Tom Hintgen/Daily Journal Birdie Whipps has been selling bait at Whipps Bait in Dalton since 1983. On Dec. 1 she supplied ice fisherman Paul Miller with shiners and fatheads.

Archived Story

Birdie knows what bait works best

Published 10:59am Tuesday, December 6, 2011 Updated 3:33pm Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When Paul Miller, 40, entered Whipps Bait in Dalton last Thursday, he made a purchase from a woman who is more than twice his age. That person is Birdie Whipps, 84, who owns the business with her sons, Gary and Jeff.

“Birdie has been selling bait here for a long time, and she knows what we need to catch fish,” said Miller.

She began the business with her late husband, Ellsworth, who died in 1993. The bait shop is open off and on during the winter months and is open most days during the summer months.

“We used to live by Wall Lake, where we rented boats, and moved to the Dalton area about 1970,” said Birdie. “We sell a lot of shiners, fatheads and crappies.”

Over the years Birdie, Ellsworth and theirs sons Gary and Jeff came to know the area lakes very well.

“When it comes to the larger ones such as Otter Tail Lake, in both winter and summer, we found that chubs (minnows) were big and tough,” said Birdie. “Fishermen had good success with the chubs.”

Whipps Bait in Dalton has an atmosphere all its own. There’s the smell from a wood-burning heater that appeals to young and old alike.

“This wood burner has worked well for many years,” said Birdie. “If something works, why change it?”

Birdie used to fish both summers and winters at Wall Lake, where her sons still fish.

Miller and other areas fishermen know that what they need will be available at Whipps Bait.

They know that Birdie, with almost 30 years in the business, and her two sons will give them good fishing advice.

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