Lake Afton Park bait shop to sell bait once again

The grocery store/bait shop at Lake Afton
The grocery store/bait shop at Lake Afton File photo

The bait shop at Lake Afton Park will again sell — um — bait.

Sedgwick County closed the bait shop at the park’s service center in 2011 as a cost-cutting measure. An employee still sold permits and made shelter reservations out of the center situated at the northwest entrance of the park off of MacArthur. The county also sold bottled and fountain drinks to thirsty patrons, as well as firewood.

But anglers looking for bait had to go elsewhere.

“We probably had the only baitless bait shop in the state of Kansas,” Commission Chairman Richard Ranzau said Tuesday.

Commissioners informally agreed Tuesday to start selling bait at the shop again.

Ranzau thinks selling bait will help reduce the county’s expenses to operate the center.

About 200 people would stop by the shop on a busy summer weekend when the county sold bait, said Mark Sroufe, superintendent at Lake Afton Park and Sedgwick County Park.

“Since we lost the bait shop, we probably get 30 people in a day,” Sroufe said.

Sroufe thinks bait “absolutely” will generate revenue.

The shop is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Beginning in mid-April, it will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sroufe said the county has one full-time and two part-time employees at the shop.

Sroufe said people would show up with bait buckets and leave disappointed that they couldn’t buy minnows, worms and other bait.

“I think we lost some of our customer base just for that fact,” he said of the park.

The shop will begin selling packaged baits and lures immediately. This spring, it will begin selling worms. Minnows probably won’t return for a year or so.

“We have to build it back up,” Sroufe said.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.