At an early age, and possessed by the excitement of catching monster fish, I'd spend hours gazing at the collection of my grandad's old chromed lures and flys, pondering the combination I'd use to lure a catch on my next mission to the local wharf. Laying awake the night before, living out the day before it has begun, the comments of passers-by, as they peered into my bucket full of sprats and yellowtail, a fat johnny alongside, tail extending from a wet rag. While my missions did not always go as planned, the anticipation of the trip ahead, at times, proved more exciting than the day itself. As I reached my early teens, my dad and I upgraded from the local wharves to the charter boats of the Bay of Islands and Whitianga, taking my obsession to an entirely new level.
Four decades on, nothing much has changed. Days or weeks of essential preparation lead up to the trip itself, with nights spent gazing through the lure bags, reminiscing previous battles, choosing the right mix of shapes, sizes and colours that would complete my arsenal and hopefully make for a successful trip out wide.
Lures for guys likened to shoes for girls?
"You can never have enough, and no, they don't all look the same!" I discovered this when my obsession took me to the islands of Hawaii and the east and west coast of the USA in search of pre-loved game fishing lures from deceased estates, car boot sales and other collectors. Spending my evenings polishing and skirting these handcrafted masterpieces, some dating back to the '70s and '80, pondering their gouges and scrapes, evidence of past encounters.OCD or Avid Collector?
A comparison search on Trademe returned 23,475 pairs of 'used' shoes, compared with just 56 'used' game fishing lures. I respect that shoes may be considered an essential item, each to their own. All I knew was my obsession wasn't as the problem once thought. Instead, I was, in fact, an avid collector!
During those years of collecting, I learned of the many great craftsmen, some long passed, others like Steve Coggin, still crafting lures 50 years on. Never imagining the collective skill, artistry and proven successes that lay beyond our local waters—discovering those with pearlescent inserts of natural shell, honed faces and exacting tapers, yielding powers to lure colossal fish from the deep. I was like a kid in a sweet shop. I'd discovered something more incredible than shoes!
2020 The world is a different place
Kicking around the house during the lockdown of March 2020, I realised the importance of a hobby, a pastime, a passion for something that can detach you from the day-to-day. At least for the sake of my family's sanity, I needed a reason to move into the shed!
Level-4 lockdown in the shed, and New Zealand was in the middle of a game season that had started with a roar. Unable to leave the shoreline, days in the shed turned into weeks. Looking through my collection of lures, the idea behind Blue Ocean Lures began. To introduce to New Zealand, proven lures made by the master craftsmen and earlier pioneers I'd connected with over the years, the Facebook messenger chats began, and the rest is history.
September 2020 Blue Ocean Lures goes live. Building a website, writing copy, and learning to take good photos were all learning curves that quickly saw me move from the shed to the office. With countless hours spent pursuing a platform to showcase the lure makers I was to represent.
September 2021 and with many happy customers who have put their trust in my online store and me. I find myself again in lockdown, deeply engrossed in digital learning, to best share the enjoyment of browsing collections of superbly crafted lures while collaborating with some of the best lure makers in the world on custom designs and colours suited to our New Zealand fishery.
I hope you enjoy browsing my Blue Ocean Lures online store and that you find something special for your next mission out wide. Thank you for trusting Blue Ocean Lures NZ — Neil McGowan