Requiring additional room to grow, in 1952 the pair took their operation to Clam Bayou (Gulfport, FL), expanding on both the retail and wholesale aspects of the business. The Clam Bayou facility, at a whopping 1500 sq ft, included the partners’ first refrigerated cooler for extended product storage. Mackerel, kingfish and mullet were produced in volume at this facility, attracting wholesalers throughout Florida and from Georgia and the Carolina’s. The pair also invested in their first truck, to deliver fish locally and within Florida.
One of the brothers’ customers was a beautiful young widow who ran her own retail market in downtown St. Petersburg. Katherine Gropp Ernest billed herself in advertisements as “Pinellas County’s Only Woman Fish Dealer”. Kitty’s “Jake’s Fish Market”, eventually merged with the retail operation of the brothers’ – and Kitty later became Katherine Aylesworth, Ralph Aylesworth’s wife and another partner in the operation.
A fire at the Clam Bayou facility in 1958 precipitated a move to an even larger facility in the city of St. Petersburg. Building a 3600 sq ft processing room, a retail storefront, and a 1600 sq ft loading dock with 4 truck bays, the company expanded at this location rapidly. Freezing capabilities were added to expand the distribution range; a 540 sq ft storage freezer soon followed. Trucks and trailers complemented the expansion.
Production of all types of fish, bait, shellfish and other products dominated the business; the retail operation was discontinued; and the commercial wholesale distribution company became the driving force behind expansion. Ralph and Kitty’s son, Robert, joined the business to manage the trucking business. Trucking routes were expanded until the company was running regular routes on their own vehicles coast to coast.
Today, our current location at 1295 – 28th Street S in St. Petersburg occupies a property of over an acre. With local production discontinued, the company has recently completed a total renovation of the circa 1958 building.
Conveniently located near I-275, between exits 20 and 21, our current operation focuses on the roots of the company – fishing baits. Our sales and distribution is housed in a 19,000 sq ft warehouse, 12,000 sq ft of which is frozen storage housing the bulk of our quality frozen natural bait products. Operating hours at our sales and distribution facility are from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. We are closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Our current staff is comprised of Robert Aylesworth, an accomplished tournament fisherman, and his wife, Dawn Aylesworth, a competitive fisherman in her own right; a dedicated group of sales people, drivers and operational staff, well-versed in our product mix and it’s uses, who fish competitively whenever possible.
Aylesworth’s serves both the recreational and commercial fishing communities with their full line of baits and related products. Specializing in frozen natural baits, rigged specialty baits, world famous chums, fish attractants and related merchandise, Aylesworth’s makes deliveries throughout the Southeastern United States, nationally and internationally. We service the entire state of Florida with our own trucks on scheduled weekly delivery routes.
Our products are distinguished by their quality and convenience, our personnel by their attention to customer service. We pack in a variety of sizes and use several packaging methods. Some of the products that we distribute are packaged in-house and those that are not, must meet our stringent quality control standards.
Aylesworth’s has a commitment to the environment and the fishing community, participating in and contributing to many charity events related to fishing - especially those introducing children to fishing or benefiting children’s charities.
We also participate in the operation of the Aylesworth Foundation for the Advancement of Marine Science, which Ralph and Kitty formed in 1984. The foundation’s mission is based upon the belief that scientific knowledge in marine related areas coupled with decisions based on environmental and conservation factors will prove to be the only way to develop, utilize and manage our renewable marine resources on a long-term basis. The Foundation funds research grants, participates in the growth of marine educational projects and funds scholarships to Florida students. To date, more than 100 students representing twelve Florida universities have received scholarships totaling more than $500,000. The Foundation has also partnered with other similarly focused institutions to provide financial support for the Florida Aquarium, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Mote Marine, and Madeira Beach Middle School. In cooperation with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Foundation partnered with the Environmental Careers Organization to fund salaries of aspiring scientists in an internship program with the water management district. The foundation also contributed $100,000 toward the construction of an Aquatic Food Products Lab at the University of Florida for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
1295 – 28th Street S
St. Petersburg, FL 33712 USA