You want to know how to catch more red drum? In Florida and all along the Gulf Coast a shrimp or finger mullet fished a few feet under a popping cork is a killer. Shocker alert: The same technique works in the Lower Chesapeake and Tangier Sound, too. But many of us Mid-Atlantic anglers have never even been exposed to popping corks, much less seen one in use in this region. Don’t worry – armed with these three tips, you’ll be popping your way to more red drum in no time.
Get the Right Corks – You’re not likely to see popping corks in many tackle shops around here, which means ordering them off the internet. But all popping corks are not created equally. Make sure you get a cork that has a through-wire with sliding plastic beads rigged on the wire, above the cork – these absolutely do make a difference. Much like the rattles in swimming plugs, the “clack” these beads make when they slide down the wire and hit the cork definitely attracts fish. (Don't forget that reds are tuned into the acoustic scene and even make noises of their own; check out this interesting article and video about how redfish are tuned in to audio). Every time you pop the cork by yanking it on its side, those beads slide around and create those fish-attracting noises. Regular old bobber type corks can’t hold a candle to these clickers and clackers.
Always Pause and Wait Between Pops - Two or three pops in a row is okay, but don’t try to fish a popping cork like topwater – a five to 10 second pause is in order after the popping. On the other hand, most of your red drum hits will come just a second or two after making the pop, so letting it sit for more than 10 seconds is usually a waste of time. And remember: the moment the cork goes under, set the hook. It you want to catch more red drum you need to remember that they’ll often reject a bait a second or two after feeling the resistance of the cork, as they pull it underwater.
Utilize Popping Corks in Relatively Shallow Water - These rigs will usually perform best in just three to eight foot depths. This may have something to do with its noise-making, fish-attracting properties, but surely is also has a lot to do with where you’ll commonly locate the best numbers of red drum. Drop-offs and edges in the two to eight foot range are often excellent spots, and the use of a popping cork allows you to drift your offering right along those edges.