Uncle Josh saltwater pork baits: Top striper angler puts pork on the seafood menu

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
by Mike Pehanich

Check the leader boards in striped bass tournaments in the Northeast, and you are likely to see “John Frione” listed high in the standings.

A striped bass specialist, who also counts coup on fluke, blackfish and bluefish throughout the season, Frione has recorded three stripers over 50 pounds and two more at 49 along with his winning tournament performances.

In the spring, he does much of his fishing in the eastern portion of Long Island Sound.

“Six Mile Reel has an eastern and western end,” he explains. “The east is very deep – 40 to 105 feet – and that’s where I often use pork baits on bucktail jigs. At this time of year, fluke also start coming in, and while we are bass fishing, we get fluke to hit, too.”

Big stripers love big mouthfuls. That’s why Frione’s “big fish” arsenal includes a heavy supply of Uncle Josh pork baits as trailers for his bucktail jigs and parachute rigs, which are his primary tools for stripers. You’ll find a wide selection of the Uncle Josh Big Boy #57-S Fork Tail Sea Strips and  #70 Striper Sea Strips along with the Big Boy #220-S and the new MEAT Fluke Belly.

“The Big Boy Sea Rind really does the trick,” says Frione of the 10-inch by two-inch saltwater pork rind trailer series from Uncle Josh. “When that bait passes a fish, he just has to whack at it!”

He carries a broad selection of all his baits to meet different conditions and the sometimes finicky tastes of his target species, but he has at least one definite preference. “For some reason, that red and white really works well,” he says.

He positions the bait with the white portion toward the hook of what is usually a 1- to 1-1/4 ounce bucktail jig.

“Often I slice the tail to three or four inches up the bait to give it more up and down swimming action,” he explains. “That gives it even more attraction.”

For trolling, he adds some of the same pork baits to a parachute rig, also known as an “umbrella rig” (or Alabama rig to freshwater bass anglers).

Trolling the multi-bait parachute rig has become very popular on Long Island Sound. Anglers troll with 200 to 300 feet of line and a “school” of pork trailers

“That parachute rig is where I really like to use the Big Boy, the 220!” he says, noting his preference for the red and white as well as yellow colors. “It is a killer on that rig, an absolute killer! You can run that parachute all day, but without pork rind, you won’t get hit.”

Blackfish, too!

Blackfish have become another of Frione’s favorite targets.

“Ten years ago in the fall, we were using the Big Boy 220 pork rind on bucktail jigs in rocky areas and near breakwaters and started taking blackfish on little 1- and 1-1/4-ounce jigs,” he says. “That’s now a favorite way of fishing blackfish for a lot of anglers.”

Frione has also added the Uncle Josh MEAT Belly Strip to his offerings. It is one of the skinless, all-fat pork bait offerings from the MEAT line of products, packaged in resealable plastic bags.

“I like the white with chartreuse a lot,” he says. “I might only use a little piece of it ifs I am targeting blackfish or fluke – and it is really great for fluke. For stripers, I use it all and split the tail for more action.”