Pork: The Forgotten Bait – Part Two

Al Foss was a major pork rind manufacturer amongst other lures of the day. In this ad from 1923, they're showcasing their lures made specifically for pork rind, not to mention their pork itself.

Al Foss was a major pork rind manufacturer amongst other lures of the day. In this ad from 1923, they’re showcasing their lures made specifically for pork rind, not to mention their pork itself.

In Part One of this series on pork rind, we talked a bit about the back-and-forth history of the bait and its importance in the annals of bass fishing. Today we’re going to take a look at more of its history and dive even deeper into some of the old articles, catalogs, books and even some more contemporary pieces on the bait.

The first piece of early literature I’d like to share is from a 1923 Al Foss ad. It’s hard to miss the kid holding the giant bass caught from Florida’s Kissimmee River. According to the ad, the fish weighed in at 15 1/2 pounds and was caught on an Al Foss Shimmy Wiggler tipped with a piece of Al Foss pork rind. The claim from the customer goes on to say they also had a 12 3/4-pound bass amongst others.

To the right of the text Al Foss has a display of Wigglers available at the time along with a bottle of pork rind (cost 45¢). Archaic by today’s standards in baits, the Wigglers emulate a contemporary in-line surface buzzer that would use pork as the body. I wonder how many years it’s been since a bass, any bass, has seen the likes of a bait such as these?

South Bend's 1937 catalog. Featured within its pages is an entire page dedicated to the pork rind angler.

South Bend’s 1937 catalog. Featured within its pages is an entire page dedicated to the pork rind angler.

The second piece is from a South Bend Bait Company catalog circa 1937. In this catalog, South Bend offers up a lot of options for the pork aficionado. What’s I found really interesting about this page is South Bend’s attempt at making pork substitutes for those who don’t want to deal with the real thing. Think about it, they have a rubber pork substitute AND a dried substitute. Two offerings that became available during the second coming of pork in the 80s and 90s. I hate to say it again, nothing’s new in bass fishing.

Looking at the real pork, South Bend offered five different styles/sizes from a fly rind, a couple of strips and a couple of frogs. Check out the prices at 25¢ a jar and between eight and 25 baits each. The colored Pork Frog Chunk cost a little more at 40¢ per jar and only six baits.

The synthetic imposters, on the other hand, cost a little more with the rubber rind being 30 to 35¢ per dozen while the dry rind cost 40¢ for six to a dozen strips. I guess they had to make their money somewhere.

Onto later years.

The 1950 booklet written by R. R. Mallory titled Pork Chunk Fishing had 44 pages dedicated to fishing the fleshy bait.

The 1950 booklet written by R. R. Mallory titled Pork Chunk Fishing had 44 pages dedicated to fishing the fleshy bait.

The next couple pork rind throwbacks are from the 1950s, namely from the Louis Johnson Company (they’re still making Johnson Spoons today) and a booklet called Pork Chunk Fishing written by Royce R. Mallory and published by Netcraft, which is still in business today in Toledo, OH under the name Jann’s Netcraft.

The booklet written by R. R. Mallory is a 44-page book written on the author’s exploits with the pork chunk. It’s filled with fish stories (which are pretty funny in themselves) but most importantly it goes into good detail on how to fish the pork chunk – a bait that was long forgotten before the second coming of pork. Published in 1950, Pork Chunk Fishing is a great historical look into using pork as a bait itself instead of as the pig in jig-n-pig.

The front and back cover of Louis Johnson Company's 1953 catalog/pamphlet on their Silver Minnows and pork rind baits.

The front and back cover of Louis Johnson Company’s 1953 catalog/pamphlet on their Silver Minnows and pork rind baits.

Next is the catalog published by the Louis Johnson Company. Although Pure Fishing now owns the Johnson Silver Minnow, they don’t seem to delineate it from the other Johnson company that made the Century spincast reels (which they also own). It’s sad because on their homepage they mention a little about the history of the Johnson Reel company, stating it started in 1949 but don’t make any mention that Louis Johnson Company started in 1920.

Anyway, I digress.

The inside front and back covers from the 1953 Louis Johnson catalog/pamphlet featuring the writers who helped with the catalog along with some of the pork baits they offered at the time.

The inside front and back covers from the 1953 Louis Johnson catalog/pamphlet featuring the writers who helped with the catalog along with some of the pork baits they offered at the time.

I ran into this 1953 Louis Johnson catalog a while back and was duly impressed with its content. Not only was Louis Johnson interested in showcasing their goods, they hired top-notch writers of the time to talk about how to use the baits. The list of writers included none other than Robert Page Lincoln, who we’ve written about before and a litany of other famous writer/anglers of the time.

The pamphlet featured not just their spoons but also their line of pork baits to be fished either with their spoons or alone. Robert Page Lincoln wrote two pieces for the pamphlet telling how to use the baits as did Preston Bradley.

Lincoln’s first article, Pork Rind Fishing Is America’s Favorite Way, talks about Johnson’s new storage solution and the fact it won’t rust your tackle and it came in four colors – white, green, red, and yellow. He also gives some hints on some of the lures to use it with, predominantly the Silver Minnow.

A 1980 ad for Uncle Josh pork rind, the only pork company that still exists.

A 1980 ad for Uncle Josh pork rind, the only pork company that still exists.

His second article, titled, Pork Rind Fishing For Bass And Other Gamefish Species, goes a little more in-depth on where to target bass with the rind. I find it interesting that he says to concentrate in the shallows but that’s where the bait, used as a trailer on a spoon, was intended to be fished.

Lincoln also talks about the weedless properties of the spoon and rind – not to be afraid of casting into the junk. He talks of “horsing the fish” out of the cover and skidding its head across the surface. Lincoln was one of the first writers of the day to teach would-be anglers to fish in the densest cover found on the water. He had no qualms losing a bait or two during the day if it meant he was going to get bit. Both of these articles are provided at the bottom of this article for you to read. Remember to click on the picture(s) to enlarge them to a readable size.

Strike King was the first to ad glitter to pork rind baits.

Strike King was the first to ad glitter to pork rind baits.

Next we’re going to jump forward a few decades to the 1980s and ‘90s. The beginning of the pork Genesis saw only one company manufacturing pork rind, that being Uncle Josh. But it wouldn’t take long for a couple of other companies to pop up and give a bit of competition to the incumbent. Of those companies, Strike King, Super Pork and Hog Hair Bait Company were the strongest.

Strike King, probably the best known, hit the ground hard with their formidable pro-staff, namely Denny Brauer, and put a dent in Uncle Josh’s coffers. Then there was the Hog Hair Bait Company who made pork baits with the hair still attached claiming that the hair would tangle in the teeth of a bass and make it harder for the fish to spit out. It was a great concept that caught on with a lot of anglers.

Super Pork made a name for themselves by cutting their baits to the requirements of the angler along with making their baits super soft.

Super Pork made a name for themselves by cutting their baits to the requirements of the angler along with making their baits super soft.

The third company to get on the pigskin bandwagon was Super Pork. This company didn’t just stamp out pork rind baits, they listened to the anglers and gave them what they wanted. Anglers purchasing Uncle Josh and Strike King brands found the pork to be inconsistent in cut along with softness. Super Pork not only made cuts that anglers preferred they softened the pork so it had nearly a silky feel to it.

The last article we’re going to look at comes from waning years of the pork pork empire – 1995.

The cover of the Master Tournament Angler March, 1995 issue.

The cover of the Master Tournament Angler March, 1995 issue.

I was reading in a Master Tournament Angler magazine (thanks RichZ for letting me borrow these) and found a great piece by venerable jig fisherman Denny Brauer. Titled, Selecting A Jig Trailer, Brauer talks about pork of all things.

The article, although not completely about pork, is about how to choose a trailer and why he switches from one material to another – “I just switch back and forth until I find out what the fish prefer.”

Denny Brauer's column on Selecting a Jig Trailer published in the March, 1995 issue of Master Tournament Angler.

Denny Brauer’s column on Selecting a Jig Trailer published in the March, 1995 issue of Master Tournament Angler.

One pork myth that Brauer uncovers in this piece is the fact that if you want your jig to fall slower, you don’t need pork to accomplish the task. “Altering the head of the jig and trying different jig weights are two ways you can alter the lure’s fall no matter what type of trailer you use.”

Another myth he touches on is the hot weather use plastic, cold weather use pork myth. At the beginning of the article he says, “I don’t base my selection on water temperature as much anymore, although I still lean toward using pork in cold water and plastic in real hot weather.” Personally, I always felt it was the laziness of the angler not wanting to deal with pork drying out in hot weather more than anything.

Although the article talks a lot about pork, it wouldn’t be but a couple more years and pork would become another casualty to the fishing industry. Today it’s all about umbrella rigs, hollow-body frogs, vibration jigs and swimbaits, to name a few.

Someday in the future some noteworthy angler is going to win a big event on, as Robert Page Lincoln said, the porcine attractors and we’ll all be racing to the computer to buy pork from Tackle Warehouse or Bass Pro Shops. Who knows, maybe there are some top pros that are already using it and just not talking about it. There could be more truth to that than you might think.

As stated above, see below for more old articles and ads about pork rind baits.

 

The 1952 article by Robert Page Lincoln, Pork Rind Fishing is America's Favorite Way published in the 1952 Louis Johnson Catalog. Pages 1 through 2.

The 1952 article by Robert Page Lincoln, Pork Rind Fishing is America’s Favorite Way published in the 1952 Louis Johnson Catalog. Pages 1 through 2.

 

Louis Johnson's complete list of pork rind baits for 1952.

Louis Johnson’s complete list of pork rind baits for 1952.

 

The 1952 article by Robert Page Lincoln, Pork Rind Fishing For Bass And Other Gamefish Species published in the 1952 Louis Johnson Catalog. Pages 1 through 3.

The 1952 article by Robert Page Lincoln, Pork Rind Fishing For Bass And Other Gamefish Species published in the 1952 Louis Johnson Catalog. Pages 1 through 3.

 

The 1952 article by Robert Page Lincoln, Pork Rind Fishing For Bass And Other Gamefish Species published in the 1952 Louis Johnson Catalog. Pages 4 through 6.

The 1952 article by Robert Page Lincoln, Pork Rind Fishing For Bass And Other Gamefish Species published in the 1952 Louis Johnson Catalog. Pages 4 through 6.

 

1952 article on pork rind fishing by Preseton Bradley from the 1952 Louis Johnson Catalog.

1952 article on pork rind fishing by Preseton Bradley from the 1952 Louis Johnson Catalog.

 

Pork Chunk rigs from Pork Chunk Fishing by R. R. Mallory.

Pork Chunk rigs from Pork Chunk Fishing by R. R. Mallory.

 

More Pork Chunk rigs from Pork Chunk Fishing by R. R. Mallory.

More Pork Chunk rigs from Pork Chunk Fishing by R. R. Mallory.

  • Andy Williamson

    Don’t know if compliments get old, Terry, but parts one and two comprise the best, most informative history on pork that I have ever read. I do get a chuckle looking at that 11 lb. 4 oz. “smallmouth” bass taken in Florida.

    • Terry Battisti

      Andy, it never gets old hearing compliments. We really appreciate it. I do have to thank Bill Sonnett, though, for the help on this piece. Without him, the really early part of the story wouldn’t have been as complete. And yes, that smallie “record” is pretty funny when you think about it. There are all sorts of “records” from the old days that were just like it.