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How to Get the Most from Popping Corks

by Capt. Ryan Rock    No Fish, No Pay!   

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Popping corks are my go-to method of catching trout and redfish year-round. Although seemingly simple, a popping cork is a VERY versatile tool. There are several ways to rig one of them... and even more ways to work- it so that you catch more trout and redfish. How I rig them is very much dependent upon different situations and conditions. The main elements at play - those that can make the difference between a "good" fishing day and a "Great One" are: some common mistakes, your retrieval speed, leader depth, casting distance/cast efficiency, and getting their attention.

I see the same mistakes with popping corks all the time. The first mistake is leaving slack in the line. Slacked line is the undisputed #1 reason my clients miss opportunities at catching fish. When you have slack in your line multiple problems arise. You will miss your hook set 95% of the time because you aren't actually moving the hook, you can't pop your cork to get the attention of the fish, and when using a spinning reel, you will get wind knots in your line. The next mistake is not popping your cork loud enough. This is usually because of slacked line or using anything other than your wrist to pop the cork. Often times people will pull their cork more than pop it. When you think of the rod as a whip and use your wrist to deliver a quick, short, loud pop - that's the way you do it! Another common mistake is leaving dead shrimp on the hook. Redfish will often take a dead shrimp but trout will often times not even look at a nearly dead shrimp. Before each cast put your shrimp in the water and look to see that it is upright and is kicking its legs.

 


Leader depth will obviously depend on the depth the target species is at. During cold, winter days (when fish are in deeper water), it is very important to put on a leader that is long enough to get your shrimp or lure near the bottom. During the winter when fish go to deeper water, they are lethargic and will not actively seek out food because they are cold blooded. However, they find it hard to resist a shrimp slowly floating by in front of their face (key words being "in front of their face"). So take a look at that depth sounder (if you have one) and make your leader about a foot or two shallower than that depth of the water you're fishing. Also, be sure to put a split-shot or two on the leader to keep that shrimp in the strike zone. When lots of scared bait activity is found on the surface of the water it is obvious that the fish are actively feeding so a shorter (easier to cast) leader will suffice.

Other days however, when the water is clear and/or green, I may pop the cork about every five seconds and sometimes I'll do a constant light pop - as if I'm working a jig. I know that sounds a little vague but the only way for you to benefit from this tip is by trial and error...plus remembering that just because you caught fish in the past working the cork one way does not mean it works best every day. Try different speeds and see what

Most days I throw my popping cork out as far as I can. After the cork lands I'll give between 4-6 loud hard pops. This does two things: it gets my cork away from the spot it initially landed- in (possibly spooking the fish), and it also "rings a loud dinner bell" to get the attention of my prey. Here's where things get changed up based pm the water clarity and visual feeding activity. On those days when fish really need that "easy meal opportunity", I'll do 2-3 pops, reel up my slack, and give a good 10-15 "Mississippi" before repeating the action.

Watch Capt. Ryan Rock's YouTube Video: Using Popping Corks
Other days however, when the water is clear and/or green, I may pop the cork about every five seconds and sometimes I'll do a constant light pop - as if I'm working a jig. I know that sounds a little vague but the only way for you to benefit from this tip is by trial and error...plus remembering that just because you caught fish in the past working the cork one way does not mean it works best every day. Try different speeds and see what works best TODAY.

Last but certainly not least is casting efficiently. Unless I'm fishing some kind of VISIBLE structure (like a drop off or pot hole), I will cast as far as I can. Something my father has told me since I was a little kid is"He who casts the furthest, catches the most and biggest fish!" He learned from a fishing guide a long time ago and now I find myself telling my clients that same thing on nearly every trip. It's best to use both hands when casting and let the wind be your friend to help get that cork way out there. Not all corks cast equally good either;' one of my favorites is the Mid-Coast Products Nexus 5 most of the time because it casts really far, lasts a long time, and makes a really good loud popping sound. When fishing visible structures cast past the structure a short ways and pop your cork until its right on or in the structure. If I don't get a fish right at that structure I reel in and cast to the next available structure. This makes for good time management allowing you make more casts in more productive spots resulting in more fish throughout the day.  In closing, and I can't stress this enough, a popping cork is absolutely no different from every other lure in the fact that there is no single, right way to employ it and it is certainly not just a method for beginners. Where a popping cork truly excels is its versatility. It can be fished fairly deep, shallow, fast, slow, live bait, lures, on rocks and other structure. A popping cork will catch trout and reds just about any day of the week which is more than what I can say for any one, single lure in my tackle box. Learn to get the most out of your popping cork and I promise you will never want to be on the water without it.

"I will go above and beyond to ensure you are happy with your bay fishing charter experience. I put my heart and soul into every trip because I love what I do".  Families with Children.... Always Welcome!

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Stay safe and tight lines,

Captain Ryan Rock   Corpus Christi Inshore Fishing Charters

 

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