When Savas Koutsantonis opened the doors to what has become the go-to destination for all things fishing in the Okanagan, it was much different than today’s trendy operation that welcomes anglers of all sorts through its doors everyday in Kelowna.
No, 20 years ago Koutstantonis opened Trout Waters Fly & Tackle in West Kelowna, operating a small, 600 square foot room inside of another business. It was the first of four locations for the company over the past 20 years as Trout Waters has expanded and grown from a quaint little fishing shop to an institution in the area’s angling scene: A place where you just have to stop before heading out on the water.
“It just slowly grew as people got to know us better,” said Koutsantonis of those early beginnings when he opened the doors with a couple of employees. “It’s always been about customer service. Bringing in what the customer wants.”
Trout Waters is celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend with special deals Friday (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.), Saturday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m to 3 p.m.).
From those early beginnings, Trout Waters Fly & Tackle evolved, not only with a change of scenery but also in the types of product it offers. Over the last two decades the shop has added more clothing and equipment and is a a full-service fishing shop/outfitter, offering products, services, and expert advice to the fishing public. It’s moved a few times and finally settled in its current location on Highway 97 with over 3,300 square feet of retail space. Its customer base extends throughout Canada, with a growing international presence and in recent years has seen an increase in both young people and with women anglers.
“We’ve got a lot bigger selection now,” said Koutsantonis, who also has seven employees. “We have customers from all over the Pacific Northwest. We’ve got a lot of specialty gear that attracts in new customers all the time.”
About 10 years ago, Koutsantonis was joined on the ownership side by Nick Pace and together the two are busy helping the fishing public find places to fish, learn how to cast or even take them out on a guided tour.
“We’ve become kind of like a destination for people,” sad Pace. “We’re noticing a lot of people coming in are from the Kamloops area or the Coast or the Kootenays. They come in to find out what’s happening. The most common question is what’s working and where?”
A recent and significant development at Trout Waters was the decision to become the Okanagan’s premium Patagonia retailer. Not only does the shop carry the full Patagonia line of fly fishing products, but they also carry a wide range of the brand’s popular men and women’s lifestyle apparel, including the alpine line of insulated clothing. One reason for the partnership with Patagonia was its firm commitment to the environment which is in line with Trout Water’s own philosophy.
Offering ladies clothing is another example of how the fishing clientele is changing, said Pace.
“There are more ladies interested in fishing,” he said. “We’re really trying to cater to them in terms of proper equipment: Boots and waders and having the proper sizing for ladies to make it more enjoyable and comfortable.”
Trout Waters Fly & Tackle is located at 2340 Highway 97 in Kelowna.