As Nicholas Pannes and Isabel Bursch begin to trudge across Presque Isle Bay, they can’t help but be excited.
They’ve been fishing for years, but this is their first time on the bay this year, and they have a fancy fish finder to help.
“It’s the thrill of the chase, right?” Bursch said. “You never know what you’re going to get. It’s cool being able to put your rod down, see the lights flash and pull up your first fish of the day.”?
But this year’s challenge isn’t finding fish. It’s finding bait.
And it’s a problem local bait shops have struggled with for months.
“The supply chain is broken I don’t see it getting fixed anytime soon,“ said Kirt Rudzinski of East Side Angler.
He says fishing is booming as the pandemic pushes people to outdoor activities.
But covid-19 swept through bait processing facilities, shutting them down and leaving anglers waiting with bated breath, not baited hooks.
“You do a $5000 order, and you’re lucky to get 1000,“ he said.
Bare spots dot the usually packed shelves, and even simple fishing equipment can be hard to find.
“Last week, we ordered 10 to 15 cups [of wax worms]” he said. “And I think we got four or five, so we are now limiting our customers to what they can order.“
Despite the struggle, Pannes and Bursch can’t be deterred.
They found enough bait, and they’re ready to get to work.
“There’s been some things are hard to find,” Pannes said. “Waxies are hard to fine, so if you find it, good luck!”
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