Starting a Bait Shop

Do you love to fish? Why not put your passion to good use by opening your own bait shop business? A bait shop is a very rewarding business and it gives you the opportunity to earn while doing something in line with your interest.

A bait shop business is perfect for people who love to fish.

Starting a business is hard work and venturing into an industry that you are genuinely interested will make the task more enjoyable for you.

Here are some pointers to help you start your very own bait shop.

Research. Research. Research. Your knowledge of fishing and baits will not suffice. You also need to learn the basics of business management. Here is a partial list of general management skills that you should learn: product pricing, customer service, sales planning/forecasting, marketing, bookkeeping, advertising, hiring & retaining employees, and so on.

Most important in bait business is to chose a name for your bait shop. Try to select a name that is uncommon and yet easy to remember. Try to choose a name that only has one to two syllables. Short names are said to bring better recall.

Find a location for your shop. Choose a place that is conveniently located and accessible to your target market. Aside from the location, another thing to consider is the size of the space. Keep in mind that you will be putting tanks there for your live bait. You will also need storage space for your other baits (typically kept in jars).

Establish your store policies. How will you run your store? What time will you open and what time will you close? Will you accept card payments? Will you be able to manage your store alone or do you need to hire an extra hand? These are only some of the questions you need to consider as you outline your store operating procedure.

Procure the equipment you will need. A minnow tank with at least six divisions or compartments is essential since bait shops typically sell at least six different kinds of minnows. You will also need coolers to keep your leeches, night crawlers, wigglers, and worms fresh. The capacity and number of coolers you must acquire will depend on the size of your bait shop operation.

Packaging your products will be much easier if you have plastic or Styrofoam containers on hand. Your containers must have lids to keep your baits intact. An 8 oz container fits about a dozen worms, leeches, and night crawlers. 12 to 16 oz containers on the other hand can fit close to two dozen. For night crawlers and worms, use plastic containers. For leeches, use Styrofoam containers. Do not forget to get worm bedding. It is not advisable to pack your baits with soil since most customers travel outside the country to fish.

Promote your bait shop. Put the word out a couple of months before you open your bait shop. The success of your business will rely on the number of customers you reel in and you won’t be able to reel them in unless you bait them with your advertising materials.

Finally, have the proper mindset. A successful bait shop owner is self-motivated and is not afraid to work long hours. He is adept at multi-tasking. He does not hesitate to make calculated decisions. He takes each setback as challenge and strives to fix the problem. He is committed to making his business work.

61 Comments

  • Kris said on May 21, 2009
    How would you start a floating bait store on a boat? What licensing would you need to do that in Florida?
  • fred brown said on December 2, 2009
    really i have locations in mind but how much to get started money wise. i would like to have leeches and worms, minnows, shiners, shrimp, turkey liver, chicken liver, fishing poles, etc....
  • Shelli Waugh said on December 6, 2009
    Texarkana, Texas. I already have a small bait shop and RV Park on out local lake. This is a bad time of the year to open, but a great time to start the planning process and preparing. If you check with local small distributors you may be able to keep your start-up down a little by asking to be set up on a consignment. Meaning as you sell the product you pay for it. That is how I started. My worm supplier was a big help! He does more than just worms.. and I found a local small business to work with for my rods and reels. Dont be afraid to ask for the credit and network with others who may have connections to friends or family that may have hobbies like lead weight making and jig tying to get the best deals on your stock.
  • Matt Keelin said on January 3, 2010
    Granite City, IL. I'm starting a mobile bait & tackle shop within Madison County IL. I was wondering what type of licensing I would need? I already have an enclosed trailer and a truck to pull it with. What would you suggest for the night crawlers. Small mini-fridge or large cooler with ice packs?
  • Rhonda J. Lee said on February 25, 2010
    152 oak street Columbus, IN 47201 Phone number (812) 376-7082 Lee's bait and tackle. I have a very well known bait and tackle shop. Me and my husband James R. Lee have owned it for 30 years. Our grandson said that we should mix the bible with or fishing business. Then to also spark up our passion. Passion is contagious. Go out and get people. To reach out with fishing, and God. So give me a call so we can get in touch with other businesses to get something started. Ecclesiastes 5:3 For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.
  • James Lott said on April 10, 2010
    coa coa fl. What kind of license do I need and how do I get them for starting a floating bait shop
  • verdiner wilson said on June 25, 2010
    i am interested to open a bait shop in tulsa, oklahoma USA
  • David Devault said on July 4, 2010
    i need to know how to obtain a bait license and what baits can you sell in ohio
  • Andre walther said on July 10, 2010
    I'm looking to start a floating bait shop in Lee county florida what kind of license do I need to get
  • Herman said on August 20, 2010
    This is my dream career. I need to know how much revenue bait shops usually do, as I have a family to support. Where can I go to obtain this information? I have looked everywhere, but I can find nothing on the potential income I can expect from this opportunity. Hopefully starting one in Edmond, OK/Oklahoma City, OK.
  • Michael Hernandez said on August 28, 2010
    I would like some help on starting a bait shop. if anyone has any info on how to get started please help.
  • jim said on September 13, 2010
    looking to launch a bait shop with rods n reels and accessories in a shore area of central NJ. any advice or comments toward a successful start up explaining costs would be greatly appreciated! thank you! i await all responses.- jim
  • Holly Vitchers said on September 22, 2010
    I am thinking about purchasing an existing bait/tackle shop/grocery store in a very popular trout/salmon fishing area near the great lakes in New York State. Is this a lucrative venture? I have marketing saavy and my husband is an avid fisherman and hunter. Can we support ourselves doing this? The shop seems to be quite busy when we've been there, but I know that most fishing is seasonal -
  • larry cassady said on October 17, 2010
    i want to startup a small bait and tackle store. How do i get my supply cheap to get started i am going to start it up at my house
  • Dan Rivas said on October 30, 2010
    I would like to open a bait shop very near to Red Rock Lake in Iowa. The nearest bait shop is 30 miles away. My daughter lives about 1 mile from the lake on the road leading to the lake and she has a big unused workshop that is available. What kind of minnows and bait would I need to carry ? I'm thinking since we are so close we can offer deliveries. All advise welcome. My e mail danrivas82@yahoo.com
  • Randy C said on March 31, 2011
    I have started a red worm business and I need some help in finding a wholesale company that sells the plastic or styrofoam containers to sell them in at a great price.
  • Shari Presnell said on April 7, 2011
    Do you need a special license to sell bait at our lake house? I have business number already for our state. Indiana
  • TK said on April 19, 2011
    I'm interested in building a bait store next to my liquor store. I need to know the basics of how to get started with Bait I love to fish but I am not educated on lures and what catches what...what supplies I need and how to know what brands are the best. St. Cloud, MN
  • Kristen L said on June 11, 2011
    I am interested in opening a bait shop in Sopchoppy, FL. I have done the research and to carry crickets and worms you do not need a FWC license. I also know you need an occup. license from the clerks office. Is there any other type of license needed? Also if you want to sell bait and other pre packaged goodies (i.e. candy cokes etc) do you need to go thought Dept of Agr and consumer serv? Thank you so much for your time
  • BigSun said on July 9, 2011
    I am currently in the military and soon to be getting out. I am very interested in starting a bait and tackle store in Port Austin Michigan where i am from. There currently is no bait and tackle shop in the area. It is a very good location, located right on Lake Huron with a nice marina there as well. What kind of start up capital am I looking at, and how much inventory should i start out with? This is what i have always wanted to do, and now that i am getting out of the military, it is the perfect opportunity to do so. Any help/info would be most helpful. Thank you, Christopher C. Sundblad
  • Danny said on September 3, 2011
    I have a goal,and checked around there is no real bait and tackle shops in my area and i am right next to two rivers and lots of streams.need help in knowledge of start up cost for my bait and tackle shop
  • Donna Bruner said on September 6, 2011
    I want to start a bait store in Haines City FL I live on a lake and have a canal right in back yard can you help me with licensing and what I will need
  • rich said on September 10, 2011
    I want to open a live bait shop in Conneaut Lake Pa, trying to find out what permits are needed and how much does it cost to start one up.
  • Sheri said on October 14, 2011
    I want to start a Mobile Bait Shop in Wisconson and Minnesota I would like to know where I can get a License and need to know what permits ect I will be needing and how much would it range for the cost of all of it I want to Start out as soon as December
  • ryan nappin said on November 27, 2011
    hi i live in southern mn i want to start a business selling bait food propane and maybe few ice fishing supplies i was wondering what kind of license i would need.
  • frances schaap said on February 16, 2012
    st thomas ont canada. hi can you tell me if i can sell bait from my home. like minnows .do i need a license and a permits thank
  • EVA said on February 22, 2012
    I WANT TO START MY OWN BAIT & TACKLE SHOP I NEED HELP. I LIVE IN SOUTHWEST GA. MITCHELL CO.PS. SHOW ME HOW.
  • David VanAuken said on February 27, 2012
    I want to start my own bait & tackle shop in Lake luzerne new york,I live in lake luzerene new york needing help to start,thank you Mr,VanAuken.
  • glenda mcclellan said on February 28, 2012
    I would like to start selling worms and minnows at our golf course since we are located near the river and no one has bait around us. How do I get in contact with bait suppliers?
  • Chris said on March 2, 2012
    I am about to start a bait store in Newton Kansas 67114 there is only 1 other bait store located 13 miles from lake, the main bait store only made 14,000 last season and had too high of overhead (ranger) salary to pay for itself. I will be located 3 miles from main vein with little overhead how do I start? how much should I invest. rent is very low and son will be working it for me.
  • bb said on April 12, 2012
    Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast there are only saltwater bait shops and those are rare. You have to be able to sell over 100 containers of bait a day to support a whole family with just this business. We do it because we love it, not to get rich and we have a Social Security check that actually pays our basic living expenses. We also have less overhead because we raise our own bait. When you buy wholesale you dont have the facilities to keep it alive very long so theres high waste. If I could make one good suggestion besides that its ADVERTISE. Online,yellow pages, yard signs, business cards, bulletin boards at campgrounds. I commit $100 a mo no matter what plus 2% of the previous months income to it.
  • Shannon Atchley said on April 12, 2012
    Huntsville, Al. We have the prime location within a mile from the river and not one bait within a 10 mile radius. Already have business license. Just need to know how to get inventory such as minnows, worms, floaters, line, artificial bait, crickets, etc....
  • donald beech said on April 15, 2012
    wyandot county ohio. what do i need to do to obtain a bait license and what kind of bait can i sell in ohio?
  • Perry said on May 2, 2012
    As many of you, the bait shop business is my dream as well. I have the location, the property, the drive; but little bait, lol. Good luck everyone. You can see my upstart business at: https://www.facebook.com/BlueFlyMarket.
  • Kelly said on June 8, 2012
    I just bought a bait shop on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway in columbus, Ms. I bought it from a lady that was NOT good in business and wanted out. I paid VERY little for all her inventory and I mean very little. The location is a PRIME location as we are directly on the River and we are set up to sell gas. There is a boat ramp, gas and it is also a small RV park with full setups. Everything you need on the River. We have since remodeled. I did all my signs myself since I had a sign shop already. We were able to do everything in as little as 3 days from buying it. This includes all our licenses. We are setup for Credit Cards as well. We serve food on the weekends and starting this weekend we will be renting Sports Tubes. We also sell Beer and Ice and Live Bait which lucky for us was already setup here. Within 2 weeks we made everything we put in back. It didn't hurt that our 1st weekend was Memorial Weekend. Now 4th of July is coming up and the guy that owns the RV park is putting a huge fireworks show on. We are also a small convenience store secluded from town. We are 9 miles from the nearest convenience store 16 miles from the nearest grocery store. We are 4 miles from Pickensville Al which great for us is a DRY county. I am scared to death but hoping for the best.
  • Maxwell said on August 1, 2012
    I'd like to start a bait shop in Durham CT. Have a good location with high traffic. Feel free to email me with some good ideas mad.max@snet.net
  • Mike said on September 23, 2012
    I know this string is a bit dated but nevertheless I am looking to enter my retirement years working my own Bait and tackle shop too, in the Florida Keys area. My business plan has slowed down to a crawl over the Market analysis and Balance Sheet. If anyone is willing to share a recent or working business plan, I would be forever beholdened. v/r Mike. mudnmike@yahoo.com
  • Justin Bunn said on January 27, 2013
    Opening a bait shop in Linden, Tx. Never had a business before, got any advice. bunnjustin@ymail.com
  • Eric J. Mostaert said on February 3, 2013
    I have 3 great locations in Iowa that are in need of bait stores. All located within less than a mile of multiple streams rivers and lakes. nearest comp. Is more than 15 to 20 miles from all three locations. I have knowledge of running a small business, and knowledge of fishing, rod n reel repair, and the drive and determination to make this a great business venture. just need investors to make the dream a come alive. if interested pleases contact me
  • cindy said on March 17, 2013
    I have a bait shop that is open right now. I sell live bait i don't have the money to buy other stuff can any one no of anything thanks
  • Matt Ward said on March 18, 2013
    I want to start a bait shop in Geneva Alabama I don't what kind of business license I would have to have to start this business but i'm only 16 years old
  • George White said on April 2, 2013
    Sumter, SC 29150. I have started raising red worms and would like to know how I can provide my crop to wholesalers?
  • Tim said on April 29, 2013
    I was wondering all I need to start a bait shop in pasco county fl. What lic I need to get
  • Angela Reed said on July 1, 2013
    Thinking to buy a bait and tackle store on Tybee Island. Can you tell what type of License I might need other than a county business license. Thanks
  • natasha said on July 9, 2013
    Am thinking about starting a floating bait n snack shop on the Mississippi between Minnesota and Wisconsin... mostly in the lake pepin area and I was wondering what type of license(I'm a MN resident) is needed and what is the average income I could expect?
  • Jeff said on November 15, 2013
    I am looking for a business partner for that wants to own a Bait & Tackle shop in Boca Raton Florida that has the funds to stock the store with the product we would need. I already have a lease for a perfect location and all the licenses we need to have.
  • Jeff said on November 16, 2013
    Just posted previous comment about looking for a investor if you are interested my email is bocabaitandtackle@gmail.com professional knowledge of fishing is not necessary I am looking for a financial partner.
  • Todd Anderson said on January 13, 2014
    do you need a LICENSE or permit to sell worms in Florida.
  • Sheri Dustin said on February 12, 2014
    Munford Alabama does anyone know a good cheapest place to order supplies for bait/feed store.
  • nicholas j zbikowski said on June 16, 2014
    south ga would like information on bait and tackle suppliers
  • jake belcher said on September 29, 2014
    i am wondering how long it would be in collage to get my business. i plan to open a floating bait shop.
  • raven said on October 6, 2014
    i am doing a school project on creating your own business and i am creating a bait shop. what registrations and license will i need to do so?
  • raven said on October 6, 2014
    i live in aurora indiana
  • josh sapp said on March 25, 2015
    I would like to start a small bait shop in westville Il what kind of license would I need and could I run it out of my house for now
  • Bobby Mercado said on May 8, 2015
    I would like to open a small bait shop in Knoxville Tennessee. What kind of licenses do I need to get and what is the first steps of opening my new store?
  • Hal Hall said on May 21, 2015
    I'm thinking of opening a bait shop bit I would like to get wholesale prices to see if its worth it. Every wholesaler website wants your I'd number but I don't have a resale license yet. I would like to know some prices before I make a decision. Does anyone know how I could get some info on wholesale prices.
  • William Meadows said on August 9, 2015
    Worms and Crickets can be shipped anywhere except where restricted -- Fish will only be shipped within the State of Florida.
  • Karen said on August 19, 2015
    I am very interested in opening up a bait shop in Louisiana. I live directly across the street from a lake and RV park and in this area (within 45 minutes or so) there is no bait shops at all. People go from convenience to store convenience stores to shop for worms, crickets, etc., along with Walmart for gear. I have a two car garage with lots of unused storage, which I know would be beneficial. I'm also raising my own worms, which are currently breeding like crazy...this I am hoping is going to save me lots of money investing in worms. I realize that I will need other things, but how, or where do I obtain wholesale prices for those things to get me started up. I already have people very interested in my starting this up, stating that we need a bait store around here.
  • Harley Creekmore said on September 8, 2015
    I would like to start up shop fixing reels and cleaning them as well I live in Pasadena Tx about a hour or two from the Gulf
  • Brent said on February 19, 2016
    I want to open a bait and tackle store in winfield kansas but am not sure how to get started where I can get live baits as well as rods and reels at a wholesale cost.
  • Dave beginner adviser said on November 29, 2016
    You have to realize this is a business that will take all your time, the profit margin is not there so you cant just hire people to run it for you. You need to be ready to work 10 to 12 hour days 7 days a week and need to be fully prepared to be in the red the first year or two and possibly 3 years. You get up at 5 or 6 in the morning to go collect your minnows or go after supper the day before, you need to sort them all out and get the water changed and so on all as soon as you can. Bait shop is not enough to keep you going especially with all the massive bass pro and cabelas out there. For example if shop is large enough maybe you can separate portion of it and provide service of buthering moose properly for people (about 98% of people do this wrong and most of butchers butcher moose like a cow which is why moose taste so bad with some people), can provide sausage making and jerky making services or fish smoking services. All these will help increase income. You can even have a trap line during the slow winter months. It's a lot of work and you don't have a life but you get to do what you like and you don't have to report to some power hungry idiot of a boss. After maybe 8 to 10 years things get easier, you can be in a position to hire one or two good employees and be able to pay enough so they don't leave for better paying job. The funny thing is as much as you like fishing and hunting which is what leads you to this, you get very little time to actually do it when running a business like this.

    dave_courtois@hotmail.com || Bait Shop Expert

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