A good topwater bite can offer an entertaining display of ferocity, but at some point the fish shy away from this game. Maybe it’s the intensifying sunlight/heat, fishing pressure or a combination of such factors; but whatever the case, Capt. Ross Montet knows that the fish haven’t necessarily stopped feeding. In his view, you simply need to descend into the water column — and popping corks offer the perfect transitional tool.
Elsewhere, Venice guide Capt. David Iverson likes tempting reds with shallow running crankbaits and spoons. These are typically locator-type baits, that lead him to the clean-up potential of a popping cork.
“If I get a bite or two on a crankbait or spoon, I might go back through with a grub or a Bomber Paradise Popper Xtreme cork rig,” Iverson said. “With the Bomber Saltwater Grade Paradise Popper, I fish the 5-inch YUM Houdini Shad or the 4-inch Mud Minnow on a ¼-ounce Bomber chartreuse head and an 18-inch leader.”
On the flip side, one frustrating element of popping cork fishing is the propensity for redfish to actually attack the noisemaker. Sometimes it’s a solo assault, other times the bubbling display of a float zipping through the water behind a hooked fish is just too much to resist. The ensuing collision generally wrecks your rig and frees the hooked fish.
Having personally experienced this frustration, I can tell you it’s not cool. But redfish will be redfish and when this happens, try downsizing your cork or switching from a clacking cork rig to a standard popping cork. You might also try switching colors, or masking a vivid color with black electrical tape.
If the problem persists, consider rigging a homemade or packaged stinger hook atop the cork rig to hopefully nab any future interlopers. It can’t hurt, but Capt. Cody Obiol said the minimal payoff is not worth the time spent rigging.
If reds consistently attack your corks, take it as a sign that they’re in the mood for topside meals. Switch to topwaters, maybe a LIVETARGET MULLET, a Rapala Skitterwalk or a MirrOlure Top Dog — and just play their game.