Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Bait shortage hampering area tackle shops

By Marcus White
Posted 5/16/19

REGIONAL - Trying to find bait for your weekend fishing trip? You might be stuck digging your own worms.

Area bait shops are running low on minnows and other common bait as lakes in the area have …

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Bait shortage hampering area tackle shops

Posted

REGIONAL - Trying to find bait for your weekend fishing trip? You might be stuck digging your own worms.

Area bait shops are running low on minnows and other common bait as lakes in the area have been slow to warm after the winter thaw.

“Every year bait keeps getting tougher and tougher to get,” Vermilion Food and Fuel owner Terry Wagoner said. “A lot of the commercial places that are raising suckers and minnows are facing freeze-out problems.”

Vermilion Food and Fuel in Tower ran out of bait over the weekend opener, according to Wagoner, but has since restocked.

Captain Russ, who owns Babe’s Bait Shop near Ely said lake temperatures are running 10 degrees below average for this time of year. The shop doesn’t rely on wholesalers to obtain their bait, but instead his staff maintains their own traps on area ponds and streams.

While Babe’s has been able to keep itself supplied, Russ said it’s taken twice as much work as usual with employees having to go out every day instead of as needed. Russ said they’re also hitting double the number of ponds as they normally would this time of year.

“The temperature variations have been putting baits deeper where they can’t be trapped,” Russ said. “Snowfall last week didn’t help.”

For Wagoner, the weather isn’t the only thing hampering his efforts to obtain bait.

He said problems with invasive species in the southern part of the state have meant tougher restrictions on wholesalers, some of whom have left the business as a result.

“It’s really put a crimp on the gathering of bait,” he said.

Wagoner added that in many cases shops can’t buy from local kids and hobbyists as they once did because of DNR restrictions, and have come to rely heavily on wholesalers or taking the time to catch their own.

There is hope for anglers coming north, however.

“I think once the temperatures stabilize, it should improve,” Russ said, “and the fish are biting, so people are getting fish.”

Until the situation improves, both Wagoner and Russ recommend calling your preferred local bait shop before stopping in to see how much bait they still have on hand. In the meantime, keep your shovel handy.

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