Despite experiencing some of his best business in years, Walter Hoehn is selling his business.
Walt’s Hook Line and Sinker, along Ottawa Road, just outside of St. Peter, is up for sale.
But while the COVID-19 virus pandemic stay at home order has been going on, more people are going out fishing, so that has brought in more business to Walt’s. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the sale of fishing licenses is up 36 percent over 2019.
It also helped that Hoehn has been offering a going out of business 10 percent discount on tackle in early May when he put the place up for sale.
Hoehn said his sales are up 40 percent. He only had two rods and two reels left for sale in June, and he had to order more tackle, even though he had planned to sell as much as possible before selling the place.
“Tackle has been flying out the door,” Hoehn said. “With only being able to go fishing, everybody wants to get out of the house, so license sales have been way up. People that haven’t gone fishing in years are going fishing again, so they’re picking up stuff that they needed before.”
He added, “Everything is getting jammed up all the way back to the suppliers. They can’t keep up with our orders. I ordered some line, and it took 10 days to get here. Normally it’s a two-day turnaround. The warehouse is that far behind because there are so many orders. We’re all in the same boat.”
Normally, Hoehn said he gets low on supplies in the end of July. But this year it’s been low in the first week of June.
“And it isn’t just one item,” Hoehn said. “It’s a little bit of everything.”
Live bait sales of minnows, angle worms, night crawlers and wax worms have been very good, too, Hoehn said: “Wax worms have been going out because families are taking the kids out fishing. It’s easy for them to use. Minnow sales have been tremendous. We pretty much have been able to get everything we wanted as long as you don’t over order on suckers.”
Hoehn, who turns 70 this year, is moving to Webster, South Dakota, where he already has purchased a home. He likes the area because he has good fishing, something that he hasn’t had much time to do in the last 13 years running the bait and tackle shop.
He has fished the lakes near Webster, South Dakota, for about a dozen years.
That doesn’t mean Hoehn won’t miss the customers.
After working in factories for 20 years at Onan in St. Peter and five years at Door Engineering in Kasota, Hoehn welcomed the chance to be around more happy people.
“The attitude here is totally different,” Hoehn said. “Most of them are happy. They’re going fishing. They’re not going to work,so they have a really good attitude. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
Thirteen hours a day here seem like five. Eight hours at the factory seemed like 15.
Hoehn owned the property, constructed the log cabin bait shop and built an addition where he now lives.
While he will miss the people, Hoehn said he will welcome the chance to go fishing whenever he wants. He has been working virtually every day of the year from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. with a few vacations and parts of days off.
“I’ll shut down early on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and Easter,” said Hoehn, who works portions of all the holidays. “You don’t get holidays and weekends off here, because that’s when everybody goes fishing.”
His son, Justin who just graduated from South Central Tech in HVAC and boilers and is looking for a job, and the retired Chuck Bomboy, of Kasota, fill in and give him a break sometimes for vacations and to pick up supplies.
Hoehn took his first vacation in about a year (a whole three days) this June. He missed spring, fall and winter fishing plans.
“Every time that I was able to sneak out and go fishing, something would come up conflicting,” Hoehn said. “So I decided that I needed to go fishing full-time.”