There are approximately 372 establishments that sell live bait throughout the state of Missouri. Included in that number are 149 small family or privately owned shops which are registered, but not associated with, the “Big Box” or chain stores.

These larger operations specialize in sporting goods equipment and the bait is a supplemental item. In the smaller family-owned bait shops, live bait is the main staple of business where the equipment and tackle is a convenience for their customer.

The State of Missouri requires each bait shop to have a business license, business name registration, a federal tax identification number and a seller’s permit (wholesale license resale state identification). Bait dealers also must register annually with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and use only the legal sources and species listed on the Approved Aquatic Species List.  

If bait is obtained outside the state, the Missouri Department of Agriculture must be contacted for regulations and or restrictions of that species.

The three-link chain between the fisherman, bait shop, and the Missouri Department of Conservation is important in helping preserve and protect the diverse fishery and natural resources of Missouri. Where do most fishermen go before a fishing trip, and where do they go to show off their catch? The local bait shop.

I am sure that all of us have seen the numerous photographs on a bait shop bulletin board. The bait shop owner is an important conduit between the fisherman and the MDC. The bait shop owner informs the fisherman of any new wildlife codes that may pertain to fishing regulations and helps control the use of invasive aquatic species such as the Rusty Crawfish.

The bait shop owner receives information daily from fishermen concerning changes that they have seen in the lakes and streams. These changes could have an effect on the local streams and the health of Missouri’s wildlife. So it is important to share this information with the MDC.

Paul’s Bait & Tackle, located at 4421 Chippewa St. in St. Louis, has been in the same location since Jan. 1, 1959. During the last 58 years the building has gone through three renovations to increase the space as needed, just like the family ownership has grown to include the next generation.

In 2004 Eunice Bain, her husband, Steve, and her sister, Ruth, purchased the business from her parents and continue to run the business under the same guidelines of professionalism, quality products, and down to earth advice.

These guidelines are also shared with her staff, some like Shaela, who started part-time while she was in high school and 15 years later you can still find her showing night crawlers or minnows to the many customers that visit the shop.

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