The following is a special guest blog post from Bill Crumrine. Many thanks to Bill for his efforts and history lesson.
It’s one of my favorite lures (PICO Perch) to use when I’m fishing. It’s one of the best lures (PICO Pop) I’ve ever used for topwater bassin’. The original swimming bait. For more fishing fun. They work because they catch fish. A Fish Catching Legend since 1933. You’re just not fishing (especially bass fishing) without a PICO Lure tied on, to your rod & reel outfit. So, it goes, with all the compliments that fishermen have paid or advertising slogans PICO Fishing Lures has used throughout the company’s 85 years of business.
PICO is one of the oldest lure manufacturers not just in Texas, but also in the nation. The year was 1933 and the Great Depression had a stranglehold on the United States. Corpus Christi resident, Fred Nichols, carved a cedar wood lure resembling the salt-water piggy perch. It proved successful when used for speckled trout and other salt-water game fish. Nichols carved a few more lures for family and friends to use. Soon word spread and people started inquiring about the lure. With encouragement from family and friends, Nichols soon found himself in the fishing lure business. Times were still tough in the mid-30s, but people eked out a fishing trip every once in a while.
Because of its proximity to the Corpus Christi area and being one of his favorite fishing haunts, Nichols named the company after Padre Island, but shortened it to PICO (Padre Island Company.) A catchy, easy to remember little name.
The story goes that while the lure started out as a salt-water artificial bait, someone either went to Medina Lake or a stock tank and not having anything but a PICO Perch, cast it in the water. Much to the fisherman’s delight, he caught one hefty stringer of black bass. Before anyone knew it, the lure became as much as a fresh-water lure as a salt-water one. Nichols did a little re-designing of the original lure making it resemble either a salt-water piggy perch or the freshwater sunfish (bluegill, green ear or pumpkin seed.)
PICO Fishing Lures has seen many transitions and owners over its 85-year history. In 1962, Ed Henckel bought and moved the company to San Antonio. He expanded the company by producing and marketing a wide variety of lure types. Pico moved more and more into fresh-water fishing, but never abandoned the salt-water market.
Deteriorating eyesight forced Henckel to sell the company. In 1986, Bob Miller became the owner. Miller took the company in a somewhat different direction, eventually dropping the spinnerbait and soft plastic lines that had pushed PICO Lures to a forefront throughout the 1960s and 70s. Many changes were occurring in 1980, as many of the Mom & Pop shops were fazing out with the onslaught of the big sporting retailers and mail order conglomerates. With the advent of all the computer technology almost for 40-years now this has only accelerated the demise of the Mom n’ Pop tackle stores, though this angler surely misses the one-on-one owner /customer relationship.
Miller decided in 1993, to move the company to Kerrville and concentrate on the traditional PICO Perch and Pop lures, with the twist of offering a new concept of producing “logo” lures bearing academic, commercial, and non-profit logos on the previously mention lures. This concept was especially popular on the topwater PICO Pop lure. The name of the firm became PICO Outdoor Company diversifying into apparel and gifts such as vintage tin signs promotions. PICO Lures also became a fly fishing specialty shop offering guided trips on the streams and rivers within the Texas Hill Country or individual canoe and kayak rentals. Miller also went on to promoting a fly fishing show in May once a year.
In 2003, Miller sold out to his other investors, the primary one being Kim Howard, M.D. in Longview, Texas. Dr. Howard’s practice required his full attention, and while the company did not cease operations, manufacturing ceased, until Steve Frick purchased the company in 2012, taking all operations to Lago Vista, Texas, located between Austin and Marble Falls. Frick was sole proprietor of PICO Lures conducting operations from his home where a large warehouse style building was on the property. Having toured the new site and writing a Texas Outback Magazine article titled “Welcome Back, PICO,” an off-shoot of the Emmy award winning 1970s television series, “Welcome Back, Kotter” the company continued to manufacture both the regular and logo PICO Perches and Pops.
As time passed, other issues arose so Steve Frick contacted me, inquiring if I could help him find a buyer, which I was glad to help in search. Try as I did, I exhausted my short list of possible buyers, though Steve and I kept in contact. It was in March 2017, when Steve contact-ed me via e-mail informing me that he had found someone, Mitch Glenn, former general sales manager for Arkie jigs and spinnerbaits, to buy the company. Mitch Glenn lives in Garfield, Arkansas, so he took the (life-long/long-time) Texas company to his home town and state. In mid-2017, Mitch sent out his new web-site with new a hardbait, the PICO INT-Med, with an elongated/rounded clear lip.
Find our current selection of Vintage PICO lures here.