Let’s Look Back – Part 28

You're looking at an Uncle Josh Pollywoggler attached to a Johnson Silver Minnow.  The combination was one of my best early day lures for fishing pad cover.  Note the red yarn that sticks out of each side of the Pollywoggler's head. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

You’re looking at an Uncle Josh Pollywoggler attached to a Johnson Silver Minnow. The combination was one of my best early day lures for fishing pad cover. Note the red yarn that sticks out of each side of the Pollywoggler’s head. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Every time I start looking back – as the name of this column suggests – sooner or later I wind up thinking about the pork of a pig. If you’ve been reading these recent columns you know what I’m talking about.

I’ve told how I caught my first bass away back in 1936 on a self carved piece of pork that I’d hung behind a dime sized spinner. I’ve also detailed how I fell in love with the plain old Pork Chunk the good folks at Uncle Josh came up with.

I’ve been asked several times just when the different kinds of pork rind first came on the angling scene. Evidently it all got started around 1920. A guy named Alan Jones and one of his fishing buddies got the pork rind ball rolling then in the State of Wisconsin.

From what I’ve been able to find in the records, Jones and one of his buddies were dedicated bass anglers and mostly used live frogs for bait. Those darn frogs could sometimes be hard to find so they started searching for something else that might work just as well.

Imitation frogs carved out from the hide of a hog turned out to be the answer. As I understand it, the Jones family had a dairy farm. The business also raised pigs and sold pork sausages along with its other dairy farm products.

Those dead pigs, of course, provided an abundance of the material necessary for the production of pork rind baits. Jones and his fishing pal eventually came up with the name “Uncle Josh” for their early pork rind baits.

The Pollywoggler was one of the first pork rind lures produced by the Uncle Josh Bait Company. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The Pollywoggler was one of the first pork rind lures produced by the Uncle Josh Bait Company. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

One of the earlier Uncle Josh products turned out to be another of my favorites. Have you ever heard of a pork rind bait called a “Pollywoggler”? As far as I know this particular Uncle Josh bait hasn’t been marketed now for years. But, as I’ve already mentioned, it evidently was one of the first to hit the market when Uncle Josh really started making an impact on the bass fishing lure market.

The Pollywoggler didn’t have a body as large as some of the company’s pork frogs that came along later. Unlike most of the later models, it had only a single tail. Another feature the Pollywoggler had that none of the company’s other baits did was a short length of red yarn that came out on either side of the chunk’s head.S

I didn’t use the Pollywoggler all by itself as I usually did the plain Uncle Josh Pork Chunk. It did, however, become one of my all time favorites when used along with another of my favorite early day lures – the Johnson Silver Minnow.

As I’ve mentioned several times in these Let’s Look Back columns, for many years I had the wondrous good fortune to have ready access to Silver Lake in Southwest Washington State. I fished that lake for the first time while I was still in high school prior to World War II.

I started going to that lake twice a week, or so, once I got back from World War II and acquired a car. The car got me from our home in Longview to the lake, which was about 24 miles away.

Eventually my wife and I were able to purchase property on the Silver Lake shore. We wound up building a home there and lived right on the lake shore for more than 35 years. My bass boat was about 60-feet from our front door all year long.

Ask anybody who has ever fished bass at Silver Lake about the predominant cover the lake provides for its bass and panfish and you’re a cinch to hear that it’s lily pads. And if you’re a pad fisherman yourself, odds are you’ve probably got a Silver Minnow or two somewhere in your tackle box.

I wish I had a couple of bucks for every Silver Lake bass I put in my boat using a Number 2 Silver Minnow along with an Uncle Josh Pollywoggler. I tried most of the other Uncle Josh pork products that eventually came to market along with my Silver Minnows but none even came close to producing as did my red whiskered Pollywoggler.

If you’ve ever eyeballed a Silver Minnow you know it has a weed guard. And it’s a weed guard that does one heck of a good job. But I don’t care how effective the weed guard is, you can hang up any lure in heavy pad cover if you let your line lead it into the lure-trapping “V” that’s always a part of a lily pad top itself.

Avoiding that kind of hang up was one of the most important keys to my successful approach with the Silver Minnow & Pollywoggler pad fishing combination. I found that by using one of my longer rods and taking care where I dropped my minnow and its pork trailer with shorter casts I could usually make the lure wobble its way back through and around the pad cover without undue difficulty.

I caught my first bass that topped 6-pounds using the Pollywoggler behind my Silver Minnow. A six pound bass might not be all that big where you live. I can assure you it looked like a whopper to me. I was then still a relative newcomer to bass fishing on Pacific Northwest waters.

I was eventually to take a good many larger bass out of this lake I got to know so well. But at the time I was so darned excited I had that first 6-pounder mounted.

Actually, pork rind was to eventually play a role in letting me take some of the largest bass I ever did get at Silver Lake. I’ll be talking about that in my next column. How it came about just might be something you’d like to consider trying yourself.