There is a fish that can be found in most harbours and is common in marinas and in many fish-and-chip shops, although customers would never know. It is the humble parore; at times mistakenly called a black snapper.

The parore has earned many unpleasant names through its propensity for consuming anything in the water. With so many people living in our big cities all sorts of things find their way into the harbours, and the parore love to hang around the unsavoury overflows. Enough said.

But as its natural and preferred dinner is vegetation, including weed and algae which they graze off the surface of wharf piles and rocks, the parore is rarely caught on hook and line. Some imaginative youngsters occasionally convince the parore that dough or cheese are worthwhile substitutes, and scraps of tuatua or mussel have been known to fool them.

The Australians respect the parore for the nuggety little fighter that he is and go to great lengths to get him on to a hook. They even make special extra-long rods and use special techniques to catch what they call luderick or blackfish.

In our younger days, a friend and I used to employ a similar technique at Birkenhead Wharf and Orakei Wharf, and our preferred tackle was a slender fibreglass trout fly rod and a light spin reel equipped with 3kg monofilament line. We made floats out of cork and feather quills, crimped tiny split shot below the float then tied on special size 8 long-shanked hooks imported from Britain. It was more like traditional English coarse fishing than Kiwi weekend stuff.

In mangrove swamps we found soft, slimy blanket weed. A 7cm piece was suspended above the hook then wrapped around the shank. A handful of chopped weed mixed with sand and breadcrumbs tossed into the slow-moving current would get the parore in the right frame of mind. The baits were floated past the rock wall and under the wharf piles.

The technique was to walk slowly along the wharf following your float until it stopped, then slipped under the surface. Sometimes the float would bob up again, but when it stayed under you struck. The name "bronze battler" is well earned, and the trout rods bent alarmingly, with at least one of us always busy fighting a tough parore during the hour either side of high tide.

Then, when the fish was sufficiently subdued, a long-handled trout net was used to hoist it up on to the wharf where the hook was removed and the parore dropped back into the water to fight another day. Of course, a bending rod always attracts the attention of other people with the same objective, and a sunny weekend afternoon would bring all types out of the woodwork.

They would usually be sitting on folding camp chairs carefully arranged around a chilly bin filled with ice and cool beverages of the entertaining kind.

The father would explain how to impale a pilchard on a large hook hanging from a tree-stump of a rod capable of hoisting a 100kg stingray from the depths. The bait would be cast halfway across the harbour and one unlucky youngster delegated to hang on to it while the father popped a can of beer and gave instructions to all within range on how to catch fish.

Meanwhile, our floats bobbed along on the sparkling green surface adjacent to the wharf piles under our feet, and invariably slid under the surface when right beside the 4m surf rod.

The other weekend anglers could never resist asking the inevitable question, in fact the only one that is ever proffered: "What are you using for bait?"

"Why, seaweed," we replied innocently. "Rubbish!" they scoffed as they clumped back to their lifeless rods.

Well, we told the truth.

Perhaps that was the problem.