How to Fish for Redfish & Spotted Seatrout with Popping Corks

spotted seatrout on popping cork

Popping corks serve several important functions for inshore fishing and can be used with artificial lures or natural bait. Learn to get the most out of these highly useful tools.

Few occurrences capture fishing fun quite like a float darting out of sight when a fish grabs a bait. The same thing is true whether you’re talking about a balsa pencil float disappearing when bluegill grabs a cricket or when a large saltwater popping cork gets yanked under by a redfish plowing a soft-plastic minnow.

In that sense, a popping cork, like a Bomber Paradise Popper X-Treme, is really just a big bobber. Used properly, though, a popping cork does far more than let you know when redfish or speckled trout takes your bait. It helps deliver offerings to the best areas, suspends them in the strike zone, calls fish from afar and urges the gamefish into feeding mode.

We’ll examine the situations that lend themselves well to using a popping cork and then dig into how and how to rig popping corks and fish them effectively.

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Secrets to Saltwater Topwater Success (Tactics, Timing & Lure Selection)

redfish caught on topwater

Want to catch more fish on topwater lures? Check out these saltwater fishing tips from a top coastal guide.

Few things in fishing create more excitement than a big saltwater predator fish coming from nowhere to devour a topwater lure. Thankfully, beyond maximizing the thrill of every strike, properly used topwater lures produce some of the best saltwater fishing action for inshore species like redfish and spotted seatrout (speckled trout).

Capt. Patric Garmeson of Ugly Fishing Charters in coastal Alabama makes regular use of saltwater topwater lures to deliver exciting fishing action for his clients. We spoke with Garmison, who guides year-round in and around Mobile Bay, about his topwater approach and about the lures he uses to call up the best surface action.

Follow these saltwater fishing tips to tap into fast and exciting fishing action in your area.

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Top to Bottom for Redfish & Trout

spotted seatrout catch

Selecting saltwater lures that allow you to effectively work the best part of the water column can help you catch more fish.

“Take it from the top.”

That phrase typically suggests going back to the beginning of a scene or song in some sort of rehearsal, but it’s also a good strategy for choosing saltwater lures for finding redfish or trout and tapping into the day’s finest action. Surface lures can be highly effective for prompting bites and serve up extra fun fishing. So, starting on top simply makes sense.

That said, some days fish will mostly near the bottom or somewhere between the top and bottom, so it’s valuable to have a “top to bottom” selection of saltwater lures and test offerings that work all parts of the water column, allowing the fish to reveal their daily preferences.

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Minnow Baits for Multi-Species Success in Coastal Waters

snook catch

Learn the secrets of a lifelong Jacksonville angler and veteran guide and how he uses minnow-imitating lures for redfish, spotted seatrout, snook, striped bass and more.

Every successful angler I have had the pleasure of fishing with seems to have a niche – something that angler is exceptionally good at doing. Some have multiple niches. From what I have witnessed, it is usually working a particular lure or style of lure in a specific manner. It’s often a relatively simple technique, once mastered, but it often involves some very fine details, and those details make the angler stand out from others. 

Much of my fishing success and success I have enjoyed guiding clients on inshore waters in Jacksonville, Florida occurs while fishing shallow-running minnow-imitating lures. Keys for me include keeping lures in the right depths, retrieving them properly and presenting them with the right tackle. 

Over the years I have found a variety of different shallow runners that get the job done for me.  Probably 60 percent of my fishing success is with shallow-water crankbaits, and I use them extensively for spotted seatrout, redfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, snook and more.

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Topwaters and Popping Corks for Outstanding Inshore Action

Super Spook and Popping Cork

Splashy surface lures and rattling corks call in fish, allowing you to cover more range. Use this lethal 1-2 punch for redfish, speckled trout and more.

“Topwater should be good here,” Chris Holleman said, as he put down the trolling motor and eased into a cut. The bottom was shallow and snaggy, with a mix of shell and downed trees, and those snags typically hold snook and redfish, Holleman has found, and the tide had good movement to put the fish in feeding mode.

My second cast with a Super Spook Boyo confirmed the suspicions of Holleman, who operates Blue Cyclone Fishing Adventures in Jacksonville.

Having redfish and speckled trout violently attack topwater lures is extraordinarily fun. Anyone who has sampled this action knows that. Topwater virtues extend past being an extra exciting way to catch fish, though. In many situations, a noise surface lure provides the finest option for working an area and prompting strikes, and at times the topwater lures produce larger fish than subsurface offerings.

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How to Use Floats & Live Bait for Spotted Sea Trout

Speckled Trout on a Float Rig

Choosing the right float and rig allows for targeted presentations that produce excellent catches of sea trout and other inshore saltwater species.

“It’s the old time way to fish for trout around here. What everyone use to do,” Chris Holleman said as we stood side by side on the back deck of his boat, watching pole floats drift slowly away from us.

“And it’s a great way to catch fish,” he added with a smile as his float shot under and he set the hook into a sea trout.

Float fishing with large slip-style floats like Thill Big Fish Sliders and Weighted Pole Floats, allows you present live bait just off the bottom, where trout like to feed, and to effectively work areas to locate schools of fish. It produces well year ‘round but is especially effective during winter, when spotted sea trout (also commonly called speckled trout) tend to congregate in deeper holes in tidal creeks, rivers and canals.

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