fishing led to the first long range trips. With trips fifteen and eighteen days long chasing monster cow tuna, the knowledge, inventory and popularity of the shop continued to advance. The local bait and tackle shop had been born and grown out of its infancy, establishing itself within the community of bass tournament fishermen, saltwater fishermen and all fisherwomen alike.
 
It was with the construction of Southern California’s biggest and newest lake, Diamond Valley Reservoir that the shop was given another opportunity to expand. The lake began to fill in 1999 by which time the locals were already buzzing with excitement and mounting enthusiasm for the prospects the lake promised to offer the local outdoor recreation. California Department of Fish and Game estimates on the size and quality of fish, promised fishermen a lake unlike any they had fished before. Rumors about the exploding populations of virgin bass had anglers frenzied at the prospects of being first to wet a line. Before the gates opened on October 3, 2003 Last Chance had already moved to its second location to be closer to its new home water.
 
On September 1, 2006 Last Chance Bait and Tackle entered its latest stage of development when it was purchased by its current owners Dan and Megan Merchant. With the new owners came a renewal of the core commitments which made the shop great in the first place. Focused on being the best tackle shop they could make, both new owners made it their goal to learn everything about the shop, the customers, the community and especially the fishing styles they might never had experienced before. From the get-go the new owners of Last Chance understood what a unique set of lakes the Inland Empire had to offer, along with the vast numbers of unique and innovative fishing styles the sport of fishing potentially had.
 
 
Last Chance was in the privileged position of seeing anglers who had truly never been fishing before come into the shop wanting to learn. By teaching beginning anglers the tips and techniques to catching first, the importance of catch and release, by taking time to help at all levels of skill and sharing new baits with everyone. Last Chance truly helped support the local community and the sport of fishing. Of course with a tournament virtually every weekend on lakes across California and beyond, Last Chance had to meet the challenge of having the newest and most productive baits on hand or being able to get them quickly at competitive prices. The key priority of Last Chance was to be a shop which had the knowledge and inventory to meet the demands of high pressure waters; growth was the first priority. By 2008 it was obvious that the walls were just not built high enough to support the continual flow of new products. In 2009 we moved to our current location. Closer to the lake just so, but more importantly we gained the floor space we needed to keep doing what we do: work hard to be the best shop we can be.
 
Growth came in many forms. Our relationships with the local lakes grew. Our number of customers grew. Our involvement with local fishing tournaments grew. The most striking examples of all three can be experienced firsthand during our summer customer appreciation night tournaments at Diamond Valley Lake. The night tournaments began in 2010 as a means to give our less competitive customers the chance to enjoy one of the few night fishing experiences allowed on the lake. For a fourth the cost of a regular tournament, anglers could spend the night fun fishing or enter in a big fish and mystery weight fun tournament. The series was an outgrowth of the various charity tournaments sponsored by Last Chance and it’s vendors in association with major tournament circuits. These key community gathering activities were prompted by growth and in turn prompted growth.

Currently Last Chance is undergoing its next construction project as we get ready to break down yet another wall and expand once more. However, the most exciting expansion yet is not a new building or another wall waiting to be torn down; rather, it’s our goal to bring the virtues of the Last Chance experience to you. From the beginning the shops commitment to customer service and expansion led to growth and innovation. Whether it is bass, trout, tile fish or tuna, our commitment to the success of our customers and well being of our fisheries has brought the shop a long way. We hope to make Last chance your first choice.