Culture / Sporting Life

Fishing and Outdoor Mecca Picks Fort Worth For Its First Flagship Store — Your First Look at Karl’s Fishing

Get Ready For the Bassmobile and Plenty of River Fun in WestBend

BY // 06.15.22

Something fishy is going on at Fort Worth’s WestBend. Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors is opening its first-ever brick-and-mortar store in the development at 1621 River Run. Created for both novice and seasoned anglers alike, Karl’s Fishing started as a direct-to-consumer digital platform. Now, it is marking a new chapter with the opening of this immersive  store.

Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors’ bright 2,500-square-foot storefront is located on the Tyler’s side of the Fort Worth shopping center.

The WestBend development just so happens to sit along the Trinity Trails, and the banks of the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, which is perfect for such a great outdoors mecca. Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors plans to host fishing lessons and meetups, including special events and entertainment, that capitalize on its setting.

On one of its first expeditions on the Trinity River, Karl’s Fishing staff tells PaperCity Fort Worth that their group caught five different species of fish.

Special Texas merchandise like these Googan Squad Contenders can be found at the new Karl’s Fishing store. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Everything I know about fishing, I learned from my stepson. During the early days of the pandemic our then 18-year-old embarked on a new hobby out of sheer necessity. The last half (what should have been the best half) of his senior year had been forfeited to COVID-19. His varsity baseball season got scrapped, just as it was getting underway.

In desperation he went all in on a solitary, socially distanced sport ― spending hours on end, alone on the banks of our neighborhood creek learning his craft, (and side stepping the occasional water-moccasin I later learned).

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The term “social fishtancing” was coined, because so many others grabbed a rod and dusted off their tackle box right around the same time. Fishing is back in a big way. For my stepson, who is about to enter his junior year in college, it has become way more than a hobby. It’s a way of life ― he has the scruffy beard to prove it.

Those black and white images of a father and son hoisting their cane poles over their shoulders in a town called Mayberry have given way to modern tech, way-cool fishing gadgets and state-of-the-art equipment.

The Real Lure ― A Peek Inside the New Karl’s Fishing

By combining retail with engaging, hands-on training, the new Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors store features interactive, tech-enabled experiences that demonstrate how products are used to catch fish. Including interactive displays that let you touch and feel various baits and see how they act underwater.

Teeg Stouffer, director of retail experience at Catch Co., showed me around Karl’s new Fort Worth flagship store.

At Karl’s Fishing you can touch and feel the lures and even see how thy look underwater. )Photo by Courtney Dabney)

“We took the lures out of the packaging, so customers could touch and feel them,” Stouffer tells PaperCity Fort Worth.

Each lure is now attached to the wall display. When you touch one and pull it away from the wall, it activates a video tutorial specific to that product. Shoppers can choose from a variety of leading brands such as The Googan Squad, BioSpawn, 10,000 Fish, HUK, Shiman, Daiwa and Lew’s.

“It’s an easy way to showcase the product, and even see how it behaves underwater,” Stouffer says. “That’s what fishermen are interested in. We also work with locally and regionally famous makers. But our Mystery Tackle Box is by far our biggest seller.”

If you are not familiar with Mystery Tackle Box, it is essentially a sampler of lures which can now be purchased as a gift for yourself (or someone else) right off the shelf, or as a recurring subscription. Some boxes even come with a prize inside.

Stouffer notes that they once put a Golden Ticket inside a box that could be redeemed for a boat. Really. You just never know what you’ll find inside.

The famous Mystery Tackle Boxes can be found along the back wall. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Stouffer wants the Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors flagship store to be “an intimidation-free shopping experience. Even for those who are new to fishing and outdoor activities.”

Karl’s Fishing is stocked with every item you need to get outdoors and catch some fish. From rods, reels, tackle, kits, tools and fly fishing gear to kayaks, apparel and outdoor lifestyle items.

“When we started Catch Co. 10 years ago, our goal was to help people discover quality products that would help them get outside and enjoy nature,” says Ross Gordon, founder and CEO of Catch Co., Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors’ parent company.

“While Catch Co. is based out of Chicago, Fort Worth is a fishy city,” Stouffer tells PaperCity. “With our online sales, we can see where our customers live. And we have a lot in the DFW area.”

The storefront will host a variety of grand opening events, starting with the ribbon cutting, set for this Thursday, June 16. It will be hosted by none other than Karl Von Dibble, Karl’s chief fishing officer and the brand’s larger-than-life personality. He’ll be the one wearing his waders.

Karl Von Dibble, Karl’s chief fishing officer will be in Fort Worth for the Karl’s Fishing opening. If you know, you know. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Influencers and fishing celebrities will also make appearances, and Karl’s eye-catching Bassmobile, a 40-foot bass on wheels, will be on-site to add to the fun opening weekend, beginning this Thursday.

“Our mission is to rescue people from the indoors,” Stouffer says. “There are a lot of people here who are game to get outside.”

Karl’s Fishing plans to open more new stores too. A second store is planned for Mall of America in Minneapolis, with plans for an opening later this year. Until then, Fort Worth is ground zero in the fishing world with WestBend catching a big fish of its own.

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