Michelle and Jamie Shay, owners of The Bait, Tackle and Grill at Goose Pond start their day at 4:30 a.m., every Wednesday through Sunday.
Fresh biscuits piled high with sausage, bacon, or even fried bologna are among the most popular breakfast items hungry customers gather to buy before heading out for a day of fishing on beautiful Lake Guntersville.
When breakfast hours have passed, the Shays keep the grill hot and ready, serving lunch items like grilled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs and BLT’s.
One of the most popular items on the menu is the bacon double cheeseburger.
“Our customers say it’s one of the best burgers around,” Michelle said.
A lot of taste testing went into creating the burgers just the way their customers like them.
“We tried several brands of bacon before we found the one with just the right flavor,” Michelle said. “It’s not too smoky and it’s good and crispy.”
The bacon is not the only thing the Shays credit for the success of the sizzling burger that includes two thick beef patties, lots of melted cheese and a variety of toppings.
“We put the condiments directly onto the toppings – not just on the inside of the bun,” Michelle said. “That is to keep the bread from soaking them up and making the burger taste too dry. I want every bite to be juicy and full of flavor, even if it means the condiments run onto your fingers a little while you’re eating it. To me, that just makes it even better.
“It’s kind of like artwork,” she said with a laugh. “I call it my ‘sushi drizzle.’”
Everything is hot and fresh, but it is not served up fancy – there are no tablecloths, no candles; just a lot of foil, and a lot of smiles to go with it.
“We have tables inside the store,” she said, “and our customers like the way they can sit down and eat while they visit with one another, or they can get their food to go. We have a lot of regular customers and during fishing tournaments we get lots of new ones. We’ve made a lot of friends over the years.”
The Shays purchased the business three years ago after relocating to Scottsboro from Sarasota, Florida.
“We first visited the area two or three years before we moved here when Jamie fished in a tournament at Lake Guntersville and fell in love with it,” she said. “It was like offshore fishing and lake fishing from Florida combined.
“We started looking for a small-town atmosphere where we could raise our boys, Wyatt and Cody,” Michelle said. “Jamie ended up talking with a friend from high school who lived in Scottsboro.
“He told him if we were thinking of moving around the lake, then we needed to look at Scottsboro,” she continued. “When we came to the tournament, we never drove past the airport in Guntersville, so we had no idea what a nice town it is.”
The family came for a visit that summer and found a house.
“We found a place on the lake and moved here,” she said. “My mom and grandmother moved with us.”
Jamie directed fishing tournaments and Michelle, a former teacher, homeschooled the boys.
For years, the Shays had thought of owning a bait and tackle shop of their own, and when the fishing tournaments needed to be relocated, the couple visited Goose Pond. That is when they found the store – empty. It was like fate had stepped in and granted them a dream.
“I was such a city girl growing up and was always inside,” Michelle said. “Jamie broke me of that. He took me camping and fishing and I found out there was a whole other world out there that women could enjoy. I’d write in journals and dream of all the things I’d have in a bait and tackle shop if we ever owned one. I thought it would be fun to get more women interested in this kind of life or maybe just help them not be so afraid if someone asked them to go camping or fishing.”
The couple bought the store and with the help of some friends, began to stock the bait and tackle with lures, rods reels and miscellaneous items customers might need.
They opened on February 1, 2012.
Since then, the stock in the store has grown and business is better than ever.
The menu has grown, as well, and now includes pulled pork, chips, snacks, cold sodas and beer and even hand-dipped ice cream.
It is a busy life, but the couple and their sons are very happy with their piece of paradise by the water.
“We are living a dream here,” Jamie said. “We’ve got all the things fishermen need and the best burgers on Lake Guntersville.”
The Bait, Tackle and Grill at Goose Pond is open Wednesday – Sunday from 4 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Contact them by calling: 256-599-0132, or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.