Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A Minnesota bait shop Norman Rockwell could appreciate April 26, 2013

White's Bait Shop, Madison Lake, Minnesota

White’s Bait Shop, Madison Lake, Minnesota, photographed while passing by.

FROM A PURE visual perspective, White’s Corner Bait in Madison Lake confuses the eye with a mishmash of angles and cluttered signage. Too many words to read while passing by on Minnesota Highway 60.

Pop, ice, bait...

Pop, ice, bait, batteries, tackle, rods, reels…

But from an artistic perspective, this long-time bait shop delights with a Norman Rockwell-like Americana charm.

I have, for decades, admired this barn red multi-layered building of angles and assorted jumbled rooflines defined by a pointed corner tower.

Not once, though, have I stopped to photograph it, to step inside, to check out the bait, to gather information on where the fish are biting.

Oh, how I love that kitschy fish.

Oh, how I love that kitschy fish.

White’s Bait, open since 2011 in a building that has been a bait shop for more than 50 years, prides itself on providing “good quality bait and great customer service.” Says so, right there on the business website.

Seems quintessential Norman Rockwellish to me. That good quality, that great customer service.

Next time I’ll stop.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “A Minnesota bait shop Norman Rockwell could appreciate”

  1. shovelheader Says:

    Looks great. I love the fish on the wall, would love to have a big gaudy sticker of that on the mismatched tailgate of my fishing truck!

  2. My favorite thing here are the two white plastic chairs outside the shop, just waiting for someone to sit there and share fish tales!

  3. We are good friends with Kathy Winkler of Winkler Bait Service…they service this store and all over the great state of MN with bait…year round.
    Last Summer Lucy spent an afternoon with Kathy sorting worms, counting minnows and scooping leeches! She had a ball!!!
    Winkler Bait Service is located in Mankato, Mn. It was owned by her and her late husband Vern, and Kathy continued the business after his passing.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks, Stacey, for sharing this info. Always interesting to hear “the rest of the story.”

  4. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    Uh, well, if you say so. On my list of ugliness in the area. We drove through Carver two days ago. That is a town. It will not survive that way much longer I think, since it is virtually a suburb now. I’m not going to explain. It is a worth a trip with your camera, Audrey.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And my eyes really appreciate this bait shop. Alright, Carver, you say. On my list of places to make a road trip.

  5. Hi Audrey. I’ve really enjoyed looking at your blog. I am very new to the blogosphere, writing about growing up in rural south Alabama. I do freelance writing and editing while my little one is in school. I feel like I probably have a niche, since no one has the same growing up memories as I. However, I really like what you are doing here, with the photography and the writing. What type of camera are you using? I don’t have a fancy digital, but I’m thinking that blogging about my environment could be interesting. We have our share of old barns, old houses, a charming downtown, etc. Well, I’d love to hear from you! Best regards from http://www.thewritesteph.com

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Steph, welcome to Minnesota Prairie Roots. Happy to have you as a reader and introduce you to my part of the country. I focus a lot on place, both in words and photography, as you’ve gathered.

      I shoot with a DSLR Canon EOS 20D. I don’t necessarily think it takes a “fancy” camera to get great shots. Rather, it takes an eye for composition, for light, for angles, for subjects, for perspective. Just like in writing, you need to notice the details as well as the overall picture. Listen. Observe. Smell. Engage all of your senses. Most important, you must be passionate about blogging. Find your voice. Set yourself apart. Write well. Post consistently, and with lots of photos. Follow those guidelines and you will succeed in the blogosphere.

  6. Beth Ann Says:

    Great place from the looks of it and I bet a million fish tales have been told here over the years!!! Oh to be a little fly on the wall.

  7. One Beautiful Looking Bait Shop! I think that fish is a pike or muskie – cannot really remember what fish has the spiky teeth. I want to see what the inside looks like since the outside just draws me in! Happy Friday – Happy Weekend:)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Alright, I get the hint. I promise, when I stop, I will show you the interior of the bait shop.

      • Sorry just curious by nature:( Plus there could be some great stuff in there that you are missing out on – ha!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Don’t every apologize for curiosity. That trait makes for a good writer, a good blogger. I am curious about everything, but just did not have time to stop and explore inside the bait shop.

      • Growing up my dad would go into the bait shop by his parent’s place and come out with a 100 pounds of potatoes. That just peaked my curiousity and the next year I went in with him – magical place for a 9 year old!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Hmmmm. Spuds in a bait shop. Somewhere in my files I have photos from a bait shop in Osakis. Quite the place. I don’t think I posted about it yet. But maybe I did. I go so many places that sometimes I forget. I will check.

  8. Jackie Says:

    Eye-candy for those who can appreciate the beauty in old buildings, sharp angles, bold colors and especially NOT the same old boring buildings! Loving the round window and peaked roof, so unique! Thanks for sharing

  9. treadlemusic Says:

    I’m such a fan of the classic farm red w/ white scheme and Norman Rockwell….most definitely!!! Will “stay tuned” for the rest of the story (some day!). Hugs, Doreen

  10. Allan Says:

    What? No blog today? Audrey must have bought live bait and fishing gear from that “Norman Rockwell” bait store. Why didn’t she say, “Gone Fishing”? 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, Allan, it is nice to be missed. I wish I had been fishing. Instead, I spent my day working on refinishing a table for my son and raking leaves from flowerbeds. I did, however, stop at a garage sale and pick up a Frankoma teapot. Call it fishing…for treasures.

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