Fishing has been Chelsea Zylstra’s passion since she could walk. She has now fulfilled her dream of owning her own tackle and bait store.
“As a kid, going into the bait shop was so fun and I always dreamed of having my own,” said Zylstra, the owner of OutCast Fishing and Convenience. “Both of my parents loved fishing and have now passed away so it’s also in memory of them. I want to be a family name and make sure the community knows they can rely on me. My vision is to be Muskoka’s go-to, one-stop bait and tackle shop.”
“It’s definitely a male-dominated industry,” said Zylstra. “A lot of people come in and expect an old man, not a young woman.”
Zylstra is still building her inventory and will have more available soon. OutCast’s current fishing offerings include a selection of fishing gear and tackle (rods, reels, hats, lures, hooks, line, knives, and sinkers) and live bait (leeches, dew worms, small, medium, and large chubs, large suckers, and shiners). She also plans to have a display of locally made products including jigs and soft plastics, and will add hunting gear—everything but guns—in the near future.
OutCast is also a convenience store and carries treats and snacks, drinks, firewood, propane, and lottery. Within the next month or so, expect to find fresh sandwiches, milk, bread, and eggs on her shelves, as much of it locally sourced as possible.
Running her own business was always Zylstra’s end goal.
“I come from the restaurant industry and I didn’t get a lot of family time,” she said. “My kids are growing up and I don’t want to miss it.”
While lockdown restrictions are ever-changing, as a convenience store, OutCast remains open.
Zylstra has implemented safety measures including a six-person in-store maximum, a disinfecting fog machine, personal temperature checks every day, and a plexiglass barrier around the checkout desk.
“Fishing remains to be an outdoor activity that anyone at any age can enjoy at any time,” she said. “It’s a safe, healthy, family pastime where you can enjoy outside.”
OutCast Fishing and Convenience is located at 18 John St. Its current hours of operation are Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For the season opener of pike and walleye (around May 24) the store will be open at 5:30 a.m. to ensure people can get in before sunrise, and the store will remain open later as well.
“I just really want to earn my spot in the heart of the community because I’m in it for the long haul,” said Zylstra. “I love doing this and never want to do anything else. I always want to be there for our fishing community.”
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