After 53 years at Port of Edmonds, Bud’s Bait calls it quits

Bud Christianson

What is arguably the longest continuous business enterprise on the Edmonds waterfront has called it quits. Yet unless you have been a saltwater fisherman sometime during the last 53 years, you may never have heard of it.

According to the Port of Edmonds, Bud Christianson, owner and founder of Bud’s Bait, has been a marina tenant for over a half century. The original Bud’s Bait goes back to 1964, just two years after Senator Henry M. Jackson cut the ribbon opening the first part of today’s marina, what we now call the south marina.

At the time, the waterfront was a hodgepodge of crumbling shingle mills, boathouses and an industrial building or two. Out near the end of one of the early uncovered docks was what was quite literally a shack — a bait shack. To the young owner, however, it was a way to be near to the life he loved, and he was also hopeful it would be a way to make a living. Well, it worked.

A few years later — in 1969 — the port expanded to its current size with the construction of the north marina. As time progressed and the port flourished the commissioners decided to provide Bud with new and larger quarters nearer the middle of the marina. But Mother Nature had other ideas.

In December 1996, before the new Bud’s Bait float could be constructed, a 100-year storm dumped some 3 feet of heavy snow on the marina and all but one of the covered docks collapsed from the weight. Three hundred boats were sunk and hundreds more were damaged. The plans for a new Bud’s Bait facility all but vanished from the project list.

Bud’s Bait

Remarkably, 14 months later, the marina was completely rebuilt and the new Bud’s Bait float was finally in place adjacent to the boat launcher. Bud has operated it continuously ever since, but as of Jan. 31, Bud’s Bait is officially out of business and Christianson begins a new life as a retiree.

The port will be removing the facility and will use the space for additional high-demand boat moorage. The marina will not be without a place for fishermen to get ice and bait, however. According to Port Executive Director Bob McChesney, All Season Charters, located on the ground level of the building housing Arnie’s Restaurant, will have both available.

“The port wishes Bud the very best in his retirement,” McChesney said. “His ongoing contribution to the port and its users has been exceptional. I know that his many customers over the years will miss him and we will too. Thanks Bud, and have a happy retirement.”

— Courtesy Port of Edmonds


  1. Buds Bait has been a dependable source of quality fresh herring for many sucessfull salmon and halibut fishing trips over the years. it is too bad that the tribal commercial fishing interests fail to negotiate a fair division of the harvestable catch to include sport fishing. This past summer and fall they fished with destructive gillnets for Coho Salmon while sport salmon fishing was shut down except a short selective Chinook season. This really hurt local fishing related busineses like Buds Bait. Also having the fishing pier closed while it was being upgraded had an impact. Thanks Bud for being there all those years.

  2. Each year on my Grandma’s birthday, my Grandpa, George Walsh, would go buy 4 or so Dungeness crab from Bud. As part of this ritual my brother and I would have to go along. The bait house always smelled like a bait house, and one time I asked “why don’t we just get grandma crab from QFC?” “Because Bud has the freshest crab” he responded. Thanks Bud for helping make Edmonds, Edmonds.

  3. We are going to dearly miss Bud’s, especially for his fresh Dungeness crab during the holidays! There currently is no other local source to replace Bud! Why did the EDN not include an interview with Bud for this story? Perhaps a follow-up can be done. I heard (from a very good source) that Bud did not intend to close the business but lost his lease from the Port.

  4. For the record, I must say there is a classic misunderstanding with regard to Bud’s Bait lease. Bud’s lease was not terminated by the Port. Rather, his lease expired effective June 30, 2016. In anticipation of that date Bud reached out to the Port in April and expressed his concerns about staying in business; ie. his age/health, lack of fishing, etc. I met with him personally. He told me it was time for him to give it up, but asked for a six month extension to wind down his business and sell off inventory. We of course accepted his notice and agreed to the extension up to December 31st, 2016. There was no misunderstanding at the time, and shouldn’t be any now. Yes, the Port is planning to remove the floating barge that Bud has been leasing. Of note, the Port built that barge for Bud to begin with. If everything goes according to plan the Port will relocate PSE/Chilkat Express whale watching operation to that location. It makes sense. Meanwhile, Bud called me in December to reconfirm his plan to close the business. He asked for an additional 3weeks extension, to which we had no objection and agreed to extend until January 16th, 2017 at which time he vacated the premises. Again, the Port did not terminate Bud’s lease. He closed his business for his own reasons. The Port appreciates Bud’s long term tenancy. We recognize the many relationships he’s developed with Port staff, customers, and all the visitors to the Port of Edmonds Marina. We wish Bud well, and stand ready to assist him during this difficult transition period. Thank you.

    Robert E. McChesney
    Executive Director
    (425) 774-0549

  5. It may come as a surprise to Mr. McChesney, but some of us understand Edmonds ‘behind the scenes’ politics, all to well, as many of us watched the back room deals, trades, swaps, etc., some involving the Edmonds PD, that went against both common sense and common decency, including being against public opinion.

    One of the most humorous was that ghastly ‘dolphin’ “fountain” in the middle downtown, put there by the ‘esteemed’ city council. The ‘artist’ was related to a ‘person of power’, and public money was spent, not only on the ‘art’, but on revamping the roadways as well.

    We Edmonds High students promptly let the animus of the community toward the ‘art’, the City Council, and other political elites, be known, by soaping said ‘fountain’: this soon became a tradition.

    Some people’s building permits were delayed or denied, some people’s business licenses had ‘trouble’ being renewed, or business upgrades were denied or unreasonable requirements were demanded. “Power politics” were part and parcel of how Edmonds Law Enforcement worked hand in hand with the various departments of City Government, in making people bow down to the wishes of the power elites.

    So, given that kind of history concerning how ‘decisions’ are made by far too many people, for far too long in Edmonds, Mr. McChesney should NOT be surprised,, that more than a few people would quite easily believe that some ‘back room’ shenanigans might well have taken place, in the closing of Bud’s Bait Shop.

    Yes, some younger people will readily disbelieve what I’ve stated, concerning ‘how things were done’ “back in the day”, but I was there for some of it, and I saw some of it, and knew other folks who had either witnessed first hand such events and machinations, or had immediate friends or business associations, who had endured such heavy handed politics, but their disbelief will not annul the reality of the past.

    “Question Authority” used to be a motto of youth and days gone by; apparently, less and less is the case these days.

  6. Does anyone know if Bud hangs out at any public establishments (coffee shops, diners, pubs, etc.)? I’d love to catch up with him one more time.

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