How many times have you come up with a good idea and never followed through? Maybe a year later, or five years later, somebody you never heard of brings your idea to market and slugs a hanging curve out of the financial ballpark.
A Virginia veterinarian named Steve Munsey watched fish in private ponds eating pelletized commercial fish food and had the same idea everyone else in that situation has had -- what I need is a lure that looks like fish food.
Fly fishermen have tied flies to resemble tiny little brown chunks of fish food. Others have tightly bound fish-food pellets into a small piece of pantyhose and threaded it onto a hook. I've tried, unsuccessfully, to super-glue fish food to a hook and have cut brown plastic worms into fish-food-sized chunks.
Munsey took it a step further. He took actual fish food and mixed it with some form of natural rubber latex to create what is essentially a soft, flexible chunk of fish food that's easily threaded onto a small hook and, once there, incredibly hard to remove.
"I actually got the idea because my daughter and three of her friends wanted to go fishing when they graduated from high school," said Munsey. "I took them to a friend's pond where there was a fish feeder. There were plenty of fish, but the girls didn't catch them because the fish were so fixated on the feed they refused to bite anything else."
Like the rest of us who have been frustrated at the selective, piranha-like feeding frenzy when an automatic feeder dispenses pellets, Munsey was unable to get actual fish food to stay on a hook. Thus began a three-year quest that evolved into Stubby Steve's, The Artificial Fish Food Lure.
Fish feeders are very popular on private lakes, where growth rates of fish like bluegills and channel catfish can be considerably enhanced by feeding them a couple of times a day. A one-pound bluegill is a rare commodity in nature, but fish that size are common in lakes where the bluegills are fed.
"I knew that there are millions of private lake managers using feeders," said Munsey. "I figured if I could get their business, that's all the business I'd want."
A funny thing happened once Stubby Steve's got into the consumer's hands, however. Anglers discovered that fish food attracted fish that had never seen it before. Munsey's website includes testimonials from anglers who've caught a huge variety of species, both wild and hatchery-raised, on his product.
He admits largemouth bass seem less influenced by odor than species like bluegills and other sunfish, channel catfish, crappie, trout and carp, but he's heard from bass anglers who use the Stubby Steve's as an additive to a traditional bass lure.
Munsey, who holds degrees in animal nutrition, thinks the shelf life of his product is about one year, assuming it's stored in a cool, dry place. Shelf life is one reason you may never see Stubby Steve's in major sporting goods stores.
"When we sell it via the website, we're shipping out orders of fish-food lure that were made two weeks earlier," Munsey said. "I hope to make a profit one day, but I'm also interested in helping people, particularly children, enjoy their fishing experience."
A re-sealable bag of Stubby Steve's costs $4.99 and contains 20 of the lures, which are light enough to be cast on a fly rod and will float a small hook. Munsey generously supports youth fishing events and welcomes inquiries via the website, www.stubbysteve.com.