Posts Tagged With: popping cork

Putting in the Miles to Find the Fish


Photo Nov 15, 1 44 57 PM

On Saturday my little girl asked if she could stay the night at her Granny’s house, which gave me a chance to hit the water on Sunday morning.  The wind was predicted to be between 15 and 20 mph out of the east, but I decided to tough it out and see what I could find.

I launched just after first light and made my way into the marsh.  The water was high, red, and fresh, which had me a little worried about the location I had chosen.  I thought I might find a little cleaner/saltier water if I paddled deep enough into the marsh, but conditions never changed.  After paddling three miles without any signs of bait or predator, I decided to change directions and fish another spot.

Photo Nov 15, 11 57 19 AM

I paddled for several miles down narrow channels through several small lakes before the water turned it’s normal brown and I was able to taste a little salt.  At about that time I looked across the lake and saw a few birds hovering over the water.  My first cast produced a 33″ bull and my 2nd broke me off.  I have been using the same cork and leader for over a month now and I guess the leader finally wore down.  The school stayed together long enough for me to pull two more fish from it (a 18″ and 25″ red) before they broke apart for good.

Photo Nov 15, 10 52 53 AM

I spent the next 2 hours working the wind blown shoreline and caught another 15 reds. Bulls, slots, and rats were all mixed in together  having a feeding frenzy.  With the extra high tides the key was putting the cork a foot off the grassline of the windblown shoreline and giving several hard pops to get their attention.  It never took more than a few pops before it would go under and I’d have a fish on.  I even caught a small rat that took the gulp off the bow of my kayak while paddling.  The action never really died off, I just ran out of time and needed to get home.  Despite the 13.7 miles I covered in the nasty wind (Thank God for carbon fiber paddles), it was a productive day on the water.  I kept my first three reds of the day for redfish cakes. The link to the recipe is below.



For those looking for a solid popping cork that will not only last, but creates a great chug when popped, check out the Bomber Paradise Popper.  By my estimate, I’ve landed more than 50 reds on it and the wire leader is still just as straight as the day I bought it.  It runs around $7 but you can use it seems like you can use it forever.

This was a solo trip and I left my Go Pros at work so the pics aren’t that great.

Photo Nov 15, 3 34 39 PM


Wind: 15 – 20 mph from the east

Weather: Sunny skies with temps around 70 degrees

Tides: Outgoing

Bottom: Soft Mud

Depth: 2-4 feet deep in most areas

Lures: Bomber Paradise Popper with Gulp Pogy on a 1/8 oz. jighead

Rod and Reel: Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500 on a 7′ 2″ Hook Spit Zephyr Elite

Kayak: Jackson Cuda LT

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked



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If At First You Don’t Succeed…


One of the crazy things about fishing is how making a minor change on the water can have such a huge impact on the amount of fish you catch. Last month I made a rare afternoon trip to an area that I had fished once before, but had wanted to explore a little more thoroughly for some time now. I had put in some time on Google earth and found a few shallow patches of shell near the south shoreline of this small lake which made me think it had some potential. I had a decent south wind on this particular evening so I decided to seek shelter and take advantage of the protection that the south shoreline would offer.

I paddle straight into the wind to reach my destination and spent the next several hours casting around the edges of the shallow shell with a She Dog and a soft plastic, neither of which produced a single blowup or bite. I found it hard to believe that I hadn’t caught a single redfish, especially considering the areas I was fishing and the amount of casts I had made. I had an average depth that was between one and two feet deep, a soft mud bottom, small patches of shell, and plenty of bait in the water. And yet I didn’t have a single fish to show for my efforts.

I had been at it for a while now and started running a little low on daylight. I decided to head back towards the launch a little earlier than I had originally planned in order to keep from having to paddle back in the dark. The wind had finally let up a bit so I made a decision to give the wind blown shoreline a try before leaving.  I also switched over to a popping cork with gulp shrimp to see if I could create a little noise and bring the fish to me. The north side of the lake lacked structure so I had not planned on giving it a try. However, since it had been receiving a constant barrage of wind and waves, it only made since to give it a shot.


I made my first cast and hadn’t made more than a few pops of the Cork, when it suddenly disappeared. I reeled in my line to find a nice little 18-inch marsh trout. Not exactly what I was looking for but it got the skunk off my back. After tossing him back, I made a few more cast and the cork disappeared once again. This time I a nice lower slot red was on the end of my line.


For the next hour the action was nonstop.  I ended the trip with 10 reds and one trout before running out of daylight and being forced to head in. On my paddle back to the truck I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the change in location, the change in my set up, or a combination of the two that made the big difference on this trip.  I still haven’t figured that one out, but it was nice to be reminded just how much of a difference a small adjustment can make while on the water.


Wind: 15 mph from the south early on and 5 mph from the south at the end of the day

Weather: Sunny skies with temps around 80 degrees

Tides: Outgoing

Bottom: Mud with small patches of shell

Depth: 1-2 feet deep in most areas

Lures: Bomber Paradise Popper with Mantis Shrimp on a 1/16 oz. jighead

Rod and Reel: Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500 on a 7′ 2″ Hook Spit Zephyr Elite

Kayak: Jackson Cuda LT

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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Hook Spit Lone Star Kayak Series 2015 Event #4

October 2015 LSKS

For the first time since last spring, I actually considered putting on a jacket to start the morning. The temps were in the mid 60s with a cool breeze blowing through the air, which was a nice change from the heat we’ve had this summer. Johnathan Meadows and I were fishing the last event of the 2015 Lone Star Kayak Series on this morning and were patiently waiting for the clock to show 6 am so that we could begin our day.

6th Place


We were the only two people at our launch, which in my opinion is always a small advantage on tournament day. We wouldn’t have to worry about dodging other anglers that were fishing the tournament or miss out on fishing certain areas because someone else arrived first. I’ve spent 99% of my kayak trips sitting in the seat of a Jackson Cuda 14, but on this particular morning I decided to go with the Cuda LT instead. The marsh we were fishing consists of several dozen small lakes that go on for as far as the eye can see. With the Cuda LT weighing in around 20lbs. lighter and a little over a foot shorter than my Cuda 14, I decided to go with the kayak that had the ability to make sharp turns without needing a lot of space.




We pushed off into the dark at 6 am and made the short paddle to the first lake we planned to fish. Johnathan started off throwing a topwater while I went with a popping cork and gulp. The plan was to throw different set ups to see what the fish were wanting and then both go with the lure that was producing more fish. It didn’t take long before I had my first bite on the cork which turned out to be a solid 26 ½” redfish. A few minutes later I had my second bite of the day, a chunky 25” red which gave me two fish on the stringer before the sun had a chance to peak over the horizon. Anyone that has ever fished a tournament knows how good I feels to have 12+ lbs. on the stringer within the first hour. It was obvious that it was going to be a popping cork kind of day with the higher than normal tides, so Johnathan put down the topwater and grab his rod with the cork on it. Anyone that’s in the market for a good popping cork rod that won’t break the bank should check out the Hook Spit Zephyr Elite.  At 7′ 2″ you can make those long casts and pop a cork the way its meant to be popped wit the extra fast tip.  It’s a great popping cork rod priced at $159.

Another one for Clint

Another one for Clint


It didn’t take long before we figured out the pattern for the day and both had fish two fish on the stringer. With a decent NE wind blowing through the marsh, we used it to our advantage by focusing on all points and small coves on the windblown shoreline. It seemed like every point held at least one fish, along with any small cove that was located on the SE shoreline. The reds would wait on the wind protected side of the points and ambush the bait as the current forced it by or they would focus on the bait that was unwillingly being pushed up against the shoreline by the wind.

At one point we thought we had doubled up on two solid reds, but come to find out, Johnathan had a 27 ¾” red while I had a two foot alligator. It didn’t take long for the gator to realize what was going on and make a mad dash for the protection of the tall grass on the shoreline. He hit the bank and never looked back, eventually slicing through my leader and letting me keep my cork.

splash over


Shortly after the gator broke me off I was able to sightcast a 30” red by standing up in the LT and letting the wind push me towards the tailing fish. I could tell this fish would be out of the slot, but who can resist sightcasting a 30” red in a foot of water. Johnathan was able to catch an oversized red a few hours later as it and a couple of other fish were barreling down the shoreline destroying any bait in their sight.



We ended the day each catching more 6 lb. reds than we could count, our two oversized fish, and a few larger ones that stayed in the slot and made the trip to the weighin. In the end, Johnathan took home 1st place out of 96 anglers with 15.56 lbs. while I finished 6th with 13.15 lbs. Congratulations goes out to Jason Blackwell who took home Angler of the year honors once again, giving him his third AOY trophy in as many years.

1st and 6th Walking to the table

1st and 6th Walking to the table


We had a great day on the water with a couple of nice stringers to end the tournament season. We took full advantage of the benefits that comes with fishing with a friend on tournament day, which I believe helped both us catch more fish than we would have alone

I’d like to give a huge thanks to Werner Paddles, Hook Spit Performance Rods, Buggs Fishing Lures, and Jackson Kayak at this time.  These companies provide me with quality products that have helped me become a better angler over the last several years.  I am truly blessed with the opportunity to represent them and look forward to doing the same when the 2016 tournament season kicks off.



On a side note, the Lone Star Kayak Series will be back again next year, but the tournament owner and director will change. Dustin Koreba has decided to step down and hand it over to Cameron Barghi and Justin Rich. Cameron and Justin already run the Saltwater Survival Series and have been a part of the LSKS team since it began 4 years ago. We can expect a new beer sponsor and a few new lures, but overall, the things that make this tournament so special will remain the same. Now we all have to fish against Dustin instead of accepting prizes from him.


Wind: 10 mph from the NE

Weather: Sunny skies with temps between 65 and 75 degrees

Tides: Outgoing

Bottom: Mud with occasional patches of grass

Depth: 1-2 feet deep in most areas


Bomber Paradise Popper with a Gulp Pogy or Mantis Shrimp on a 1/16 oz. jighead

TTF Killer Flats Minnow on a 1/8 oz. jighead

Rod and Reel:

Popping Cork setup – Daiwa Ballistic EX 2500 on a 7′ 2″ Hook Spit Zephyr Elite

Soft Plastic setup – Shimano Citica on a 6′ 10″ Hook Spit T-N-T

Kayak: Jackson Cuda LT

Paddle: 250 cm Werner Cyrpus: Hooked

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West Houston Kayak Club-TKF Speaking

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If you live in the Houston area and would like to hear me talk about catching redfish, I’ll be speaking to the West Houston Kayak Club on February 10th. The meeting will take place at Midway BBQ in Kay, TX in the large meeting room from 6:30 to 8:00. The topic will be “Redfish Lures: When and Where to Throw Them”. I’ll be focusing on my favorite lures for redfish and explaining certain situations where I like to use each of them along with the reasons why. I have a 32 page PowerPoint presnetation full of pictures, videos, and helpful information from my experiences on the water over the years. Grab a friend, come enjoy some good BBQ, and talk fishing with me for an hour.


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Schools Before School


Yesterday was my last official day of summer break.  To say I had a great summer of fishing would be a huge understatement.  I was able to hit the water about 2 times a week for most of June, July, and August and fish with some good friends along with a few new ones.  I had a 9th place finish at the Lone Star Kayak Series on my first official day off along with a 3rd place finish last weekend.  I caught my personal best trout that was a hair less than 27″ and really refined my topwater game.  My birthday is next month and my wife and I decided we would have a small get together at the house and celebrate with a fish fry.  I haven’t kept too many fish this summer so the freezer was running a little low.  With plans to leave town for a few days next weekend and the party the week after that, I decided to hit the water with Jared yesterday to end summer with a bang and do a little “grocery shopping” for the party.

We launched shortly after 6 and started making our way into the marsh.  I had already spoke with a good friend and knew that a few schools had been roaming the area we were heading to over the past few weeks.  We entered the lake where the fish had been hanging out and split up to locate the pods.  The birds weren’t to active at this time but it wasn’t long before I spotted several schools in one corner of the lake.  Jared arrived and we immediately went work.  I started out using my spinning reel with a Chicken Boy Shrimp on a 1/4 oz jig head.  My goal was to keep my distance and pick fish off of the edge or near back of the pod in hopes that they would stay together and continue working the area.  I made a few casts around the outskirts of the pod but didn’t have any takers.  While casting at that pod I glanced to my left to see another one heading right towards my kayak.  We were eventually going to collide so let the lure fly and it landed in the middle of them.  This caused an immediate hookup and the pod exploded.  I landed a solid 27″ red and he was lit up like a pumpkin.


I strung him quickly and noticed Jared was hooked up as well.  I located the next pod and fired a cast out in front of them.  I felt the thump and set the hook but it came flying back at me and tangled around the end of my rod.  I quickly dropped it and grabbed my bait caster with a Hydra Bugg and hooked up on the first cast.  I horsed that fish to the net in under a minute and quickly put him on the stringer.  The Chicken Boy I had been throwing with the other rod was still tangled up and the lure was sitting in the water while I was stringing my second fish.  Apparently a good sized red swam by and picked it up because my rod nearly shot out of my lap before I was able to grab it.  The line was tangled around the rod tip and the fish snapped the 30 lb. braid quickly with one strong run.  I located another pod about 30 yards away and made my way towards them.  As soon as I was in casting distance I launched the Hydra Bugg out in front of them and a few twitches later I had my 3rd fish on the line.  I landed that fish, strung it, and saw that Jared was hooked up as well and had been for a while.  I thought he had a good over slot red, but it turns out he had somehow hooked a 20″ black drum in the tail and it was putting up quiet a fight.  It took roughly ten minutes to string my limit which was the fastest I had ever done that.

photo 11

The half a dozen pods we were on dispersed so we worked the area with she dogs for a while but didn’t have any luck.  We decided to leave that lake and fish another that was nearby with lots of mud and shell around a foot and a half deep.  I continued throwing my she dog while Jared worked a popping cork with gulp.  Jared hooked up with a sold 24″ red within the first 10 minutes so I switched over to a popping cork while we slowly crab walked towards the launch.  We picked up a few more reds on the popping corks on our drift and I sight casted a 18″ red with a Hot Pink Hydra Bugg right before we reached the truck.  I was able to take home 6 reds and a black drum which put a major dent in the amount of fish we will need in a few weeks.  I’m hoping that one more trip like that during this upcoming long holiday weekend will be enough to feed everyone that is able to make the party.  It was a nice ending to a great summer.

photo 2


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Five Must Have Lures For Spring Time Redfish


With the first day of spring approaching quickly, I’ve already started making preparations for redfish to return to the shallow marshy waters here along the Texas coast. I’ve enjoyed winter trout fishing as much as the next guy, but for me nothing beats stalking reds through a foot of muddy water on a bright sunny day. It’s a style of fishing that requires great patience and the ability to make accurate casts that I have come to enjoy more than any other. While spring tends to bring unfavorable winds that can be torture to the weekend kayaker, it also brings warmer weather and an abundance of bait. It’s a time of the year that many anglers welcome with open arms.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been going through my gear to see what tackle needs to be transferred from storage to the kayak. With so many choices between soft plastics, twitch baits, topwaters, spoons, crankbaits, and numerous other lures, deciding what to bring is always a tough choice. Like most people, I have a few favorites that I never leave home without during the warmer months. Each one serves a specific purpose depending on the area or type of structure I’m fishing along with what the fish seem to want on that particular day. They are lures I have used in the past with great success and as a result I have developed great confidence in each of them. That confidence is the main reason they work so well for me. When I tie one on, I know that it’s capable of producing and expect it to catch fish. Listed below are those five lures and the reasons why I never fish the marsh without them.

1. Gulp and a Popping Cork

A tried and true method that has been proven to catch redfish, Gulp under a popping cork is a great way to bring the fish to you. The chugging noise created by the cork after a solid pull on your rod produces the same sound and splash a redfish makes while feeding. Midcoast Popping CorkWhen nearby fish hear this, they head towards the cork and the scent from the Gulp takes care of the rest. It is a very versatile bait that casts well in the wind and allows you to fish different depths of the water depending on the length you make your leader. It works well when fished along grassy shorelines and marsh drains, but really excels when used over or around shallow clumps of oyster.

Midcoast Products makes a great popping cork called the Evolution that I like to use. It’s a very durable cork made with a stainless steel wire that can withstand the abuse from several dozen redfish before needing to be replaced. I like to use a 1/16th ounce jighead so that after each pull on the rod, the gulp falls at a nice slow pace similar to injured or dying bait. I won my first redfish tournament using the Evolution paired with a Gulp pogy to catch both of my fish. The versatility and effectiveness of this combo makes it a must have in your tackle box.

2. MirrOLure She Dog

When it comes to fishing, everyone loves a good topwater bite. What makes it even more exciting is the ability to see that big wake appear behind your lure before the fish explodes on to your bait. shedogWhile the hookup ratio may not always be great, the thrill of multiple attacks in a single cast is enough to keep most of us from switching lures. While it’s a fun bait to throw, it is also a great lure when fishing near oyster and grass that lies just below the surface. Its ability to stay on top of the water allows you to fish it in areas where underwater grass and shell tend to be a problem for other lures. The walk the dog movement can be retrieved at different speeds and does a great job of imitating an injured baitfish. The noise from the rattles and small splashes made are great ways to help fish locate your bait. I like to keep a topwater tied to one of my rods on most trips. I may not use it every time out, but like to have one available if the opportunity presents itself.

I’ve experimented with a dozen brands of topwaters and the one that I’ve had the most success with is the MirrOLure She Dog. It’s conveniently priced and comes in two additional sizes. I normally use the She Dog (4 inches) but will switch to a She Pup (3.5 inches) if I’m getting lots of short strikes. There is also a He Dog (4.75 inches) that works well on windy days when the water gets choppy. The high frequency rattles do a great job of enticing fish to eat on really slow days.

3. Buggs Lures

One of my favorite things about kayak fishing is the ability to go where most others can’t. Paddling through water that’s less than a foot deep in search of skinny water reds has become my favorite way of fishing. While finding tailing or backing reds in the spring is exciting, it can also be down right frustrating at times. Most of these fish have spent the last few months in slightly deeper areas so it takes them a month or two before they become more comfortable with the shallow water lifestyle again. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASplashes from larger baits can easily spook fish making it difficult to convince one to eat of many days. I used soft plastics for a while before discovering Buggs Lures. These lightweight lures are made locally in the Houston area and tied like flies using a special jighead that always lands with the hook facing up. They are one of the softest landing baits I have found making them perfect for shallow water reds. The bunny fur used on these lures undulates with the movement of the water while waiting to be found giving it life like qualities. It usually requires just a few small twitches or a slow drag across a muddy bottom and redfish are all over it.

My favorite Bugg is a Beastie Bugg in the 1/4-ounce size. The 1/8-ounce size is great on days with little or no wind while the 3/8-ounce is good for windy days or while fishing deeper areas. As far as sight casting baits go, it is always my first choice.

4. Chicken Boy Shrimp

Soft plastics are baits that I carry with me year round. The brand, size, and style may change from season to season, Chicken Boy 4" Shrimpbut some form of soft plastic is always available on my kayak. While I don’t use them much in the winter, Chicken Boy Shrimp have become my favorite soft plastic to use during the spring, summer, and fall. Another locally produced bait from the Houston area, this bait works well when redfish are keyed in on shrimp. It is a very durable soft plastics capable of withstanding multiple fish before needing to be switched out. They work well when bounced along the bottom or reeled in at a steady pace. On a windy day when I’m having trouble accurately casting a Bugg, this becomes my sight-casting lure paired with a 1/6th ounce jighead. If I were only allowed one soft plastic to use year round, this would be my top choice.

5. Manns 1-Minus Crankbait

The Manns 1-Minus is the best subsurface search bait I have found for fishing shallow water. At top speed this bait will dive to a maximum depth of 1 foot and if reeled at a slower pace will only dive an inch or two deep.Manns Baby 1-Minus Crankbait The advantage here is that you can still fish below the surface but do not have to worry about hanging up on grass or shell bottoms. It puts off great vibrations and allows me to quickly cover a small marsh lake or cove thoroughly in a matter of minutes. It’s also a great bait for beginners or children because all it requires is a steady retrieve at the speed of your choice. I have purchased several of these crankbaits in the past and all have come with freshwater hooks that will require changing. Once the hooks have been exchanged, these little guys are ready to go and redfish will crush them.

These five lures are proven winners in my book. With them, I feel like I’m prepared for any situation that could possibly arise while chasing reds during the spring season. I’m always open to trying new lures, but will carry these five with me at all times over the next several months.

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LSKS Prefish (5-30-13)

Sonny 27 plus red

Ricky and I took the day off of work to prefish for the LSKS this weekend. The wind has been blowing 20+ mph all week and it looks like we will get the same treatment on Saturday. Tides are really high right now because of the wind pushing all the water from gulf into the bays so it should be interesting to see what happens on Saturday.

We spent an hour at our first spot and didn’t really have a good feeling about it so we threw the kayaks in the truck and headed a few miles down the road. We decided to split up so that we could cover more ground and would meet up later to discuss what we had found. Ricky decided to go as far back as he could to see if they had pushed deep into the marsh while I stayed near the various drains around the different entrances. I decided to park on one of the islands that was under water because of the high tides and throw the popping cork with a Gulp pogy for a while. After about 15 minutes I had hooked up with my first fish and it was the perfect tournament fish. She was 27 15/16 inches long and weighed 8 pounds and 13 ounces on the digital scale. It’s too bad this fish came 2 days early.

27 plus tail

On the very next cast I hooked into a second fish after one chug of the cork. She peeled off about 15-20 yards of drag before I felt a small pop and my line went limp. I reeled my cork in and saw that my fluorocarbon had snapped. I suspect the previous fish must have banged it up a bit on the shell because I didn’t have the drag set very tight at all. We spent the next few hours exploring other areas with not much luck. We decided to call it a day around noon and headed back to the truck.  The majority of the fish were over a shell and mud mix in about 2 feet of water near drains and deeper channels.

We didn’t have much of a bite but the two that I hooked were good ones. If the right two bites come on Saturday then it could be an exciting day. Good luck to everyone in the tourney and see you at the weighin.

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