Great State: Big Al’s Bait Shop
ENID, OKLAHOMA — He casts his line wherever he can, whenever he can.
Alvin Frye Jr. lives for fishing, but his business success lies in other people fishing.
“Sinkers, jigs, doll flies,” he lists off while walking through his longtime bait shop.
Welcome to Big Al’s sinker and lure shop, tucked away on a residential street in north Enid.
Inside the house where he grew up, Alvin sells, floor to ceiling, everything anyone might need to catch something in Oklahoma waters.
“Trying to make a living,” says Al on a tour of his small shop.
What he calls his candy shop caters to people who want to make their own tackle.
One of Al’s newest inventions is a bell with a light on the end for night fishing.
“As soon as the catfish bites they light up and they ring,” Frye demonstrates.
Alvin is actually the second ‘Big Al’ to run this place.
The original Al broke his back in an industrial accident.
He bought this house with his insurance settlement and opened a bait shop on the front room.
Frye Jr. recalls, “I grew up here with a brother and two sisters. At one time or another we all did something.”
The original ‘Big Al’ taught his son to fish, of course. But he also taught him how to properly tie a good lure.
“This one here is a double spinner,” describes Al. “I don’t think there’s anybody who makes anything like this anymore.”
Most of the tackle dangling from the walls Al tied himself or painted himself over the winter.
“About 85 percent of it is made right here,” he claims.
He sleeps on the couch by the counter during the summer, taking care of customers at all hours.
If he’s not in the store he’s out back with the live bait.
There are tanks in the garage filled with different size shiners and shad, minnows and crawdads.
If Big Al doesn’t have it he knows where you can find it.
“It’s fun,” he says, “because you never know who’s going to call.”
The original Big Al passed away twenty years ago.
Alvin’s mom ran the shop for years until she passed too.
Their son just couldn’t let the place close so he retired early and came home.
Alvin Jr. says of his father, “It’s still his shop. I just run it.”
The ‘Big Al’ lives for fishing just like his dad did, whether he’s casting his own line or not.
Big Al’s Bait Shop is located on north Independence in Enid. He also built a great website to further describe what he makes and sells.