Not my Popping Cork
My son Jacob and I were fishing East Bay trying to figure out the patterns of the redfish, as the water temperatures were slowly dropping. We immediately headed to some spots that were successful last fall, winter and early spring. We have a tournament the weekend of Dec. 9, and wanted to make sure we weigh in.
The first drop off we went to is where a grass bed in about 2 feet of water drops off to a 4-foot sand bottom. Jake threw a Matrix Shad Blazing Hornet rigged weedless and I tried a white Zman minnowZ. We threw into the grass and slowly worked across the drop-off. As we drifted the drop off, Jake noticed a roughly 30-pound black drum; we spooked it.
We worked around the drop-off and Jake hooked up with an 18-inch trout. After the trout, the bait and bite tapered off. We went ahead and moved to another spot.
We arrived on a mud flat that was bowl-shaped, 6 inches to 2 feet on the sides and dropped off to 3.5 feet in the middle. We were seeing small trout and some lower slot reds. We tried to practice sight-casting since the water was so clear and we aren’t very good at it; we are better at fan-casting and throwing at V’s in the water. I saw a little red and cast at 45 degrees ahead of him. I worked that Zman slow into its line of sight. It slowly headed for the bait, got about 4 inches from it and took off, like the bait scared it.
We worked around the flat catching some 10- to 12-inch trout and chose to move again, this time to a long flat that has always held reds. It was a broken bottom on a flat that extends about 75 yards from shore. We started to drift and looked and see an over slot red, cast, worked the bait, and he took off. We drifted about another 15 yards, saw another red, and the same thing happened.
I decided at this point to change to a Gulp! New Penny Shrimp on a red 1/8th-ounce jig head. Rarely have I found that a red will resist a shrimp, especially when it is easy.
We continued to drift and see more reds. We cast at them, brought the bait into their line of vision, and they spooked. Either they weren’t feeding or we weren’t throwing the right bait. Jake started fan casting the Matrix Shad and hooked up in about 6 inches of water. He landed a beautiful 24-inch, 4.5-pound red.
We continued to drift the flat and I saw a popping cork. I pointed it out to Jake and he said, “What if there is a big red on it?” I was thinking it would be a catfish or stingray, certainly we wouldn’t have wandered up on a big red attached to a cork. As we continued to get close to it, it started moving and went under. As it was moving away, I noticed the tail had a blue edge and a black spot. I told Jake what it was, and he said he’ll put his rod up and grab it.
As he was stowing the rod, I cast my shimp at a 45 in front of the cork, let the red swim the cork into my line, and I reeled and snatched and hooked the cork. My drag started screaming and Jake and I were both standing there in shock not believing what was happening. I finally wore the red down and we landed it. It had swallowed the bait that was at the end of the popping cork, so I cut the line out as far down as I could, measured, weighed, made sure he was okay, and released. The red measured at 27.75 inches and weighed in at exactly 7.5 pounds.
It was by far the most interesting trip we have had this year, and for me that was a first: snagging a cork and reeling in a red.
From this last trip, I have determined the reds are still on the flats over a grassy broken bottom with sand holes. They are holding by the sand holes in 6 inches to 2 feet of water and are being skittish about eating. Jacob was outfishing me for reds 5-1 with the Matrix Shad Blazing Hornet, which can be found at Howell Tackle.
The trout are holding the 2 feet to 4 feet depth and are very aggressive. The big trout are busting small schools of bait on top, so try a Spook Jr., Matrix Mullet, or Skitter Walk.