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 The Popping Cork
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Posted - 04/26/2017 :  09:35:48 AM  Show Profile  Visit Admin's Homepage Send Admin a Private Message
I had the opportunity to fish last week after work and was able to get on some Reds under an old dock. Tide was high so I had a short distance between the top of the dock and the water surface to cast. Threading the needle between the water surface and dock was easy with a scented jerk bait. As the bite slowed I knew I had to switch techniques. The fish were hitting the second the bait hit the water so I knew they were close to the surface and most likely reacting in part to the sound as the late afternoon sunlight began to fade. A cork rig would be ideal but most would be hard to accurately cast in the tight area. I reached in the tackle box and grabbed a small weighted popping cork, set it up with a short 12-inch leader and a dead shrimp and the bite was back on again. It was then I remembered just how versatile these little corks can be.
My first introduction to the popping cork was at least 25 years ago when some friends of mine were using them to catch trout in the surf off of Edisto Beach. These guys would cast them into the surf with a live shrimp on, pop the cork several times under a slow retrieve, and the large sea trout would be all over it. At the time popping corks were constructed of balsa wood, only came in a couple of different sizes and were not available in a weighted version.

Popping corks have done quite well in the tackle evolution, for instance now they are made of Styrofoam, painted with high visibility paint, are available in both a weighted and non-weighted version, and come in at least a 1/2 dozen different sizes. I have selected the small (3-inch) weighted popping cork as my primary live bait float. The reason for this selection is as follows, it takes up less room in the box, is easy to cast, and it eliminates the need for cork weights thus creating even more space. Besides, one thing that has not changed in the evolution of the popping cork and this is its’ ability to catch fish.

When rigging the popping cork I pass my main line through the cork and attach a small barrel swivel. I then attach a 20-pound mono or flouro leader that is approximately 18-inches long. This leader material will protect you from chaffing either in the mouth or on the body of most inshore species as well as over light snags such as rocks or shells. At the base of the leader I attach either a 1/0 Gamakatsu live bait hook or a 3/0 Eagle Claw Kahle hook. Finally a rubber band or float stop is used on the main line for quick and easy control of the bait depth.

The popping cork set up equipped with the live bait hook is a perfect match for fishing fiddlers or muscles over the rocks or around structure for Sheepshead, while the same setup using the Kahle hook is ideal for Bass and Trout over the oyster rakes, on the flats, in the grass, or in the surf. Of course these same setups can be used for a variety of other species including Stripped Bass, Flounder, Blue Fish, and Spanish Mackerel. Regardless of the target species a slow retrieve with a few pops of the cork will give your bait a whole new appeal, and is sure to stir the curiosity of any fish in the area!

Tight lines…
Captain Tim Pickett
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