It's funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same. I pride myself on trying new fishing techniques, new lures, new poles, new line, etc. I'll often be one of the first to buy the latest, greatest thing.

But recently, I rediscovered a couple of old standbys, and I love fishing with these things again. I suppose that part of the appeal for me is that these two items are not easy to find, and, at least in my circle of fishing buds, I'm one of the very few with these two phenomenal fish-catching items in my boat.

Let me tell you the story. Fifteen years ago, I sold chemical supplies to Sabine Manufacturing in Many, La. These folks are out of business now, but at the time, they made soft-plastic fishing lures - everything from worms to grubs to crawdads to frogs.

My customer, maintenance man Jimbo, was a part-time fishing guide on Toledo Bend. When I'd make my sales calls, he and I would end up in the break room drinking coffee and talking more about fishing than chemicals. Jimbo was a bass fisherman by trade, but he loved to crappie fish, too.

"Hey, Zep Man (that's me), what's your favorite crappie bait?" Jimbo asked me one day.

"Well, I'll tell you, Jimbo. I love fishing with these little baby crawdads," I said as I pinched my thumb and forefinger together showing their approximate size. "They're about an inch, maybe an inch and a half long, and they come in several colors. I worm 'em onto a yellow or orange 1/16th ounce jig head and doctor 'em with a little Real Craw. They're killer baits on Barnett.

"But I can't find them any more. The local bait shops around Barnett have stopped carrying them."

My buddy Jimbo just sat there grinning, smoking and sipping his coffee. I still remember the curious way he said, "Follow me, Zep Man" after he finished his smoke and coffee. I followed Jimbo through the plant, back to the shipping department.

He asked the shipping clerk where item number such and such was, and she pointed to the far corner, top shelf. Jimbo got a ladder and scrambled to the top deck of the shipping department. I didn't realize we were in the crawdad department until Jimbo dropped that first box down to the floor to me.

"Open her up, Zep Man. See what you find."

I ripped the top of the box open, and there before my eyes were the most baby crawdads I'd ever seen in one place at one time, and they were my favorite color - motor oil! There were thousands of these little hard-to-find beauties right there in front of me.

Then one box after another came flying down from Jimbo as he gleefully pushed every color they had from the top deck to the floor.

Jimbo climbed down the ladder and popped the top on the other boxes, and before I realized what he was doing, he was throwing double handfuls of every color into plastic bags. With the biggest Santa Claus-like laugh, Jimbo presented these treasures to me.

"There you go, Zep Man. Now remember where you got 'em."

That was 15 years ago, and not long after that, my sales territory changed, I lost contact with Jimbo and, eventually, my crawdad supplier went out of business. Now I still use these little secrets, and I love them.

Jim McKay, a fishing buddy of mine, was catching three fish to my one as we jigged our way down a favorite ledge at Barnett Reservoir one day. We were both using the new Bobby Garland Baby Shad jig skirt (which I like a lot, too), but Jim was really teaching me a lesson that morning.

After an hour of this humiliation, I threw my jig poles down, and said, "I'm tired of this. Where are my crawdaddys?"

I found them squirreled away in the bottom of my dry-storage box. Quickly, I downsized my jigheads to a yellow 1/16-ouncer, wormed on a couple of crawdads - one black/red and one motor oil - and found my last half bottle of Real Craw.

"What's that, Paul? Your secret weapon?" Jim chuckled from the back seat of my Bass Cat.

"You're about to find out, buddy," I replied in a strain as I lifted the first 2-pounder into the boat. And then it was on. I showed no mercy to the fish or to Jim. I had him begging for a "dab of that crawdad juice, Paul, just a dab" before day's end.

As another of my fishing buds, Charles Lindsay, would say, that experience got me to doing some serious "sherlocking." I knew both the Real Craw and the baby crawdads were no longer being manufactured, but I had a couple of phone numbers back in Many, and after getting hold of the local bait and tackle store, I found Jimbo. He's still a fishing guide on Toledo Bend, and he recalled the baby crawdads.

"Give me a day or two, Zep Man. I'll try to track some down for you."

A couple of days later Jimbo called.

"Hey, Paul, I talked to the original mold maker of that baby crawdad. He said that H&H Lure Company bought that mold, and had those baby crawdads in their catalog.

Great, one down, one to go. After a couple of internet searches and phone calls, I finally found a fishing supply store in California that had a supply of the old, now practically extinct Riverside Real Craw. I was so surprised that this stuff still existed. It hasn't been made in at least 7 years.

I bought $50 worth - their minimum internet order - and when that first case arrived and I saw for sure that it was the real deal, I called and ordered another $50 worth.

The last time I bought some, about 3 or 4 years ago, I had to pay a guy in a fishing supply store in Nebraska double his advertised price just to get him to ship me a case.

"Mister, I save this stuff for my regular customers," the guy from Nebraska said. "You know I can't replace my stock. They don't make this stuff any more, and we love it up here. You know there are over 300 crawfish in every bottle, right? Shoot, I have to ration this stuff out."

"Yep, yep, I know, sir. I'll tell you what, buddy, you want $3 a bottle from your regular customers, right? Well, how's $75 for a case of 12 bottles sound to you?"

"Mister, you just became my newest best customer. My last case of Real Craw is headed to Mississippi. Hope you catch 'em as big as they grow down there."