Louisiana outdoor treasures: Gus’ Tackle & Nets

The doors of Gus’ Tackle and Nets have been passed through by countless fishermen of all kinds and ages.

Tackle demand changes historic bait store, creaky floors and all

While Louisiana’s outdoor heritage is abundant with unique tackle shops, it’s hard to find one with a better story than the one told by Gus Maggiore Jr. of Gus’ Tackle & Nets.

This very old shop with its creaky wooden floors has served Slidell for decades and is the end result of Gus Maggiore Sr.’s net making business that began in the garage of their home in Chalmette.

Gus Maggiore helps a customer with his reel.

The bait and tackle store is located at 726 Old Spanish Trail in Slidell and is truly a one of a kind tackle shop — creaky wooden floors and all!

“Dad would make trawls out of the house in the summers for additional income,” said Gus, Jr.

After moving to Slidell, “Trawls by Gus,” which was the original name of the business, began to grow. In June of 1986, the family rented a building on Hwy 11 near Lake Pontchartrain.

“We were doing alright there but the rent kept going up, so I decided I needed to do something.”

An opportunity to purchase an old wooden building on Old Spanish Trail presented itself and after months of cleaning, the doors opened in January of 1989.

As the net business brought in more and more fisherman, Maggiore started selling fishing lures.

“Back then it was just a few brands we sold: H&H, Toledo Tackle, Bass Assassin, Eagle Claw, Bullet weights and Culprit,” Maggiore said. “That’s pretty much all they had back then.”

The demand for tackle slowly overtook the net business and Maggiore knew a name change was in order.

In 1993 Gus’ Tackle and Nets was born. And it’s still here today.

Tiffany Taylor scoops up a net full of shiners for a customer.

Since then the shop has become a reflection of local anglers’ needs by stocking exactly what local anglers are asking for on the Northshore. Gus’ offers minnow traps, crawfish nets, test trawls, cast nets, and crab traps, however, my favorite thing about Gus’ is their reel cleaning and repair, which has always been a staple of the shop.

Route 22 Gas & Bait is another popular spot. Located on the banks of the Tchefuncte River on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, the old town of Madisonville has still managed to keep its nostalgic charm. Gary Bettencourt owns Route 22 Gas & Bait and said it’s that small town charm that he wanted to mimic when he created his business.

“I wanted Route 22 to be unique in the way that this town is,” Bettencourt said.

The building is adorned with memorabilia and collectibles from the 50’s and with Elvis Presley playing over the speakers, I just have to smile every time I visit this bait shop. Route 22 carries diesel and three grades of non-ethanol gas which is, needless to say, popular with the local fisherman.

“From day one we’ve carried non-ethanol fuel,” Bettencourt said.

They also carry crickets, red worms, nightcrawlers, and shiners, which perfectly suits the needs of the fishing community along the Tchefuncte River. Route 22 Gas & Bait is located at 201 Hwy 22 West in Madisonville and is truly a blast from the past for bait, tackle and gas.

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