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Area surfers honor Tom Turowski, "Mr. Sebastian Inlet" 

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Tom Turowski operated the Bait and Tackle Shop at Sebastian Inlet State Park for more than 30 years. He shared his knowledge with tens of thousands of visitors and was an avid angler, diver and surfer. 

On the morning of June 23, scores of surfers paddled out from the beach at Sebastian Inlet to honor one of the waterway’s unofficial ambassadors.

Tom Turowski, the friendly face at Sebastian Inlet’s bait and tackle shop for more than 30 years, passed away on May 26, 2024.

Turowski or “Tommy” as he was known to friends, was a Rhode Island native and Navy brat who grew up around the water. It was fitting that he forged a career within a few yards of one of the most popular fishing holes in Florida. For most of his career, Tommy worked seven days a week at the shop, sharing his inlet knowledge with tens of thousands of visitors who passed through the doors of the small, nondescript building on the north side of the Sebastian Inlet State Park. Turowski was an expert angler who provided fishing updates to several area news outlets, as well as the Sebastian Inlet District, for many years.

“Snookman” Wayne Landry, an unofficial inlet ambassador himself, described Turowski as a consummate fisherman who also dived and surfed in his younger years.

“I've known him for about as long as I have been fishing the inlet,” said Landry, who has fished the inlet for more than 50 years, volunteers at Sebastian Inlet State Park and provides the weekly Sebastian Inlet District fishing report. “He was an awesome fisherman, and loved to surf as well. You could always find him fishing on the beach or the jetty when he wasn't running the bait shop.”

Turowski wasn’t just an angler. His passion and knowledge for surfing and fishing the inlet extended to building custom fishing rods and hand-tying fishing flies, Landry recalled.

“He liked fly fishing on the beach,” Landry said. “All of his rods were self-made. He built for me a rod I’ve had for 12 years. I believe he even built a surfboard one time as well. He was a master at so many things.”  

Turowski, who worked 10 ½ hours a day for many years before hiring clerks to relieve him, was an inlet fixture, Landry said.

“In running the tackle shop, he was always there, no matter what the weather was at the inlet,” Landry said. “He ran a tight ship there, and was always helpful to the folks stopping in. He also loved diving the inlet when conditions were really nice, clean and calm water. He was a great guy, very knowledgeable and friendly and helpful! He will be missed by us all.”

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A 2014 Florida Today article profiling Tom Turowski  described him as "Mr. Sebastian Inlet."  


Group of people on a sandy beach with waves, tents, and overcast sky.
The Sebastian Inlet District webcam captured surfer gathered on June 13, 2024, to honor Tom Turowski. 

Posted on June 24, 2024.