Have you ever walked into a bait shop and instantly gotten the vibe that the place is more than a spot to buy some minnows? It feels nostalgic and iconic. If feels like a historical landmark. That’s the impression I got last week when I walked into Lundeen’s Tackle Castle on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota. It had the vintage smell of an antique shop or a flea market, and I’d bet that the ghosts of the long-gone walleye and muskie anglers that bellied up to that counter to buy leeches or ice jigs over the years still linger around. It’s the kind of place where the locals go, leaving the other hundred area shops glutted with the latest and greatest gear to the tourists.
In Montauk, NY, there are two main tackle shops: Johnny’s and Paulie’s. Johnny’s is on the main drag. Paulie’s is on a side street. I’ve been in both, and they sell a lot of the same tackle, but as far as the local surfcasters are concerned, Johnny’s is where tourists go, and Paulie’s is where the “sharpies” shop. It’s one of those mysteries not worth trying to figure out…that’s just the way it is, and both stay in business.
Lundeen’s, I suppose you could say, is the Paulie’s of the southern end of Mille Lacs. They sell what you need and nothing you don’t. Right up the street there is a tackle shop with row after row of every muskie lure under the sun. Lundeen’s sells a few hand-tied bucktails, a few big spinnerbaits, and an assortment of essential plugs that have become proven staples. Much like my favorite old-school Jersey Shore tackle shop, Betty & Nick’s, they sell the essentials, and if you can’t catch a striper on one of the lures they offer, there’s probably something wrong with you, not the lures.