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20 Years ago, way back in 1996, CharkBait became an Internet destination.  I’d been an early computer type guy, incorporating use of a small primitive home computer for use in business, keeping things straight for my salesmen and manufacturers while engaged in business working for Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese firms in the consumer electronics field. When I moved from private business to education, the computers came with me and I made use of those skills both in the classroom and while pursuing my masters and work on the doctorate degree. It was while working in education that I came up with CharkBait, the nickname Chark having been given me by an old buddy who I’d worked with (and who also helped me out once I started my business). Natural enough to start a fishing website as CharkBait! Meant something to me and those who knew me. The real reason behind CharkBait’s start was a bit more devious. You see, once I became a private boater I came to a realization… FINDING FISH WASN’T EASY!  So, I put 2 + 2 together and came up with an idea – NETWORK with other private boaters and figure out where to head out with a greater degree of success. So, CharkBait began as a private boater website, a destination for folks to share their fishing stories and trip reports. While we started up at the tail end of ’96, 1997 was really beginning for CharkBait.

During those early years, I’d go out on my own meager boat and post trip reports. On my time off from work I’d monitor radio traffic, communicate with boaters while they were on the water. CharkBait became an Internet destination for folks sharing their trip reports and it proved helpful – I certainly learned a lot from others, fishing success improved, and I didn’t waste so much fuel locating areas worth prospecting.  I still have many friends from those early days, and that’s very gratifying.  I met a lot of wonderful folks, and I got invited to fish from much better boats by more experienced anglers.  We got quite a bump in traffic to CharkBait when we were written up by the L.A. Times and Orange County Register, visitors increased to the CharkBait website (first hosted on…AOL).

I’d always wanted to start a business, but lacked confidence as well as resources. I’d had some opportunities, but lacked confidence to strike out on my own. Heck, I certainly lacked the money to start a business too, but timing can compensate for many other shortcomings. I was pretty good on the ‘puter, had a good business background, why not figure a way to start a business. After all, the Internet at that time put almost everyone on equal footing. I liked to say back then that when it comes to the Internet, I’m bigger than Bass Pro Shops…because I was already on-line, and no one else was in terms of promoting saltwater fishing. So, in 1997 CharkBait became a real business, the first online saltwater dealer.  I cashed in some IRA’s, used credit cards to help fund inventory (a very stupid move, but I’d always thought that retailers should actually hold inventory – that was unlike a lot of ‘net based retailers then and even now). At first I worked out of my home, before and after my “day job.”  In 1998 I got hold of a small warehouse space behind a shopping center. I’d open that barn up one day each month. Folks drove from San Diego to Santa Barbara to visit my barn and grab gear.  Within a year’s time I was opening up the barn each weekend. (pictured the Rube and Mark at our first Fred Hall Show in 1999 - Rube worked with me in a job after college, helped out some more once I started the business. Also served as best man a decade later when I finally got married. The old barn pictured right - I'd open up once a month for folks, then twice a month, then every weekend...).

There had been a space in the shopping center which had been vacant for years – no one could make a go of such a small shop in such a crappy location. But, CharkBait had some loyal friends & clients who looked as us as a destination worth traveling to visit. Those guys couldn’t care less about the space, they appreciated what I was trying to accomplish, knew that we offered very good deals based upon our efficiency of operation.  So, little CharkBait grew. In 2001 I grabbed that space, and we’re still working out of that small storefront. But, now we have many times more warehouse space as well as a shop in San Diego, our second store opened in 2009. (In 2019, after almost 10 years time I closed the San Diego shop, had some other plans back at our Huntington Beach headquarters and I was definitely growing tired of driving down once or twice a week. I also experienced the joy of yet one more tax audit, this one lasting almost 2 years time - my third since starting CB - and that wasted time suggested to me that it was best to focus our efforts and resources, make some operational changes, and improve efficiencies - 2019 changes underway). 

Back to 2001, I needed some help to pull off the shop. Again, friends helped out big time. There was a gal I knew from my stint working at a Jr. High who was not a good match for teaching, but was a hard worker and hire-able. She could cover the phones and invoicing, didn’t have to know fishing to contribute to the business in her role. Another fishing friend (Dan Wilson) volunteered to help cover the shop while I was at work. And, I began to talk another fishing friend, Tom Harman into joining CharkBait. So, I had a three people who could live on minimum wage while I tried to build up our sales volume…and I still had my day job, so I could pay them from my wages if worse came to worse (I wasn’t married, didn’t need much beyond gas, grub and darg food)...  . (Picture from 2005 Fred Hall Show with Beth, Matt, Mike and Tom)

That’s how I began CharkBait, not much to work with other than debt and sweat. But, we had the good will of a lot of folks.  There are a few more chapters to our book, but this is the background from which we came. We didn’t go into business with anyone’s deep pockets to help, we all worked hard, I saved, leveraged, risked all that I had to build a business from scratch. That’s something many people do, though perhaps we’ve had a bit more success than others who have tried. Timing does help, as does persistence, and having friends to assist. (pictured right, our last Fred Hall Show in Long Beach, the full team from 2014).


Thru the years, folks visiting CharkBait have shared tales with us, as I've shared personal milestones with our on-line friends. When my dad passed away, one of our early supporters helped me understand how the hospice service operates (nothing short of incredible, wonderful people and family assistance) and guidance. When first meeting and later courting my future wife in 2005, those travels (to Crimea) were shared. And, when she and my son Sergey arrived here, a welcoming party was held with CB friends. When I finally got married, that too was shared as was the birth of our son Mike (a Pic of the Week). CharkBait has been a bit different than most businesses I'll suggest, the connection with clients is personal.  (pictured left, first trip with wife Nadiya and son Sergey 2005. Picture right, wife with #1 and #2 sons - 2008) 

For 2019, we're going to change up our program a bit more. My oldest son has worked with me while attending school since Jr. High.  He's now finishing up college. My wife Nadiya began working at ToroTamer in 2012, running the office there and learning some new skills.  For 2019 CharkBait will become more of a mom & pop type family enterprise with my wife and son taking on more responsibility.  Nadiya has been learning from Leeana, our office manager for about a decade. Leeana moved into a new role, good fiancée and prospects for their own business, and Nadiya will run our office and assist our on-line clients. My son Sergey will oversee our shipping department and assist in our Huntington Beach shop. We have a few other plans for the future which will come into play this year...

There are more chapters to the tale, yet to be told.  Time passes quickly from fishing season to fishing season.  It's now been 20 years or so that CharkBait's been around, and I sincerely thank the folks that have made it possible. Our supportive clients and staff have enabled this enterprise survive, grow, contribute to the economy and allowed this meager fisherman the opportunity to avoid a traditional day-job and go fish'n every once in a while.  It's been a wonderful experience, and a terrific 20 year run.  Yep, there will be a couple more chapters but this book is getting pretty darn close to completion.

Great Stuff<
Mark Smith

p.s. It should be noted that back in 1996 I did in fact have hair! Perhaps not as much as was the case in the '70's, but it did exist in contrast to the current state. This may indeed add some measure of fact to the notion that grass does not grow on a busy street...or perhaps that's one more cost associated with owning a small business in the late great state of California and surviving three audits by the real TaxMan (not to be confused with the great white sharks of Guadalupe Island who go by the same name but play by more predictable rules...).

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(office closed on major holidays and weekends)

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Staff: Mark, Nadiya, David & Sergey

Phone Toll Free
Mailing Address:
CharkBait Sportfishing
16561 Bolsa Chica St. #105
Huntington Beach, CA 92649

If you are trying to reach us after 5pm weekdays or weekends, our Huntington Beach shop staff can assist. *

Please note: We're closed major holidays, both our offices and our shops.
New Years, Independence Day,  Labor Day, Thanksgiving & Christmas. We reserve the right to take off early if there's a great local bite...

On-Line Operations, Policies, Practices & Shipping

Product Info&Sales

Product Advice
& Technical Assistance


Offshore Private Boating & Long Range
Surf & Private


Inshore, Surf, Offshore  Private Boating
& Central America
(moving to Costa Rica
in 2020!)


Local Inshore & Surf

Customer Service Manager

(Shipping Dept.)

Local & Long Range
Mark's #1 Son


& Billing Questions

Mark's Boss

Likes to fish, Long Range, Central America, Texas Freshwater, splits time as a mom, Mark's wife.

CharkBait's Privacy Policy:

- We don't share nutt'n with nobody. 
We do not share any data with any other entity, we don't sell our mailing list, we don't have intrusive pop-ups, we don't collect data from your browsing only to send you nuisance reminders of things you know you've already seen.  We simply don't share confidential info with anyone. We try to treat folks as we'd like to be treated ourselves.

Orders over $150 are shipped FREE!* Orders less than $150 are billed for shipping. Upon placing your order you'll receive an immediate confirmation via email. You are not billed at that time, the confirming email may not reflect oversize or overweight charges or other issues requiring direct contact. We process orders manually, preferring to have a human actually check things over and contact you should there be questions. Within 24 hours of placing your order you will receive a follow-up email confirmation and final  invoice (pdf doc) reflecting your total charges (Monday-Friday). You are not billed until we actually send you your final invoice.  Orders shipped to CA addresses will have California Sales Taxes applied, out of state orders are tax free. During the ordering process you can select expedited shipping if required. (Within the USA we usually ship via Federal Express ground. International, and oversize/weight items will be billed for shipping and you will be sent an emailed invoice reflecting total charges prior to actual billing. We will not ship without you having had a chance to review the invoice). Hawaii and Alaska shipping will be accomplished using USPS Priority service, and our standard shipping cost policy will apply unless the item ordered does not fit in their standard size boxes. If additional shipping fees are required we will contact you.)

   WARNING:  The products offered on our website can expose you to chemicals including lead, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov

Huntington Beach

Open 5 Days a Week
Winter Hours
Tuesday thru Thursday
Friday 10AM-6PM
Closed Sunday & Monday
Huntington National
Shopping Center
16561 Bolsa Chica St. #105
Huntington Beach, CA 92649

Blake & Andy
Store Map
Tour our shop
click link above

We're closed major holidays, both our offices and our shops.
New Years, Independence Day,  Labor Day, Thanksgiving & Christmas. We reserve the right to take off early if there's a great local bite...


PLEASE NOTE, we closed our San Diego shop July 31, 2019. (Love SD, enjoyed being a part of that community, but after 9 years and 3 vehicles I traded  the weekly drive for more time at our HQ and time w/family)


Visit us on our YouTube channel: CharkBaitUSA


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CharkBait! Internet Sportfishing


Support the American Sportfishing Association - your voice for the preservation of our fishing rights.

City of Huntington Beach Business License: A179880, A207574

All rights reserved © 1996-2019
All rights reserved: All Original Images and Creative Content are the copyrighted property of CharkBait/Mark Smith.
The CharkBait name, logos and other content of this website are trademarked
, as well, the names of our proprietary lures and travel rods are tradmarked and our exclusive use is reserved by us. These registered
names include: Toro Tamer, Surf Explorer, Offshore Explorer, Inshore Explorer and of course CharkBait!

Infringement upon our legal rights to exclusivity of use will be vigorously prosecuted. That's a promise.

CharkBait makes no guarantee on merchandise, product safety or suitability beyond those claims offered by the respective manufacturers. We only offer products that we believe in. CharkBait maintains a significant inventory of the products we represent, that saves shipping time for our clients, and proves our belief in the products we represent. We stock the gear we sell, we don't depend upon a third party to handle your order.  Your order with CharkBait is given personal attention. 

We do not provide any personal information regarding our visitors and clients to anyone. That's our privacy policy. We do have banner advertising on many pages.  We are the host for that service, the ads reside on our server. We do utilize "cookies" in order to increase user friendliness and functionality of this site. Cookies are required for building your "shopping cart." Bottom line, CharkBait respects our visitors and clients. 

We maintain the site daily, but please don't hold us liable for tyyppooographical errors or price changes which are beyond our control.  All transactions are confirmed prior to shipment.  All opinions expressed are those of the author, you can take 'em or leave 'em.  Shoes and shirts are not required for service. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.  I think that about covers it.