The title of this piece may give you the idea we’re going P3TA on you – absolutely not. But if you’re old enough to remember the pork rind revival of 1980, this won’t just make sense, you probably have a couple of these little gems behind the workbench in your garage.
Around the time when the ‘70s turned into the ‘80s a renaissance of sorts took place in the Arkansas/Missouri area. Bassmaster Staff Writer Dave Precht wrote about the resurgence in the January 1980 issue of Bassmaster Magazine (see Jig & Pork Frog Revival, pgs 78-84) citing that Uncle Josh, the only commercial-scale manufacturer of pork rind at the time, couldn’t keep up with the demand that only four states – Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma – were requiring.
The resurgence of pork used as a jig trailer to mimic a crawdad brought about a number of changes in the industry. No longer was Uncle Josh’s best seller the #11 Pork Frog in the green frog pattern – a pattern that made up 90% of Uncle Josh’s sales prior to the revolution. Uncle Josh was now coming out with new colors, such as black and brown, along with developing different sizes of the fake pork amphibian. Anglers far and wide were buying record amounts of pig and winning events from the local Wednesday nighter to major tour events.
The problem with pork, and probably the reason for its first decline, was the simple fact that it needs to stay wet in order to be fishable. That’s easy when you’re actually fishing it. It becomes a major pain, though, when you need to pick up a different rod for a while or need to make a move down the lake in the middle of the summer. Pork has a tendency to dry out and become stiff, it also shrinks. At this point, you needed a knife to cut off the old piece in order to change it out for a new one.
And herein lies the next invention – the Save-A-Pig. ANCO Creations, out of Kansas City, MO, developed the foam cover that the angler could wet, place on the rod with the jig inside, and keep the pork moist. Within a year every angler had half a dozen of these accoutrements in their boat and on their rods, saving their pork from an early demise along with keeping crankbaits from tangling other sticks on the deck.
I bought a few of the pig savers when they first came out but found them to be a pain to use. Not only that, invariably I’d forget to close them tightly, which led to them flying off the rod on any jaunt to a new location. Instead, I dealt with the situation by placing the bait in the water when not being used and I’d put the bait in a small Tupperware container when en route to another spot. Maybe not the best solution but it worked for me.
What really confuses me about pork, though, is it’s been nearly extinct for the past 10 years or more. What was the wonder lure from the 80s through the early 90s has been relegated – again – to the inactive list. With so many low maintenance plastic trailers on the market today, no one seems willing to give the hog a chance. That’s crazy when you think of the attributes pork offers the angler when it comes to trailer options. For example, pork has a considerably different density than plastics. It also is a real material and cured in brine solution. So many anglers back in the day swore that finicky fish would hold on to the pork longer than a jig tipped with plastic.
You also see the current flat-line of pork in tackle stores nationwide. It used to be that any shop worth dropping a dime in would have cases of the bait for sale. Now you’re lucky to find a case – total.
It’s the same old story we’ve told time and time again. It’s the ebb and flow of the fishing industry and the tackle that’s hot. Pork, for the second time, is like a virus lying dormant awaiting the right conditions to rear its ugly face. I’m not saying when it’ll come back en vogue but I guarantee you, at some point it will and ANCO Creations and Uncle Josh will thank you – again.