Washington Street Bait at 207 E. Washington in Montezuma opened its doors in January 2019 and owners Bret and Charyl Warden couldn’t be more pleased.
“There have been people from Minnesota, Waterloo, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids purchase bait here,” said Bret. “One guy stopped from McGregor, in northeast Iowa, and another came from Omaha.”
The bait shop is on now listed on Google Maps and Bret said that it has taken his business to the next level.
“You can be four hours from here and search bait shops near Montezuma and it will bring up my shop,” he said.
Bret said the idea to open a bait shop in Montezuma came to him while participating in an ice fishing tournament on Lake Iowa near Williamsburg.
“We had good ice and people said they were having trouble finding bait,” he said.
Seeing a need, Bret, who works for the City of Montezuma and is a volunteer on the Montezuma Fire Department, came home and told Charyl that he was opening a bait shop.
The next day, Bret stopped and visited with Larry and Pat Massengale, who had owned a small bait shop north of town on Highway 63.
“They gave me some insight and pointers and it grew from there,” Bret said.
The couple started selling wax worms and minnows from the breezeway between their garage and home. In March of 2019, Bret and Charyl were able to purchase the portable bait shop building from the Massengales and move it next to their home.
The bait shop, which is open 24-7, is set up on a self-serve format. Prices are posted and anglers make their purchase and place the money in a slot inside the bait shop.
The business offers wax worms, night crawlers, nitro crawlers, stink bait, leeches, minnows and chicken liver. A limited amount of fishing hooks, fishing string, weights, bobbers and also kid’s fishing rod and reel combos are available for purchase.
Bret said the business is going strong and Friday and Saturdays seem to be his biggest days. He is selling two-three gallons of minnows and more than 55 dozen worms a week.
“I have to restock once a week,” he said.
Bret is an avid ice fisherman and said he loves the thrill of being out on the ice. During the summer months, he and Charyl enjoy taking their two girls on family fishing trips.
For more information on Washington Street Bait, Bret can be contacted at 641-990-0161.