Steve Hurst came for the bobbers but the man from Madison turned the talk to restoring the lagoon at Warner Park.
Dane’s Mark Hellenbrand bought a fishing license but soon started talking about migrating pelicans devouring fish in the calm waters of the Wisconsin River.
And Loren Ziglin from Middleton came over to pick up some flies and chat about trout fishing in Richland County.
This is the atmosphere that Patrick Hasburgh did not want to lose in his North Side neighborhood.
Located next to Culver’s on Northport Drive, D&S Bait & Tackle’s minnow tanks buzz and bubble, the cooler is filled with night caterpillars and grubs, and the sales floor is filled with racks of rods, reels and designed lures to attract fish. and fishermen. Bars, walleyes and mounted perches are hung on the walls.
So when Gene and Sandy Dellinger began considering retirement after owning the store for the past 31 years, Hasburgh, along with his wife, Ashley, knew he had to take action to ensure the one of the few locally owned full-service tackle shops in Dane County would be around for years to come.
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“It’s such a vital part of this community,” said Patrick Hasburgh, referring to the neighborhood he’s lived in for the past 15 years with his family. “I just have a lot of faith in local bait shops. It’s a rewarding job helping people find fish.
The Hasburghs purchased the company from the Dellingers on March 1. Ashley will continue her career as a nurse practitioner at the VA Hospital in Madison, but will manage the books. Patrick, a long-time fisherman and local Trout Unlimited board member, will be the face of the business and work six days a week behind the counter and on the sales floor while another employee will take care of the store on Sunday. They will both be overseen by a five-foot-tall cardboard cutout of Dellinger waving his right hand and standing near a wall of spinning reels.
The store, a short drive from Warner Park Pier on Lake Mendota, was founded in 1981 by Debbie and Steve Pappas who ran the store for 10 years before selling to the Dellingers, who kept the D&S name and expanded offers to include rental of ice fishing shacks for pole fishing and archery equipment for deer hunting.
These parts of the business were discontinued several years ago, but the Dellingers had long been supporters of the Yahara Fishing Club’s “Free Kids Fishing” events held twice a year, one for open water fishing, the another on the ice. The events offer free rods and reels to young anglers and offer instruction from volunteers.
Dellinger was also a go-between for fishing guides and was known for his recorded fishing reports. He acquired the phone number (608) BIG-FISH in 1998 when Steve Gerhardt’s sports center closed and offered the number.
“Running your own small business can be quite a time commitment,” Dellinger said Thursday by phone during his morning walk. “If you want to maintain profitability and keep your future in mind, you have to do a lot of the work yourself.”
Most bait shops are gone
When Dellinger bought the company in 1991, there were “about half a dozen” similar stores within a 10-mile radius. Most of them are now gone, and D&S is now something of an anomaly on the local retail scene, even though Madison is home to some of the best lakes in the state, teeming with trophy muskie, northern, bass and crappie. The area has been flooded with big box stores like Walmart, Cabela’s, Fleet Farm, Farm & Fleet and Dick’s Sporting Goods, all of which have large fishing departments.
Dorn Hardware, at Midvale Boulevard and Beltline, is the only other locally owned, full-service bait and tackle store in the Madison area. Ace Hardware in Middleton sells minnows but has a limited tackle department. Harley’s Liquor and Bait on Atwood Avenue is primarily a liquor store with tanks of minnows in the back of the store, while a BP convenience store in McFarland also sells minnows, but like many others it has a selection limited hardware.
“Business has changed a lot during this time, but the ultimate goal was to have a job and work at something you enjoy,” Dellinger said. “Whatever success I had, I would like to say that it wasn’t something I wrote down on paper. It just evolved over time. But you must be a people person.
And Patrick Hasburgh seems to already have this part of the business in hand. He plans to continue a series of fishing seminars in the spring and late fall, but would like to add fly fishing seminars.
The back wall of the shop was bare on Wednesday but, for the first time, is reserved for entry-level fly fishing gear like rods, reels, line, tip and tied flies by John Gribb of Mount Horeb. Spinning and Baitcaster reel repairs will also continue thanks to Cory Steil, a former shop employee who now does the work from his home in Oregon, but with his customers using the shop to drop off and pick up reels.
Vision for the future
Hasburgh has visions of programs with the Warner Park Rec Center for young anglers, hosting fly-tying events in the store and building what he calls a “Little Free Lurebrary” for anglers to swap their lures, kinda like the books that fill the Little Free Libraries. In the past, Hasburgh has worked building skate parks, invested time in Warner Park restoration efforts, and is a member of the Yahara Fishing Club.
“I’m deeply invested in the North Side and conservation and D&S seems like a great way to continue that,” Hasburgh said. “My whole mission with the shop is to try to make fishing more accessible, especially on the fly fishing side.”
Hasburgh, 43, grew up in Blanchardville fishing the Pecatonica River and using a fly rod to fish for trout on Gordon and Kittleson creeks. After high school, he attended Madison Area Technical College to study graphic design, which led to two stints at In Business Magazine in Madison. He also had his own advertising agency for a time and since 2012 has been a stay-at-home dad and works part-time as a cook at Ale Asylum.
Hasburgh was also a founding member of the Madison Skatepark Fund which raised over $700,000 to build the $1.2 million Goodman Skatepark which opened in 2015 at McPike Park.
In 2021, Hasburgh helped volunteers build a $5,000 “do-it-yourself” skate park on a flat piece of asphalt at Warner Park with plans to build a similar skate park at Elvehjem Park located near the intersection of Cottage Grove Road and Interstate 39-90 on the Far East Side of Madison.
But for now, Hasburgh is deep in stocking his store, trying to find inventory, getting to know his customers and realizing he has his own business a few blocks from his shared home. with Ashley and their two sons.
“It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time,” Hasburgh said. “My job is very similar to that of a bartender. It’s talking with people.