Sixty years ago, when we went fishing for snapper in the Panmure Estuary, there was only one bait to use, because there was only one bait which you could buy. It was fillets of trevally which came in a cardboard packet, and it was simply labelled as fish bait.
Smart youngsters learned to wade around the rocks at the water's edge and scoop up shrimps in a sieve borrowed from mother's kitchen. When threaded on to a small hook they were irresistible to the pakete, or spotties, which lived around the wharf pilings. And passing snapper also grabbed them, as did the occasional trevally which just about pulled a skinny kid into the water if the thick, green handline became tangled.
Roll the clock forward to July 2017 and a message arrives by email: The bait of the day is chicken gizzards.
"Chicken what?" you fire back.
"You know, the tough muscly bit that comes with giblets."
"OK, tell me what's going on."
It transpires this gentleman, who owns a popular charter vessel based at Westhaven, was out fishing for snapper recently and - well he can relate the story.
"It was quite funny. I was standing next to this Asian gentleman and he was catching bigger fish than me and he looked like he never had a clue what he was doing. Once I 'stole' some of the bait from his pile the fish came thick and fast. Our filleting guy was on board and he went to the supermarket and bought a bag of them and the next day, hey presto his bin was full in pretty quick time."
The magic bait? Chicken gizzards.
If the snapper like to eat them, you can see how they would work so well for they are very tough and won't pull off like a chunk of pilchard.
The crew on the boat have refined their approach, and put a chunk of pilchard on one hook on their ledger rig and a gizzard on the other. The pillie will act as a miniature berley explosion when small fish chew on it, releasing blood and fragments.
There is also obvious potential for arming every second hook on a long-line with a chunk of gizzard, for its stickability.
One is never surprised when such stories appear, for snapper have always been caught on strange concoctions like tripe soaked in red food colouring, or liver soaked in kerosene.
And we have seen snapper caught on chunks of wild duck meat, boiled potatoes and peas. Even banana skin.
Like trout fishermen searching for the ultimate secret fly, so ocean anglers will always be coming up with their own unique lure, berley or bait that nobody else knows about.
We are always looking for an edge. Unfortunately some of our inventions are so secret that not even the fish know about them. Like some of those secret spots.
But if chicken gizzard is the new 'millennium bait', then good luck to all those prepared to try it.
Anglers fishing the Tongariro River are impressed with the improvement in the size and quality of trout running up the river from Lake Taupo. After several years of smaller fish, reports of trout averaging more than 2kg are common with many larger specimens caught, and in top condition.
This reflects an improving food supply, and one theory is that two years of stable, high lake levels have contributed to successful spawning by smelt - the main food in the lake for the trout. Smelt spawn in the shallow margins in autumn and in spring, and a stable lake level allows weed to grow in the shallows, providing shelter for the vulnerable smelt eggs and hatchlings.
After 12 years of average fishing in terms of the size and condition of trout in the lake the Department of Conservation, which manages the Taupo fishery, is introducing changes to the regulations for the next season. The minimum legal size of trout which can be taken will be reduced from 40cm to 35cm, and the daily bag limit increased from three to six fish per day. The theory is that fewer trout will improve the balance between trout population and food supply.
Tip of the week
There are other ways of trying to improve the attraction of the baits dropped into the sea. Some canny anglers will use an extra lure like a trout fly, and attach it to a short loop further up the line so it sits well above the baits. This seems to work well when bright coloured flies are used like a yellow or orange pattern. A size two Parsons Glory would do the trick. And maybe an orange one resembles scallop roe which would surely trigger a response in a passing snapper, particularly if a scallop fishing boat was towing a dredge along the seabed nearby. One angler reported hooking four fish on such a fly one day, the biggest a 6.5kg snapper.
Bite times are 10.10am and 10.35pm tomorrow and 1am and 11.25pm on Sunday. More fishing action can be found at GTTackle.co.nz.