Bucksaw Resort and Marina Spotlight

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For anglers who have fished Missouri’s famed Truman Lake at any point over the past four decades, it’s likely that experience included a stop at Bucksaw Resort and Marina.

Located in Clinton, Missouri, and founded in the early 1980s, Bucksaw is one of several marinas on Truman Lake, with others including Osage Bluff Marina, Long Shoal Marina, Truman State Park Marina and Sterett Creek Marina.

Premier Angler recently had the chance to speak with Rick and Tonya Gilley, who recently purchased the marina. We discussed the logistics, rewards, and challenges of running a full-scale lodging, bait shop and marina operation.

Learning More About Bucksaw Resort and Marina with Owners Rick and Tonya Gilley

Premier Angler: Rick, Tonya, thank you for taking some time to chat with us today. Let’s begin with the basics — when did Bucksaw Resort and Marina open its doors? What can you tell us about the origins of the marina, and what amenities has the marina added since its inception?

Gilley: Bucksaw opened its doors in 1982 and has been through several owners over the years. We purchased the property in August of 2018. Bucksaw features a 40-unit lodge, 6 cabins, 18 floating cabins on the water, a three-bedroom suite over the marina store and 6 basic sleeping rooms. We also have 200 boat slips and 100 RV Camp sites that are rented both seasonally and nightly.

Bucksaw Marina Lodge
Lodge at Bucksaw Resort and Marina

Premier Angler: Shifting gears, let’s talk about the marina store. Your website talks about the vast selection, but what can anglers fishing on Truman Lake expect to find at the store?

Gilley: Live bait of course, but additionally we try to keep a variety of the latest tackle, oil, batteries, snacks, ice, sodas, beer and apparel. We also carry a selection of camping and RV supplies for our RV customers. Oh, and we shouldn’t forget to mention our restaurant inside the store where we serve a delicious home-style menu.

Premier Angler: Over the past few weeks, we have talked with a series of smaller, independent bait shops to discuss the logistics of running their operations in the “information age”. Obviously, there is a real benefit to having your bait shop located within the marina on a popular lake. What have you found to be the greatest benefits of having a bait shop located on site?

Gilley: We love that we are a “one stop shop” — once you are at the resort, there is really no reason to leave. It is convenient to the customer to know that they can get everything they need in one place. 

Premier Angler: Conversely, what have been some of the challenges of owning and maintaining the shop in addition to the marina, the resort, etc.?

Gilley: There is a lot of infrastructure on the resort and we offer a variety of lodging opportunities; maintaining all of those working cogs can be challenging. Having a dedicated marina staff certainly helps keep the daily challenges in check, and it is definitely never boring!  We always say, “even on our worst days… we are still at the lake!” We love the lifestyle and challenges are just part of the landscape.

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Premier Angler: Bucksaw has a pretty good location, situated between several smaller towns on Truman Lake. Unlike many other bait shops throughout the country, there aren’t a plethora of big box stores in close proximity to Bucksaw. Do you believe there is a benefit to shopping at smaller, locally-owned bait shops?

Gilley: Depends on what you are looking for — a big box or a larger place may have a greater selection. However, since our bait shop is local and basically serves our resort and marina customers directly, we have the opportunity to focus on having what they need to specifically fish Truman Lake.

Premier Angler: Bucksaw has a pretty active Facebook account with over 10,000 followers. It also has a modern, attractive website. For independent bait shops, marinas, or any business in the fishing industry really, how important is it to be active on social media and engage with your current and potential customers?

Gilley: It is important to engage with your customers on a regular basis.  The main reason of course is that they don’t forget we are here! We utilize our social media to inform current and potential customers of events, progress on upgrades, renovations and other local interest stories. It keeps our customers talking about us and keeps Bucksaw in their minds. We are lucky that so many of our customers grew up here and came here as kids and have amazing memories of Bucksaw. It’s as much their home (or more) as it is ours. 

Premier Angler: What do you believe is the most important factor that goes in to running a successful bait shop?

Gilley: Definitely just meeting the needs of your customers — if they are happy with the quality, quantity, and availability, they will keep coming back. 

Premier Angler: What else should customers, whether past, present, or future, know about Bucksaw Resort and Marina?

Gilley: We are proud to be the only full-service resort on Truman Lake. It has allowed us to host many popular fishing tournaments on Truman Lake.  We have a swimming pool, we rent pontoons boats, and we provide meeting and banquet facilities for large groups such as family reunions, weddings, and corporate retreats! In 2018, we hosted the National Crappie Masters Championship, and this year we will host the Lady Bass Anglers National Championship.   

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