For 50 years, fleet has relied on one family
By Ed Zieralski
. . But imagine having to do it for an entire sportfishing fleet and an armada of private boaters every day during the height of the fishing season when the fish and the fishermen have an insatiable appetite for bait fish.
. . That's the chore for the Everingham Bros. Bait Co., a San Diego institution for the last 50 years. The business, which now employes it's fourth generation of the Everingham family, is anchored at the same, exact location in San Diego Bay that it was half a century ago. That's when Adolphus "Buck" Everingham (deceased) and his two sons, Charles and Roy, bought it from Lyman McDonald.
. . And the truth is, Roy Everingham wasn't all that thrilled about making bait.
. . "I hated it," Roy said, laughing. "Catching bait was the worst part of tuna fishing. Throwing those nets and hauling in the bait just killed your back and hands."
. . But Roy Everingham solved that by mechanizing the process, and today his son, Buck, 45, runs the operation. Buck's wife, Arlene, who runs the office, said the crew has a combined 160 years in the bait-making business.
. . Roy, 75, is retired now, but he left the family business in capable hands. Buck's son, Matthew, 19, when he's not attending UCSD, helps at the company's Mission Bay bait barge.
. . Buck started learning the business when he was 12. That's when Roy started teaching him all aspects of making bait, including the most important one of all, how to find it in the vast ocean.
. . "Sometimes it looks like the shadow of a cloud," Buck said. "Other times, it's two different shades of green or even less than that. You really need a keen eye."
. . For the Everinghams, it all started back in the post-World War II days. Albacore fishing had slowed to a crawl, and Roy's father, the original Buck, and brother went to work for McDonald, who then owned Mac's Bait. Soon, Roy tired of fishing tuna and joined them. And, before long, McDonald approached them about buying the buisness.
. . "I was reluctant at first," Roy Everingham said this week at the company's corporate office in Point Loma. "I didn't think a family business would work out."
. . But Roy threw in, and the first thing the family did was build a new bait boat to replace the old Californian.
. . Back then, there was competition in the bait business from Tex Brock, and there were only two landings, H&M and Point Loma. It wasn't easy, Roy said. The two barges were next to each other.
. . "Hey we struggled, man" Roy said. "Our competitor supplied H&M, and we took care of Point Loma."
. . Everingham likes to tell the story of the time Tex Brock hung out a huge sign that said, "Bait Here."
. . Other competitors came and went, but the Everinghams persevered.
. . The Everinghams have five boats, with four working at present. There's Capt. Jim Lilly on the 168.5-foot Cachalot, Capt. Joe Machado on the 118-foot EBBCO, Capt. Richard Jackson on the 58-foot A.C.E. and Capt. John Pratt on the 118-foot carrier Rival. Tom Tompkins manages the San Diego Bait Barge, and Bill Copes manages Mission Bay.
. . Buck Everingham said he and Arlene will continue to make the necessary changes to keep the business current. Today, the relationship between Roy and Buck is not only that of father and son, but of two business partners who, like any father and son or longtime business partners, had their differences. But Buck said they always worked things out, always put the family and business before all else.
a little more about the Everinghams