Couple melds bait, tackle with hot food for pleasurable fishing experience
By BRYAN GALLEGOS
DCH Staff Writer
“Cheese burger and a side order of worms to go, please.”
“Hot dog with extra leaches.”
“Can of pop and a cup of minnows.”
Sound like something out of “The Walking Dead,” right? Well, it’s not. You can get all that at Skip’s Bait Box and Concessions at the Little Missouri Recreation Area north of Dunn Center.
Shawn Willis and his wife Kylene of Dunn Center opened the little shop at the mouth of the boat launch on Memorial Day Weekend. And they’ve becoming accustomed to those unusual combination, even if some are in jest.
“We’ve heard it all,” chuckled Willis. “We’re doing this for the locals.”
Working out of a red fifth-wheel that is parked at the mouth of the boat launch offer hot food and cold drinks and bait and tackle for would-be boaters and fishers. This service is provided from Thursday evening to Sunday evening, Shawn said.
“I’ve heard so many stories from locals of how it used to be down here. I want to get it back like it was,” Shawn said, while cooking a couple of hamburgers on his over-sized George Foreman grill.
Decades ago there used to be tackle shops and concessions and other amenities that made fishing and boating much more pleasurable. Those services were discontinued and recreationists were forced to bring their own food, drinks and bait and tackle.
“People talk about what it was like years ago, and they get this look in their eyes and smile. I want that smile back,” he said.
The concession stand menu is limited to comfort food such as: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, brats, nachos, breakfast burritos and biscuits and gravy. They have cold soda and water in over-sized ice chests. There’s also ice cream and popsicles available.
And on the other side of the aisle, they sell lures and all sorts of tackle, including hooks, swivels, crawler harnesses, worms, leaches and minnows.
“It’s been so-so so far. We’ve had some good day and some not-so-good day,” Shawn said.
He expects things to pick up when people learn they don’t have to haul in all that gear to have fun.
One boater, dressed for a day on the lake, carried a cooler of drinks in one arm, a bag of munchies in the other and a back pack of other goodies. Her husband followed with a couple fishing rods, and two tackle boxes.
“This is a great day for time on the water,” the lady said, looking over to the concession stand. “Next time, we won’t bring all this stuff. We can just go there (to the stand).”
Another couple stepped to the concession stand before they headed for the boat launch. They were a couple wise guys looking to squash their hunger with some food and some jocularity.
“How are the leaches today?” one joked.
Another customer turned and said: “They’re good if you get them medium rare.”
They both laughed. So did Shawn.
They settled for a couple of cheese burgers, chips and two cold pops. They sat in the shade and gobbled their grub in surprising silence.
“This was good,” the joker said. “We’re going to have to come back.”
“Still want those leaches?” his bubbled his buddy.
While others may joke about the services, Shawn and Kylene are serious about their new venture at the lake. However, their initial idea was to open a bait and tackle shop and pup that offers food in Dunn Center. But there were alerted of the potential for similar services – except for the pub part – at the lake.
“It just came up and we decided, ‘yeah, let’s do it,’” Shawn said.
The couple has set up a Facebook page and gives updated fishing reports based their conversations with those coming off the water. Plans are also in the works for a fishing tournament over Labor Day Weekend with the proceeds going to the Rape and Crisis Center, Toys for Tots or local Food Bank.
“We just want to have things available that make it more pleasurable for fishing,” Shawn said.