Bait shop bonanza

Hooks, weights, leaders, yo-yo’s, corks, stringers, fishing rods, reels, frog gigs, nets, paddles and artificial lures are a few things found at bait shops. The list could go on. (Photo by Andy Douglas)

You have seen the sign in a window or fastened to a building.

Live Bait.

Have you ever taken time to stop? What is it, and what’s inside? We’re talking about bait shops.

There is usually one in every small town and likely one at your favorite lake near the entrance or boat launch. Go inside; there’s a variety of things for sale, but some things there cannot be bought.

Hot commodities

You guessed it: the No. 1 seller at a bait shop is live bait. It can’t be beat when it comes to catching fish, and it won’t break the bank.

“My best sellers are red worms for bream and minnows for crappie, and we are selling a lot of crickets too,” said Wayne Ashmore, owner of Blue Bayou Bait Shop in Brookhaven, Miss.

In similar shops, you will see big tanks with aerators holding minnows, shiners or goldfish. You will likely hear crickets chirping when you enter. There will be small containers full of black dirt and worms on shelves.

It’s in the freezer

The refrigerators and freezers are full of bait too, the kind you won’t find in a typical sporting goods store.

“People come in looking for the best catfish bait they can get,” said Ashmore, “Skipjack (herring) and rooster livers are what anglers are looking for the most. I have a good supplier for both and keep them on hand.”

Frozen catalpa worms, refrigerated chicken livers, shrimp and shad are a few more things that can be purchased. What’s found usually depends on the time of year and what fish in the area are biting.

Other things

At bait shops, there’s usually a variety of things you may need. Many sell gas and ice. Some sell food, drinks and short-order meals. If you need fishing line, you can find it there. If you are at the lake and forgot something — go to the bait shop; they are likely to have something to get you by.

Crickets are a hot commodity for anglers seeking big bluegills. Wayne Ashmore, owner of Blue Bayou Bait Shop of Brookhaven, Miss., loads up a cricket cage. (Photo by Andy Douglas)

Hooks, weights, leaders, yo-yo’s, corks, stringers, fishing poles, reels, frog gigs, nets, paddles and artificial lures are a few more things found here. The list could go on and on.

“I keep a good stock of classic lures like Slater’s jigs, Betts Spins, jig spinners, and H&H spinnerbaits; the white H&H is my favorite,” Ashmore said.

Not for sale

The best thing you can find at a local bait shop cannot be bought; it’s absolutely free: information and conversation. Often, the one person you see working at bait shops will be the owner — usually a seasoned fisherman or woman. They’ve been selling bait and can let you know what other anglers have been buying and catching fish with.

“I get people coming in and asking questions like: ‘What’s the bream biting? What’s the best catfish bait? What’s the bass doing now?’ Or, ‘Where can I go to get on some crappie?’ I get a few phone calls too, and I will tell them what I know,” Ashmore said.

Always be courteous when shopping; this will help you get the info you need.

Why not stop?

The next time you’re riding by and see the Live Bait sign, stop in and check it out. It’s guaranteed that they could use your business, and it will be appreciated. Whether it’s the live bait or the information, either or both will help you catch your creel.

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About Andy Douglas 13 Articles
Andy Douglas is an outdoor writer and photographer from Brookhaven, Miss. A native of Lincoln County, he’s chased deer, turkeys, bass and most anything else the past 35 years. He lives the outdoor lifestyle and is passionate about sharing that with others through stories and photos.

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