18 Jun 2012, Posted by admin in Uncategorized, No Comments. Tagged bait salesman, Cincinnati, Hamilton, historian, journalism, multimedia, New Media Bureau, Studs Terkel, University of Cincinnati, Wholesale Bait Company, Working
Josh Turner, 26, has worked at the Wholesale Bait Company in Hamilton, Ohio, for seven years. He is the maintenance manager, and he’s also the most experienced route salesman of three drivers. An avid outdoorsman, he works at Bass Pro Shops on weekends. He has been married for nearly two years.
I wasn’t able to fish over the weekend; I had to work at Bass Pro Shops. It was a “get up, go to work, come home, go to bed” kind of weekend. I did fish yesterday.
I take a little bit (of bait) now and then. I’m not taking pounds and pounds to go fishing for a week. It’s just, you know, a cup of night crawlers here or there. But yeah, they (the bait company) treat us good with that. They let us have a little bait from time to time.
I remember when I found out about this place, I didn’t even know such a business existed. Me and my buddy from school, we were both working at a restaurant on the west side of town. He said, “Man, I went down and applied at a bait company.” So I figured I decided I’d come down, too, put an application in.
It (the job) has made me understand the size of the business and the industry, and made me realize how big of a part that this whole thing is to the industry. You have to stick with the regulations. The state of Ohio has a set of rules and regs of course. What kind of fish can be held, sold, grown and be used for bait fishing.
It’s fishers’ management. They’re mainly farm-raised fish (for bait). We purchase them from farms, and we sell them. When they’re farm-raised fish, the farms themselves are following the regulations, and that just gets passed down the line.
It’s not hard to manage. I put fresh water in it every morning… a little bit of additive to boost the electrolytes in the water. Keep it cool, buried, you’re golden. I rinse it out every night when I get back. It still doesn’t take care of the smell… it still smells like fish, but you get over that. My wife won’t ride in the truck with me (laughs). She says it smells too bad.
I don’t even think about it anymore. People say “What’s that smell?” and I’m like, “What smell?” (laughs).
If you were to ask my wife… we can be out at night, on a cool evening, and go by a pond, and the water is always gonna be warmer than the air temperature (laughs). Well, heat rises, and along with that some of the odor or scent from the pond into the cooler evening air. We’ll go by a pond, and I’ll smell that smell that I’ve been smelling for years, and my ears will perk up. She’s like “What, do you smell that pond back there?” (Laughs.)
I walk in here, and I smell that water. You know, the air is different; it’s moist all the time. It’s calming to me, a place where you’re comfortable.
You ask somebody, “What do you do?”
“I’m a steelworker.”
“What do you do?”
“I deliver bread.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a bait salesman.”
“What do you mean, you sell bait?”
And a lot of the times when I say that, people think I said “bake.” They think I’m selling cookies. I’m not kiddin ya!
It’s definitely one of a kind.
Well, on a typical day like today, I usually get here around 8 o’ clock. I make sure that all the live bait back in our tanks and so on are ok, that nothing malfunctioned overnight, because things can go wrong from time to time. Air pumps can go out, water can shut off for some reason. But just to make sure everything is still alive back there.
I’ve picked a lot up, just in general I mean. With repairs I’ve done electrical, pneumatic plumbing (laughs), roofing. And you just kinda pick it up. I’m not scared to try anything once – except maybe skydiving (laughs).
On a normal route day, I probably roll out of bed somewhere around 5 o’ clock. I get here between 5 and 6. I come in, I check my orders. Then I kinda look at what I can take out, then I adjust the numbers accordingly to what I’m gonna take. I always take extra, because you might have that one guy that might sell a bunch before you get there and will need more than what he ordered. So I always adjust accordingly.
And then I’ll bring my truck around to the… we call it “the hole.” And put water on the truck, nightcrawlers, worms, dry bait. Then I’ll load my fish and hit the road.
Try and keep the water cool, keep the air conditioning on, keep the bait cool. These 90 degrees days in the months to come, it can be a battle in itself.
– Interview, photo by Brian Behrman