FORT WALTON BEACH — Two local rival charter fishing couples joined forces to open a new bait and tackle shop.

Emerald Coast Bait and Tackle, located at 232 B Eglin Parkway N.E., offers an array of lures and bait "historically successful" in the Gulf of Mexico. Shelby and Chris Kirby, owners of Destin Inshore Charters, and Josh and Anna Calhoon, owners of Destin Inshore Guides, opened the shop three weeks ago after realizing a need for more expert-owned bait shops in the area.

"Josh called and said he was opening a tackle shop," Shelby said. "He said he didn't think he wanted a partner at first, but then thought we'd be a good fit. We thought we could make it work because we're all fishermen. We know what people need."

The owners originally planned to open Emerald Coast Bait and Tackle in Destin, but high real estate prices prompted them to move west to Fort Walton Beach.

"And most of the inshore guides live in Fort Walton Beach," Chris added. "So, we wanted a central location for the inshore guides to come and get all their stuff for the charter boats."

Emerald Coast Bait and Tackle, according to the Kirbys, will also have a charter fisherman in-house to offer advice to customers about fishing in the Gulf. The shop, in addition to standard bait, offers fly-fishing gear and live bait like shrimp and eels.

"People are always asking us every day about where to go and what to do, so we wanted to have more of a hands-on place," Chris said. "You can order tackle online, but you don't get the local knowledge."

"When someone comes in the door, whether they are recreational fishermen who just does it on the weekends or charter boats that fish 180 days straight, we're going to have what they need," Shelby added. "They will know they can come here every single time and they will have it."