Couple bite the bullet with new fish bait

FISHY TREATS: Stoke couple Jim and Chris Jobe with their dehydrated bait bullets for wharf fishing.
FISHY TREATS: Stoke couple Jim and Chris Jobe with their dehydrated bait bullets for wharf fishing.

There's something fishy going on in Jim and Chris Jobe's Stoke backyard - and if all goes well it's coming to a store near you.

Jobe is an arborist by day and a fish-bait developer by night.

He's spent 12 years working on a secret formula for a new kind of organic fish bait made from fish leftovers.

Now, he's packaging it up in airtight bubble packs.

All that work - often up until midnight and most of the weekends that he hasn't spent fishing - has culminated in the launch this week of the Jimmys Bait Co range of baits for wharf fishing.

It's a backyard operation at the moment, and all the work is being done by Mr and Mrs Jobe and other family members. But if it catches on as they hope it will, it won't be long before they're setting up a factory and hiring staff.

Jobe won't divulge his secrets but his bait's biggest potential selling points are that it's almost odourless in its dehydrated state, lasts indefinitely in its packaging, and comes in just the right two sizes for putting on the typical fishing rigs used for wharf fishing.

It's been extensively tested and he said it measured up to any other bait on the market, with the advantages of being made from natural ingredients, yet clean and easy to use.

The packaging has been sourced in Nelson from Packaging House, with printing done by Printhouse, and the first outlets to sell the products are in the Nelson region.

Samples have been sent to New Zealand's television fishing gurus and potential outlets around the country and  Jobe hopes that his little brown baits will be available nationwide by the end of the fishing season, which loosely begins at Labour Weekend and continues until Easter.

As well as a huge amount of time, the family has invested about $40,000 to get the product this far.

Jobe, who worked for two of New Zealand's big bait producers in Auckland for 17 years, said he took proven fish bait - squid, kina and bonito - rendered it down and reformed it into a shelf-stable product.

A keen amateur fisherman, he said he was lucky to have been in an industry he enjoyed. The family moved from Auckland to Nelson 14 months ago "for lifestyle reasons".

The new product, called "the bait bullet" was specially designed for wharf fishing, and would be ideal for serious fishermen catching baitfish, and for mums and dads taking their kids fishing. Unused baits could stay in the tackle box until next time.

"The magic of the product is that the baits start releasing an outer layer as the moisture is taken in, but they stay very firm on the hook on the inside."

He's confident he's got the right formula to bait the hooks on flasher and sabiki rigs, which use colour to attract the attention of fish, and at the right price - $5.50 for a single pack of 30 small baits and $9.95 for a double pack.

The price is competitive with existing frozen baits sold at many outlets such as service stations, kept low because he uses commercial fishing "byproduct" sourced from outside Nelson, some of it from "not too far away".

Jack mackerel, yellow-eyed mullet, kahawai, gurnard and spotties are some of the species that have already fallen prey to the "bait bullets" and Jobe expects they will be catching small snapper once the annual influx arrives in Tasman Bay and comes through the Cut. He thinks the bait will gain a following, and is planning a range of bigger sizes made in the same way, tailored for different rigs and fish.

"Anyone can launch a new product on to the market. Getting someone to come back the second time is the hard bit."