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In the Easy Chair with Declan Thomas O’Donnell

NAME: Declan Thomas O’Donnell.

AGE: 23.

OCCUPATION: Owner/manager of Breachway Bait and Tackle and manager of Shelter Cove Marina.

RESIDENCE: Charlestown.

BORN, RAISED & GREW UP IN: I grew up in Southwick, Mass., and did a lot of camping in the summer when I was younger. Then, about 15 years ago, my parents bought a cottage in Charlestown, and this place is all I have known in the summer since.

RIGHT NOW I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF: Taking over a business while maintaining my current role at Shelter Cove Marina.

MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Doing well in school and always pursuing something I was passionate about.

TOP ON MY BUCKET LIST: Take a road trip around the U.S. or get helicopter-dropped and ski down a mountain. I've already traveled a decent amount but I feel like there is a lot to see in our country and I believe it would be a great experience.

I ALWAYS CARRY/WEAR: Something blue, a hat and my wallet.

WHAT I WANTED TO BE WHEN I GREW UP: I always thought of myself as an entrepreneur and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

MY HEROES ARE: My grandfather, Daniel O'Donnell. He was born and raised in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland.

FAVORITE AUTHORS: I’m not a favorites guy. I like a lot of things, but to say something is my favorite doesn't make sense ... everything can be good under its own light.

BOOKS ON MY NIGHT STAND: "The Old Man and the Sea."

TOP THREE SONGS ON MY PLAYLIST: Honestly I don't have a playlist. I listen to what is on the radio or what Alexa puts on when I tell her to play Coldplay Radio.

LAST THREE SONGS I ASKED ALEXA/PANDORA/SPOTIFY TO PLAY: I didn't ask her to play any specific song. Some artists I like to listen to are Avicii and Oliver Tree.

FAVORITE THREE MOVIES OF ALL TIME: I like a lot of movies but they are all so different I couldn't pick three.

FAVORITE TV SHOWS: "Shark Tank," "Meat Eater" and "Family Feud."

FAVORITE RADIO STATION/SHOWS/PODCAST: I'll listen to Joe Rogan on long car rides. It's interesting to hear the views from different people and the different paths they have taken.

TOP COMFORT FOOD: I love to cook, and cooking for other people tends to bring me more comfort than eating what someone else has made.

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES I MOSTLY USE: I use Instagram the most between my personal, fishing and business accounts.

TRAITS I MOST ADMIRE: Creativity, bluntness, common sense.

PET PEEVES: Watching time pass being stuck somewhere ... watching time go by when there's nothing you can do about it — and having to book an appointment for a hair cut. What happened to being able to show up and get your hair cut (COVID)?

FAVORITE QUOTATION: "If you don't have time to do it right when will you have time to do it over."

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT OUR LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD: How my connection to the environment around me makes people drawn to me and makes me feel connected to my community.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: Interaction with the natural environment around me.

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT ME: I've flown a plane, been to Ireland twice, went to Indonesia, have skydived and can belly dance.

BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED: Work to live don't live to work.

ADVICE I BEST LIKE TO GIVE: Be present in the moment ... both in life and when fishing.

IF I RULED THE WORLD I WOULD: Increase nuclear energy in order to allow us to convert to renewable energy in an environmentally safe way.

IF I WON THE LOTTERY, THE FIRST THING I WOULD DO IS: Say "Wow, I won the lottery," then make some very smart investments.

I DRIVE A: Black 2008 Toyota Tundra.

I WISH I DROVE A: 2022 Toyota Tundra.

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE: Busch light, jalapenos, ranch, sausage, bacon, chicken and some sort of cheese.


— Interview arranged and edited by Nancy Burns-Fusaro

The Breachway Bait & Tackle Manager / Owner:

 Declan O'Donnell highlighted in On The Water! 

Click here to read more

The Breachway Bait & Tackle

was just voted TOP 3 Bait and Tackle shop in Rhode Island!

Click here to read more

Previous owner Dave Hess from 2016-2021

Located at 166 Charlestown Beach Road, the store was previously owned by Ronald Mouchon, a fishing charter boat captain, and his wife, Karleen, from 1993 to 2016. Captain Ron, as he was known, died unexpectedly on July 5, 2015. After his death, Karleen Mouchon ran the shop until selling it to Hess last December.

As a 35-year customer of the shop, Hess knows he has large waders to fill.

“My family had a place down on the beach here for 25 years and we sold that in 2006 and I’ve been renting places every summer since then,” he said. “This place is a hub, it’s iconic in the community — I’m meeting so many people, charter captains to commercial fisherman to really avid, local recreational fishermen, guys in boats, surfcasters, visitors and tourists.”

Because he wanted customers to have a feeling of continuity, Hess has kept the same name, phone number and look to the place, but he’s also using modern methods to attract business, like social media and technology. “We’re also adding more state-of-the-art fishing apparel and gloves and new lines of lures,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said for the old standby stuff, but why not try some a few new things, so we’re trying a combination of enhancements.”

The local fishing community is very tight-knit and has been welcoming and helpful, he said.

“They come and congregate here — sometimes I think it’s the clubhouse for the fishing crew. It really is a fun business from that standpoint,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be a part of that and to give some continuity to the community.”

After a long career as a corporate IT systems engineer, Hess said he wasn’t intending to reinvent himself, but when the opportunity to buy the shop appeared, he realized it was a way to combine the place he loved with his favorite hobby.

“We love Charlestown and this area and I wasn’t looking to do this but it kind of came along, but when I took a closer look, the better it looked,” he said. “I look at it almost as a garden — perhaps I can make this thing blossom a little more, give it some care and attention and make it great.”

Having moved to the house on the shop’s property, Hess, who had been living in New Hartford, Conn., said his four grown children were thrilled he had relocated to Charlestown.

“All my kids grew up going to the beach here, and it’s a lifestyle change for me to be here permanently,” he said.

It’s not as quiet as the family’s old cottage on the beach, he said, but every day he’s expanding his knowledge about fishing.

“You can be standing here and 10 minutes from now eight guys could be in here talking about what’s happening in the fishing grounds out there,” he said. “It’s kind of neat — it’s an information hub, so I’m learning a lot.”

Beginning on Memorial Day, Breachway Bait & Tackle will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 401-364-6407.

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