Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 3, 2012

Gone fishin’

Dave’s Bait Barn a reservoir staple

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

— Seven years ago Dave McCain opened Dave’s Bait Barn, 4526 E. 100 North, believing he could always get bait to go fishing, but instead he now has little time to partake of the hobby.

The bait shop was opened in the 1980s by Jay and Jo Hamler and eventually closed. It was one of two bait shops on the reservoir, Hill’s Bait Shop closed in 1993.

McCain said Jo Hamler opened the shop when she retired to just sell worms until her husband retired.

“There was more demand than they expected,” he said.

Eventually the Hamler’s built a home in Florida that they called the “Worm House” because it was purchased with the money earned in the bait shop.

“She was tickled when I reopened,” he said.

McCain had been working as an electrical contractor, but the economy slowed .

“It was very stressful,” he said. “It was putting a toll

on me after a number of years.”

When a family member purchased the property on Sycamore Road, McCain decided the reservoir needed a bait shop.

“I love to fish and thought what better thing to do,” McCain said. “Thought if I wanted to go fishing at midnight, I could always get bait. Now I never get to fish.”

McCain said he tries to fish on holiday weekends, but that didn’t happen over the Memorial Day holiday because of the business in the shop.

Inside the shop are an assortment of rods and reels, bobbers, snack foods and other fishing related items. On a refrigerator is an assortment of pictures with fisherman displaying their catches.

The first several years the business was slow, but through word of month and the location helped the business grow over the years.

“Everything depends on the weather,” McCain said. “Last year was a difficult year. April was a bad month, but things have picked up this year after the second week in May.”

Windfall resident Don Marcum stopped in last Thursday morning to purchase some minnows to fish for crappie and blue gill.

“I sometimes stop here,” Marcum said. “It’s more convenient.”

McCain said a couple of years ago when gas prices spiked and people were out of work there was a lot of business at the shop.

“People were fishing for food,” he said.

McCain said all his worms come from Canada and the other bait offered for sale comes through a wholesaler.

He said convenience stores and other outlets are not real competition for his shop.

“They don’t check the product,” McCain said. “They get here and the worms were dead.”

McCain recommends what bait to use to catch certain breeds of fish and sells a lot of minnows.

Dave’s Bait Shop is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday through Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday from April 1 through October.

“I discovered there wasn’t much business between 6 and 7 a.m.,” McCain said. “I get a lot of business from 6 to 7 p.m. because I’m the only shop opened late.”

From October through April, McCain works odd jobs and continues to do electrical work.