Good Times, Good Friends, and Popping Corks

Jake Haddock
Good Times, Good Friends, and Popping Corks
Popping cork at work – make some noise!

The other day while I was fishing, I started thinking, why do we fish? What drives a person to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to have the chance to catch a fish? Is it the catch itself that drives us? Maybe just being out in the wide open, or is it just simply all about spending time with friends and family?

Yes, I like to fish. I might even say I love to fish. And I would say that I love to catch fish till my arms are so sore I can't even hold them up. Sometimes it's not all about the catch, but it does help when you catch fish. I see fishing as more of a getaway from the world, like your own little slice of Heaven. I don't know about any of y'all, but when I haven't been fishing in a few weeks, I start getting anxious. I crave the sights and sounds. When I'm on the water, the feeling of fighting fish, and the sound of a running boat engine run through my veins like a drug. So I guess you could even say I'm addicted to fishing. Some may even go as far to say they need fishing to keep their sanity.

Recently, I went on an adventure to the Galveston Bay complex to cure my cravings. I guess you could say Galveston is my home fishing grounds, since it's way closer to the house than the mid-coast and POC is. Anyway, I was taking advantage of a group of fish staging back up in some muddy back marsh due to cooling water temps, when I think I finally figured out what I like about fishing. The trip wasn't anything special, but it was just the fact that I was out on the water with good friends, the weather was tolerable, and we were catching fish. They were small fish at that, in fact most were undersize. What made the trip fun was the camaraderie. When I go fishing with people I can't joke around with, it's not fun anymore, even if we are catching big fish. However, even though it's not all about the catch in this scenario, it does help that everyone is hooked up and having a good time.

A tactic my buddies and I like to use while just going on a fun trip is the popping cork, usually with some sort of a scented soft plastic under it. The popping cork method just flat out catches fish. It won't just catch small fish, big fish, or just a certain species. You will catch trout, reds, flounder, and everything in-between, big and small. Therefore, everyone is constantly hooking up, or loosing a fish or something. This is the type of fishing that builds camaraderie.

The popping cork often gets a bum rap as a fishing tool, simply because of the cork connotation. Lots of folks relate it to live bait fishing; you know, pot licking. It's true, people do use the popping cork to pot lick with live shrimp, and if that's the way you like to fish, that's fine. I personally have nothing against live bait fishing. I just think people shouldn't jump to conclusions because the cork doesn't make it pot licking; the live bait on the hook does. So we artificial guys shouldn't be discriminated against by other hard core artificial users for throwing a soft plastic under a popping cork. (Just thought I should clarify that a little.)

In case you decide to try soft plastics under the popping cork, here a few rigging tips I have figured out. First and foremost, the cork itself: try to stay away from the braided wire and mono-rigged corks. Over time, the shaft will wear down and snap. The firm wire shafts are preferred, especially the weighted ones. As for the leader, I go with 12 lb. test Hard Mason. Don't let the size fool you; this leader material is very stout. (Also note, as far as I know the only place to find Hard Mason leader line is in the fly fishing section at Fishing Tackle Unlimited.) Then tie on about a one and a half to two foot section of leader (depending on the depth of the water). Next, tie on your preferred lead head, and finish it off with your favorite scented soft plastic. Now you're ready to catch many different species all on one rig. Pop, pop, and stop. That's all there is to the retrieve. It's a very simple rig to use, and you can have lots of fun while catching many different fish. Next time you need a getaway, you may want to hit up your local marsh with a few close friends, grab a few popping corks, and have a fun filled day on the water.