Sales slump for local bait shops as temps rise

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Only three trucks were at the boat landing in Clearview Tuesday - a sign the weather is too hot for fishers. | Kendra Bolling/Star-News

As temperatures soar to in the upper-90s, people are trying to stay cool, and that includes fishermen. And for several local bait and tackle shops, that’s hurt the business.

“Normally it would pick up about this time,” Conecuh Bait and Tackle owner Tony Turner said. “But the heat has really put a damper on things.”

While Turner said that business usually tapers off when temperatures reach the high points, it usually isn’t this early in the season.

“Last year it dropped off in July,” he said. “But it was the last week of May, first week of June. There’s just not that many fishermen out there.

Turner said the fishermen who are braving the heat are doing so early in the morning and at night.

“We’re seeing more fishing at night. They go in early and are out by 8 or 9 a.m. and go back in around 4 or 5 p.m.,” he said. “I’m open until 9 at night, but the majority of my week day business has been from the guys working the fields across the road. We’re doing a little bit of bait and tackle on weekends.”

Turner isn’t the only one experiencing the pains of the heat.

“The guys I get my bait from say they are seeing the same thing,” he said. “It’s just too hot.”

Just how bad has business taken a hit?

Turner said on a good weekend he has made $600 – $700, but last weekend he raked in about $200.

“Thankfully, my family only depends on this for about 20 percent of our income,” he said.

Randall Holland at Holland’s Country Store in Gantt said business is slow for his store, too.

“It’s tough out there,” he said of the heat. “Around the lake, people are retired, they don’t want to get out there and get hot. We’ve had this store about two or three years and lately I do good to make $100 in a month.”

Holland said for his store, sales typically consist of more bait than tackle.

“Between the worms that die and not selling a lot, we barely break even,” he said.

Holland said he keeps the store open for the enjoyment, not the profit.

“If I kept it open for the profit, I’d be in trouble,” he said.

While those two shops are experiencing hard times, Wages Market in River Falls on Hwy 84, is seeing steady business.

“We still have people getting crickets and worms,” said employee Jamie Wages.

“In fact, we sell crickets like there is no tomorrow. It’s one of our biggest sellers.”

Wages said they have a lot of weekend traffic.

“We’re open 7 to 7 daily,” she said. “We’ve been open since 1999.”