Howard Real of Hilmar has fished for as long as he can remember. His favorite hobby has allowed him to compete in fishing tournaments throughout the state of California and make incredible memories with his family and friends along the way.
Nearly six years ago, Real’s love for fishing took a unique turn when he began making his own fishing bait in one of his sheds. Since then, he and his wife of 27 years, Pam, have found success with Real’s Fishing Supply.
Like fishing itself, Real initially viewed his fishing supply business as a small hobby, but it wouldn’t be long until business grew in popularity amongst family, friends and other local fishermen.
Real makes a variety of products, all done by hand. These products include regular worms, senkos, jigs, swimbaits, jerk baits and creature baits like mudbugs, reapers and crawdads. All products can be made in a number of sizes, from four inches to seven inches long, as well as in certain colors through color matching.
“I never really imagined that this business would keep me so busy,” joked Real, who has also worked at Hilmar Cheese for over 32 years. “On average, I make 100 to 200 when I come home from work, and on the weekend when I’m off, I can warm up to 600 to 800 worms. I’ve gotten pretty fast.”
“The whole process can take hours,” Pam added. “You have to pour one day, it has to sit overnight, we have to trim them, then we package them, label them and then get them ready to go. It’s a process. It just doesn’t happen overnight.”
While several products are currently being offered by the business and hundreds are being made, Real explained that teaching himself to pour worms was not always a smooth ride.
“Nobody taught me. It has been a lot of trial and error by myself,” Real said. “When I first started, my colors didn’t match too good. My bloodlines didn’t wind up too well because I’d have one more color than the other one [in the soft plastic].”
Base and bloodline are names used to describe each of the colors and the amount within a given mixture of soft plastic. Now that Real has found the perfect formulas and balance for each of his creations, color matching services have also grown in popularity,
“We get calls and messages from guys all the time who have an older worm that they can’t find anywhere else, so we try our best to color match, and they always seem to be happy with what we give them,” Real said.
Real explained that his inventory naturally has to stay diverse considering the fact that every single person who fishes tends to have their own personal preferences.
“Everybody is different,” he said. “My personal preference are senkos, the FST’s and the jigs. Those are my three go-tos. It’s also different colors all the time. If I’m fishing at Delta, it will be red, black, blue. Those are my three colors.”
Family Market in Hilmar, Sport Stop in Waterford, Houseboat Mini Mart and Don Pedro Market in La Grange, Angler’s Edge in Snelling, and Valley Rod & Gun in Clovis all carry Real’s Fishing Supply products. Products can also be purchased through their website, www.realfishingsupply.com, or through their eBay, realfishingsupply.
Pam explained that orders as far east as Indiana have come in. Pam is a major force behind the business’s expansion outside of Hilmar as she runs the website and takes care of bookkeeping, packaging, labeling and shipping. Like Howard, the expansion was something she could have never imagined.
“It’s a lot of work, more work than I was expecting to do, you know,” she said. “At first it was just a hobby, now it’s full time, but it’s nice knowing that we’ve made a lot of people happy.”