Bay Baits Grand Opening and Fishing Tournament Nov 4
October 16, 2017 by Manny Chavez
Business partners Phillip Poundstone and Jacob Watkins are always hungry for a new business venture.
“We realized the need for a bait and tackle shop for the bay. There are several bait shops in the area, but most are geared towards the beach,” says Phillip. “The Choctawhatchee Bay is one of the best things we have here in SoWal and we are the only bait shop dedicated to the bay. With Pilcher Park opening underneath the 331 bridge, we realized this location (we’re only 4-500 yards from the park and boat launch) would provide a great opportunity for our bait and tackle services.
They are located on the southeast side of the Hwy 331 bridge, next to Kathleen’s Kottage and The Bay Restaurant, very convenient to the new Pilcher Park, pier, and boat launch under the Hwy 331 bridge.
"We’re also just down the road from another popular boat launch at Cessna Landing (on Hwy 393 North at Hogtown Bayou)," explains Phillip. "A lot of people have been coming in and buying our live shrimp to fish at Pilcher Park’s 300-foot fishing pier. They have been catching a lot of redfish…the park offers a great family activity with restrooms and tables set up for picnics. Walton County did a great job with Pilcher Park.”
Store manager Evan Soroka, along with store associates Lloyd Anderson and Jim Joyce, are all avid fisherman who can “walk the talk” when it comes to fishing the bay.
Evan, who came over from a local fishing charter operation, can turn you on to bay fish. With a large assortment of live bait (shrimp, bull minnows, fiddler crabs), and frozen bait (bonito, cigar minnows, squid, shrimp, sand fleas, menhaden), the bait shop can provide bay fisherman with all that they need. The store carries a great assortment of rods and reels, fishing lures, Yeti coolers, hunting apparel and duck decoys, and some ammo. Beer, ice, and various snacks are also available.
Rental services include various Hobie products such as the Mirage Drive Eclipse (a pedal-drive SUP with handlebars), the Mirage (a pedal-driven kayak) and the Outback (pedal-driven, geared for fishing kayak). Standard paddleboards and sit-on-top kayaks are also available for rent. Bay Baits can deliver these fun watersport vehicles to you at Cessna Landing or Pilcher Park. Kayak rental fees are $75 for four hours or $125 for 8 hours. These fun water vehicles are not rentable anywhere else in the SoWal area.
“Soon we will be adding sunset adventures to our fare,” explains Phillip. “These will be guided paddle or kayak tours. We will also be referring folks to chartered tours in the bays and bayous…we will be spreading the business to these charter outfits.
Although Bay Baits opened this past May, they are planning quite a Grand Opening shindig on Nov. 4th. On this day they will have their first annual Bay Baits Benefit, a family fishing tournament/party which will benefit two local charities, The Sonder Project and Food for Thought.
There will be several species categories - trout, redfish, flounder, and catfish allowed at weigh-in with two entry divisions, Adult and Child. Individual entry fees will be $25/entry (fee includes lunch, goody bag and raffle ticket) with fishing allowed anywhere on Choctawhatchee Bay. Hooks may enter the water no earlier than 7 a.m. Weigh-ins will begin at Bay Baits beginning at 4 p.m.
The first-place winner in each category will receive a $250 gift card to Bay Baits with the second-place winners taking home $100 gift certificates to Bay Baits. The benefit party will go from 4-8 p.m. and will include music, food, raffle items, a silent auction and drinks. Beer will be sponsored by Grayton Beer Company, food will be sponsored by Grayton Beach Catering, and music will be provided by the Graytones. Party food and drinks are included in the entry fee. Or, if you’re not fishing, food and drinks are available by donation. Registration can be made online at www.baybaits.com or at the Bay Baits store.
“We are going to have a LOT of prizes and we are also going to have two large tailgate TV’s set up so people can watch football…we don’t want people to miss an event because of football,” laughs Phillip. “We want to be known as the ‘go to’ spot for bay fishing. Our staff is very well versed in fishing of all kinds (fly, bay, gulf, etc.). We take pride in helping everyone who comes in. We can help coach people on all levels. Going into some bait and tackle shops can be very intimidating. We will put people at ease and help them be excited about their fishing experience. All our tackle has been used by us, so we can talk about it. Our staff members update our Facebook posts with the latest information regarding fishing in this area.”
For more information, to register for the tournament, or to just talk fishing, call 850-278-6292. Hours: 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday-Sunday. Address: 24295 U.S. Hwy. 331 South (next to Kathleen’s Kottage, just south of The Bay Restaurant). Web: www.baybaits.com.