First impressions are important and set the tone for things to come. My first impression of The Tackle Box was, what makes this place so popular?
There were several cars and trucks parked in front of the building, a pickup truck pulling a boat was along the side, people walking down the street and going into The Tackle Box, and a group of folks sitting on the bench and chairs out front having an enjoyable time visiting.
To begin, this building is one of the best-looking bait shop buildings that I have seen. This 1930s-brownstone building was first a Texaco service station and then it became a pawn shop. After that it set empty for 20 years.
In the summer of 2016 Lisa Brenneke bought the building, and she and Roger Knowles along with her daughters, Chelsea Brenneke and Rebecca Harris, and Lisa’s grandchildren brought the building back to life and started a bait shop.
After a lot of renovation work to the building and receiving the proper license and permits from the State of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conversation, the shop opened for business in August 2016.
Opening a bait and tackle shop in her hometown seemed like a natural fit for Lisa. She had experience working in a previous bait shop for 5 years. She has always enjoyed the outdoors, in fact she wanted to be a park ranger when she was growing up.
She truly loves to fish, especially for trout. She also likes old buildings and the history they represent, especially in her hometown of Bismarck, Mo.
There are three different and distinct sections to The Tackle Box. The bait and tackle part of the business is to the right as you walk into the building. They have on hand the typical bait that you would expect a bait shop to carry — Fathead minnows, goldfish, frozen shad and herring, night crawlers, red wigglers, neon night crawlers, crickets, chicken and turkey livers, and prepared catfish baits such as Sonny’s and BJ.
And they sell a lot of bait. During the busy season it is nothing for them to go through three to four thousand minnows, hundreds of containers of worms, and a hundred thousand plus crickets in a week’s time.
Roger also prepares their own in-house brand of trout bait called “The Original Fuji Trout Bait.”
The center part of the building is the entry or lobby. This has the checkout counter and the wall of fame where the children of the area display photographs of the fish that they have caught. This is also where Roger prepares the bait for human consumption.
On the weekends The Tackle Box has barbecue brisket, ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and baked beans. They hand-make a thin crust pizza which is served all day, and in the morning you can order up a plate of homemade biscuits and gravy.
Their reputation for serving great-tasting food is well known. Members of the various high school athletic teams stop in for a breakfast of biscuits and gravy before practice. People call in all day long to order their famous thin crust pizza.
If you visit The Tackle Box’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/lisastacklebox, you will see the many compliments on their pizza. They have even made a delivery to Bismarck Lake.
Fishermen, think about this. If you are out on the lake and having a good day fishing, then you ran out of night crawlers and you also forgot your lunch, just a simple phone call could solve both of your problems.
The left side of the building is sort of a mini-mart where you can purchase fountain drinks; there are coolers with bottled water, soda and beer. There are all kinds of bagged snacks and candies. If you feel lucky you can pick up some lottery tickets along with your bait.
If you were not as lucky as you were hoping to be at fishing, you can pick up a bottle of bourbon to help ease the pain. There is even a drive-thru window for your convenience.
The Tackle Box is still a bait shop and a successful one. This is because of the commitment of Lisa, Roger, Chelsea and Rebecca to make sure that their customers have a pleasant experience in their outdoor adventure.
This is truly a family business and it is Lisa’s hope that her children and then her grandchildren, Amelia, Mariah and Nicholas, continue serving the community.
Hunters and fishermen can obtain their hunting, deer, turkey and fishing permits at The Tackle Box. There is a nice selection of soft plastic baits, fishing line, fishing hooks, weights, an assortment of fishing rods and reels, dip nets, minnow buckets and cricket containers.
You will need to take a few minutes to look at the collection of antique fishing lures that Lisa’s grandfather made. What’s even more impressive are the mounted fish hanging on the walls. There are rainbow trout (one of the big ones Lisa caught), a large mouth bass, a nice walleye and a head mount of a very large catfish with a bluegill in its mouth.
Even more impressive than all of that is that all of these fish were caught locally. If there is a particular piece of tackle or equipment that you need for fishing, the staff will do their best to get it for you.
To further accommodate their clients, The Tackle Box is open from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. Weather conditions have an effect on fishing and sometimes pose a threat for the safety of the fisherman. Lisa constantly keeps an eye on the local weather reports and informs her customers of any impending threats.
Lisa selected the town of Bismarck to start her business not only because it is her hometown, but Bismarck is in the center of one of the best Ozark recreation areas in the state.
Bismarck Lake, Johnson’s Shut-Ins, and St. Joe State Park are just a few of the areas for camping enthusiasts. As for places to fish a person could spend days checking out Bismarck Lake, St. Joe State Park, Iron Mountain Lake, the St. Francois River, Big River and Council Bluff Lake. This area also has several private lakes with homes and weekend retreats located on them.
I spent a very pleasant afternoon sitting on one of the chairs in front of the bait shop talking to Lisa and Roger. I enjoyed some pulled pork and had a slice of pizza and listened to Lisa share her vision for The Tackle Box and for the town of Bismarck.
She and Roger want to expand their business to better serve the community and for a legacy for her children. She has had several conversations with the town’s mayor about one of the small ponds that is located on city property and turning it into a Kids Only Fishing Pond where neighborhood children can learn the art of angling. Maybe even have children fishing tournaments.
Bismarck has an outdoor family movie night at the park and Lisa is planning on being a sponsor for that event. The Tackle Box crew is also helping with the Fourth of July fireworks display for the town of Bismarck this year.
Lisa enjoys children. You will often see her grandchildren (Amelia, Mariah & Nicholas) in the shop on weekends helping out. The owners of The Tackle Box would like the public to know that this is a safe and friendly family business where people can stop in and buy some fishing bait and fishing supplies, enjoy some good food and pleasant conversations.
It is important to Liza to be part of someone’s great outdoor experience. Lisa recalls a time when she was trout fishing at one of the Missouri trout parks. She was using some of Roger’s Original Fuji Trout Bait and doing quite well catching rainbows.
Next to her was a young girl, maybe 10 years old. She had been there all morning and hadn’t caught a thing, she never even had a bite.
Lisa shared with her some magic Fuji Trout Bait, showed her how to put in on her hook, where to cast her line and what to look for when watching her bobber float downstream.
The young girl followed Lisa’s instructions and it was no time at all before she was fighting her first rainbow trout. When she finally landed the trout she had tears in hers eyes from the sheer excitement and joy of a memorable fishing experience. This experience will last a lifetime for this young girl.
Lisa, Roger and her daughters want everyone to have a good time when they go fishing and the shop is open 16 to 17 hours a day in order to achieve that goal.
The Tackle Box is located at 721 S. Cedar St., Bismarck, MO 63624. Their phone number is (573) 734-8255.
Stop in and have a seat on the front bench or chairs. Visit with the people of Bismarck as they stop by (these are very friendly folks). Listen to their stories about about seeing black bears around Holiday Shores and Pilot Knob.
Some will even share with you where the fish are biting; if they won’t, Lisa will. Get a couple dozen minnows and a container of neon night crawlers and some good food to go and enjoy a great day of fishing.
Because everybody is happy when they go fishing.
(Editor’s note: If you have a favorite bait shop you’d like to see featured in the Traveler, please email Bill Wakefield at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Tackle Box
721 S. Cedar St.
Bismarck, MO. 63624
Lisa Brenneke (Owner)