In their own words (commercial bait catchers, wholesalers and retailers)
"I grew up in Linwood and later settled in Pinconning. As a kid I rode my bike to my first job at Frank's Great Outdoors. Frank was my uncle and he got me started as a teenager catching bait for the store. Later I expanded and began supplying several regional tackle shops and it just went from there. I've been catching minnows for 40 years and have now been in business going on 25 years now. I harvest most of my bait from Lake Huron and about 50% is sold regionally for the Saginaw Bay fishery with the rest sold inland. In a strong winter when the Saginaw River freezes good and people can drive trucks out on the bay, 75% of what I sell stays in the bay area to meet the added demand. I enjoy the work and now my son is starting to help out."
Jeff Slancik, Commercial Bait Catcher and Wholesaler
"My family has been in the live bait business since 1972 as owner of Mackie's Bait in Algonac, Michigan. I started the retail business with my wife Diana by catching and selling minnows to local fisherman going out of Anchor Bay on Lake St. Clair. Over the years, with the help of our son, James, we gradually expanded into the wholesale market. We harvest minnows from the southern waters of Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, and Lake Erie and are now one of the largest wholesale suppliers of live bait in Southeastern Michigan. I'm very proud to have been able to start and grow this business locally with my family."
David Mackie, Commercial Bait Catcher, Wholesaler, and Retailer
"I grew up in the small town of Osineke Michigan near Alpena and enjoyed hunting and fishing as a kid. My father-in-law got me into the minnow business in 1983 and I moved to Imlay City permanently in 1988. I harvest mostly emerald shiners (blues) from Saginaw Bay and southern Lake Huron which then get sold to bait and tackle shops throughout the state. After 32 years, of being my own boss and working in the outdoors, I continue to enjoy catching and supplying minnows to Michigan anglers."
Dale Sikkema, Commercial Bait Catcher and Wholesaler
"Michigan Wholesale Bait Inc. is a family run business. It was started by my father Dick Weidenhamer in Traverse City in 1955. It operated there until 1978 when it was moved to Alanson before opening a second location in Sparta in 1986. In 2001 we expanded the business again to include an aquaculture component and began breeding and growing fish for stocking people's backyard farm ponds. The entire business is now run by me, my brother Bill, my son Rick Jr. Together along with help from my father and grandson, we have 4 generations helping out."
Rick Weidenhamer, Commercial Bait Catcher, Wholesaler, and Fish Farmer