A fisher and a businesswoman, navigating life’s passion

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer
memara@fortfrances.com

It is believed that if a person does what they love, they will never have to work a day in their life. Hannah Mueller, 24, is the perfect example of how a passion can turn into a job.

Born and raised in Fort Frances, Mueller was no stranger to Rainy Lake and the cabin life. Growing up, she ventured into outdoor activities with her parents and older sister.

“My family has a cabin on Crowrock Inlet. Every weekend at five o’clock Friday night, we were going to the cabin for the weekend. We spent our summers up there, and that’s basically where it all started,” Mueller said. “I was raised on Rainy Lake. We were raised outside, outdoors all the time, fishing, hunting, and trapping. We were doing anything to do with the outdoors.”

Mueller said ever since she was a baby, her parents would have her in the car seat in the boat, until she was old enough to hold a fishing rod.

Now Mueller is an avid fisher and owns Westside Bait & Tackle with her father, her main source of inspiration. This is the fourth summer they have been in business.

“My father is my hero,” Mueller said. “He showed me everything I know.”

Mueller said she works puts about 100 hours per week into her business, with her father, mother and sister putting in shifts to help Mueller during rush hours.

Although running the business takes up most of Mueller’s time, she said her dream was to become her own boss.

“Having this store has always been the dream,” Mueller said. “My dad and I used to talk about it all the time. Things lined up that it ended up working out. The property came up for sale and I was in a point my life where I could make that move. I was 20 years old. My dad had another year of work before he could retire, and he knew he was going to go as soon as he could. The timing just worked out perfect for us.”

Hannah Mueller is proof that you can make a living from what you love. She’s an avid fisher, and co-owner of Westside Bait and Tackle. – Merna Emara photo

To Mueller, fishing and hunting is not about the competition as much as it is about the fun.

“A lot of times it’s also feeding the family,” Mueller said. “You can go catch a fish then that’s one piece of meat you didn’t have to buy. We grew up eating a lot of fish, a lot of deer and a lot of moose. It’s getting out and it’s enjoying the hunt and enjoying the fish. And then of course, enjoying what that gives you as well.”

The biggest fish Mueller caught was a 25-pound lake trout, caught in the summer? Winter? of 2017. Mueller said a lot of times, you can either put it back, or there’s certain trophy sizes that you can keep. Her biggest catch fit in the trophy size.

Normally, I would throw one back that size,” Mueller said. “But because it was so windy, as soon as we pulled it out of the hole, its gills froze, and I knew if I put it back, they’re not going to survive. We ended up keeping it and it’s probably the catch of a lifetime. If it had been a warmer day, a nicer day, he would have gone back for sure.”

Even though Westside Bait & Tackle takes up most of Mueller’s time, she still manages to find time to fish and hunt.

“I’m usually fishing on Sunday evening; I close at five on Sunday,” Mueller said. “I definitely don’t get to go as much as I used to. Before we had this store, I would go usually Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I’d be fishing all weekend. It’s definitely taken a bit of a decline in the actual amount that I go. But to be honest, it just makes me enjoy it that much more when I can go out.”

Mueller said she is not a professional fisher, but she likes to fine tune her skills by following professional fishers in the area.

“Social media is so incredible,” Mueller said. “I follow a lot of the tournament fishermen in this area, as well as just people that are fishing similar waters to what our waters are. A lot of times they’ll share tips or tricks or what’s working for them that week. Sometimes you try and it works sometimes you try it and it’s just not as applicable with where you are fishing.”

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