How to Start a Bait & Tackle Shop

A bait and tackle shop is a fisherman’s go-to supply shop for bait. Normally, a bait and tackle shop is located near boat launches, piers, and lakes. If they’re licensed, a bait and tackle shop can make extra money by selling drinks and beer to fisherman. Some bait and tackle shops also sell snacks.

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Learn how to start your own Bait & Tackle Shop and whether it is the right fit for you.


Start a bait & tackle shop by following these 9 steps:

You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your bait & tackle shop. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

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STEP 1: Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:

Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.

What are the costs involved in opening a bait & tackle shop?

Bait and tackle shop startup costs are low. Normally, it takes $5,000 to start one. This cost covers the rent, the utilities, and insurance. It will also cover the shop’s basic supplies, like tanks, aerators, refrigeration, gear, tackle, and vending machines. As a bait tackle shop grows, it’ll need more supplies to keep fishers happy.

What are the ongoing expenses for a bait & tackle shop?

A bait and tackle shop needs to source its live bait. Typically, it catches its own. Expenses include gasoline for water trips and bait nets. If you want to source your own bait from another provider, expect to pay about $20 per bucket of shiners, snappers, suckers, or fat heads.

Who is the target market?

The ideal customers are fishermen. Instead of targeting a specific type of client, focus on the area. Establish your bait and tackle shop near a beach, a pier, a lake, or a river. Preferred clients are locals, because they buy bait in bulk. If you have to pay extra money for an extra location, do it. It’s worthwhile to pick a location with return customers.

How does a bait & tackle shop make money?

Many bait and tackle shops make money by selling bait alone. Some bait stands, in fact, only have a single tank with live bait. Others, meanwhile, offer lures, hooks, line, and even spare rod pieces. Depending on the location, a bait and tackle shop will offer different items. Ocean fishing is different than freshwater fishing, and it needs additional gear.

Bait and tackle shops can also sell food and drinks for money. Some shops sell beer and liquor. Other shops may open a café. While rare, some shops are also seafood restaurants. Really, it depends on the shop’s location. Bait can be charged by the bucket, or it can be charged by individual fish, worm, etc. Tackle is sold on a per item basis.

How much can you charge customers?

Charge customers between 25 and 95 cents for live bait, per bait. Fishing lures can be priced between 95 cents and $10. As for tackle, prices range from $15 to $80, depending on what you’re selling. If you’re selling rod necessities, like spinning reels, you can sell products up to $100.

How much profit can a bait & tackle shop make?

A good bait and tackle shop can make about $45,000 per year, if it’s small. Larger franchised bait and tackle shops, meanwhile, can make over $200,000 in profit per year. A lot of a bait and tackle shop’s success depends on its availability—as well as the area’s fishing needs.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Commercial fishing is a big business, but it might not be big in your area. Instead of expanding your floor space off the bat, look for better locations. Host special events like contests, and sponsor charitable community work.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Bait & Tackle Shop Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.

When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:

  • Your state's business records
  • Federal and state trademark records
  • Social media platforms
  • Web domain availability.

It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.

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STEP 2: Form a legal entity

The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your bait & tackle shop is sued.

Form Your LLC

Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC

Have a Professional Service Form your LLC for You

Two such reliable services:

You can start an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.

Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.

STEP 3: Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!

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You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.

Learn how to get an EIN in our What is an EIN guide or find your existing EIN using our EIN lookup guide.

Small Business Taxes

Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).

You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:

There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.

STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
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Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.

STEP 5: Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

In most states, it is necessary to obtain a bait shop license. Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a bait & tackle business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For more information about local licenses and permits:

It is important to abide by your state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Regulations

Certificate of Occupancy

A bait shop business is generally run out of a shack or storefront. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.  

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a bait & tackle business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your bait & tackle business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

STEP 7: Get business insurance

Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.

There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.

Learn more about General Liability Insurance.

Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.

Recommended: Learn what business insurance for your Bait & Tackle Shop will cost.

Business Insurance for
Bait & Tackle Shop

STEP 8: Define your brand

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

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How to promote & market a bait & tackle shop

Fortunately, bait and tackle shops frequently promote themselves. Reach out to local restaurants, fishing areas, and near-water locations. A lot of fishers rely on big-name brands to get their tackle. That said, they’ll turn to local bait and tackle shops for convenience. Again, a lot of shops thrive from being near the water.

As for marketing, make a Facebook page. Put flyers around local businesses, and reach out to local business owners. A lot of your marketing will be word-of-mouth marketing.

How to keep customers coming back

Attract customers by being in an accessible location. Marinas, beaches, and piers will be your best bet. Retain customers by being fully stocked, offering good advice, and being accommodating. A lot of fishers return to the same bait and tackle shops out of habit, so make sure you’re kind to your regulars.

STEP 9: Create your business website

After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.

While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.

Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:

  • All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
  • Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
  • Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.

Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.

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Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.

Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.

Start A Bait & Tackle Shop In Your State

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Is this Business Right For You?

Bait and tackle shops are perfect for people who love to fish. If you love fishing on the ocean, on lakes or on rivers, consider opening one. They’re also great for friendly sports-lovers. Bait and tackle shops are normally people-oriented. If you like the small shop environment, a bait and tackle shop may be for you.

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Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!

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What happens during a typical day at a bait & tackle shop?

Bait and tackle shop owners have several responsibilities. First, they need to maintain the live bait. To do so, they need to keep the tanks, aerators, and water supplies clean. Bait and tackle shop owners must also keep bait and tackle stocked. They should also make sure other bait is refrigerated. Vending machines need to be restocked, and customers need to be kept happy. A successful bait and tackle shop owner also cleans, works the register, markets, and manages the area.

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful bait & tackle shop?

A successful bait and tackle shop will understand the area. They’ll know which fish can be caught, and they’ll also know how to catch them. More importantly: They’ll know how to use their bait.

A good bait and tackle shop will also offer high-quality lures, bait, and tackle. Fishers lose their tackle and bait a lot, and they’ll pay extra for high-quality products. If your bait and tackle shop is on a pier, near a restaurant, or on the beach, it’ll need to be noninvasive. Serve customers, give information, and let them fish.

What is the growth potential for a bait & tackle shop?

Normally, bait and tackle shops stay local. It’s rare to see a bait and tackle chain, but they do exist. Large bait and tackle shops may expand, stocking hunting, camping, and survival supplies. Stores like Outdoor World, for example, sell many supplies.

For the most part, a bait and tackle shop will serve a very specific area. Fishers search by location, when fishing. For this reason, they’ll buy bait and tackle from whichever shop is closest. There isn’t too much competition with bait and tackle shops, but you should still have a competitive pricing mindset. If your shop is in a popular fishing area, fishers may still turn to other shops if their prices are better.

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Take the Next Step

Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Resources to Help Women in Business

There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:

  • Funding
  • Events
  • Guides
  • Support

If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a bait & tackle shop?

Invest in an underperforming, unprofitable location. When you’re starting, you’re better off relying on low expenses. Determine your competition, and consider competing with existing shops. It can take a tackle shop some time to get started, but they can become powerful local shops once they’ve gained footing.

How and when to build a team

You can operate a bait and tackle shop alone at first. Soon, however, you should bring on at least two or three employees. These employees will need to help with bait refrigeration, cleaning, processing orders, and stocking the shop. If you plan on franchising, you’ll need to have a team of at least five employees.

Next Steps

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