In the mid-1950’s when Lonnie Dooley started a modest tackle stand selling nightcrawlers and minnows out of a simple cement vat, he never dreamed his business would go as far as it has. 

Over four decades later, Dooley’s Sport Shop near Lexington SC maintains its family tradition of selling tackle and enjoys one of the finest reputations in the area. 

“It’s been a family affair since daddy started it,” says Charles Dooley, current owner of the shop.  “Me and five siblings came up through the shop and when daddy passed away in 1971, I took over.”

Located just off U.S. 378, Dooley’s offers a staggering amount of tackle, food, live bait and practically anything else an angler might need for a day on the lake.  Beyond the basics, the shop has truck rentals, fishing and hunting licenses and kitchenette that specializes in hot dogs, barbecue and quick-service sandwiches. 

For the die-hard fisherman, Dooley’s opens 30 minutes before sun-up on the weekends. 

“If you’re running a business like this, you’ve got to be there for the people,” Charles Dooley says.  “We take turns with the early morning shifts so it’s not so bad.  But you’ve got to be open for those people who start early.”

Many agree that the family’s eagerness to assist fishermen in a genetic call to arms.  While Charles Dooley and his brothers and sisters learned the trade for their father, they since have passed the baton to their own children. 

Charles’ kids – David, Patrice and Monte – have all worked in the store.  Monte Dooley still works there full-time and says it’s by no means forced child labor. 

“We know practically everyone who comes in here but it’s always nice to meet the different people and the folks who just drop by,” Monte Dooley says.  “We just enjoy cutting up with everybody.” 

Whether you’re a friend or a stranger in town, the staff at Dooley’s Sport Shop has the reputation of knowing Lake Murray.  If you come in for fresh thermos of coffee, you’ll leave knowing what’s biting, where they’re biting and an extended weather forecast. 

Dooley’s also offers private and corporate charter fishing trips with local guides. 

Besides the professional guides, the food, and the homey atmosphere and the bounty of available fishing gear, the Dooley family and its eagerness to serve the public is what makes this tackle shop unique.

“Our granddaughter Brianne is already anxious to help out,” says bookkeeper Barbara Dooley, who is Charles’ wife. 

Other evidence of the family’s dedication to Lake Murray includes a number of mounted bass, victory plaques, trophy bucks and a 28-pound striper hauled in by Monte Dooley.

One of the bass was caught by Brianne.  “We mounted it for her and were going to put it up in the house  but she wouldn’t have it,” Barbara Dooley says.  “She wanted it mounted in the shop.”

Dooley’s is the informal headquarters for the Carolina Classic Bass Masters, and as a result, the family anticipates another busy summer.  The Dooley family wouldn’t want it any other way.         


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