The birth of Versamaxx

The Versamaxx Coastal Popping Cork System is the brainchild of Steve Kissee, aided and abetted by fishing buddy Brian Guidry.

After graduating from fishing on the bottom for croakers as a kid, Kissee said his fishing came to be all about fishing under a cork in Delacroix.

“Same with me,” added Guidry. “I started with those egg-shaped, brown natural corks — natural cork, not foam.

Kissee went on. “I started with scoop-faced Styrofoam corks with slits on their sides and a stick in the middle. Later, I shifted to Alameda hollow plastic corks. Some had rattle beads in them.

Guidry nodded, “the problem with them was that they would break. A redfish would slam one into the side of the boat and crack it.

“It was a good design, but had flaws. The line attachment would break off and there was no way to attach the line to the cork after that.

“Nothing was versatile enough for me,” Kissee came back. “Sometimes I want different weights; sometimes I want different amounts of noise; I always want the ability to change depth easily.”

“Another thing,” said Guidry, “is that the diameter of modern braided line is so much smaller than other lines that a cork won’t stay set in place on corks with sticks or clips.

“We would be out there fishing, and Steve would get POed and say, ‘I’m gonna invent a cork!

“I’d just say ‘yeah, yeah,’ and keep fishing. Then one day he called and said ‘come here.’ He had made his prototype.”

“They were crude at first,” grimaced Kissee. “Just carved balsa wood and later, Styrofoam. I drilled a cylindrical hole in the center of the cork and put a medicine bottle with beads in the hole.

“Balsa was fragile; Styrofoam muted the sound. So I sent a plan to a company with a 3-D printer who could make it from plastic. Then in 2012 I founded 20/20 Fishon as a home for Versamaxx corks.” A variety of choices are now available.

The Original Versamaxx Popping cork has a square top for maximum popping sound. It sells in a two-pack which contains a large and small cap to create different sized corks. It comes in 4 colors: yellow, orange, green, and pink.

Versamaxx Ovals are made for fishermen who prefer oval corks. They also are sold in two-packs and are the same size. Colors available are yellow and orange.

A third product is the Versamaxx Hybrid, which is essentially the large cap of the Popping cork paired with the base of the Oval cork. These come two to a pack, same size, in either yellow or orange.

The last cork is the Versamaxx Coastal. It is essentially the top of the Oval paired with the bottom of the Popping. They come two to a pack, same size, and are available in only one color scheme, yellow top and red bottom.

Each pack of corks comes with three kinds of rattle beads: plastic, glass, and steel, as well as two weights. If no sound is desired, but more weight needed for casting into the wind, water can be added to the corks instead of beads.

The combinations are endless!

As if to add more options from Kissee’s fertile mind, in 2017, 20/20 Fishon is introducing a wired popping cork to their line-up called the Versamaxx. This one will have quick and easy depth adjustments, eliminating the need to cut lines and retie them to make depth changes while fishing. They will be sold one to a pack in either yellow or orange.

About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.