Winds, at times exceeding gale force velocities, shut down fishing on Tuesday. Once the wind settles, we likely will be dealing with extraordinary low tide levels until a wind shift to the south or east takes place.

Frank Ritche sent a note asking a question that often comes from readers. Ritche said he knows popping corks are one of the most popular and productive ways of fishing for trout and reds; however, he has used them many times and has only caught a hard head and gafftop. “Can you give some tips on how to use them?” he asked.

Ritche’s experience with popping corks is not uncommon, especially among newcomers to using the technique.

First, many anglers associate them with bobbers used in freshwater fishing where the main purpose is to let you know when a fish is nibbling on the bait. Popping corks, used properly, are considered a technique for attracting fish.

The popping sound that comes from a quick jerk of the cork resembles a trout popping the surface in pursuit of a baitfish or shrimp. The key to success with a popping cork is to imitate the sound of a fish popping the surface.

Besides the sound, popping corks keep a live shrimp or finfish suspended in the water and when the sound attracts a fish to the spot, bait is present.

The sizes of the corks are a factor. The large corks work best in deeper waters and in choppy conditions. Smaller corks are preferred in shallower waters where the sound does not need to be as loud.

The length of the leader is important. A longer leader is needed in deeper waters, while a shorter one is preferred when working the birds in the bay or drifting feeding slicks.

I have used leader lengths from 12 inches (when working the birds or fishing shallow grassy areas) to 5 feet (once when fishing the Bolivar Gas Wells when “Kraut Grass” was thick near the bottom). Normally, a length of 18 to 24 inches is the most common used around the Galveston Bay Complex.

For newcomers, I recommend the commercial popping corks rigged and ready for use. A monofilament leader is my preference over coated wire. Once the beginner starts, it is not long before they begin making their own rigs with all sorts of variations.

Hooks are also important. Use as small a hook as possible to allow the bait to move freely. Sizes 6 and 8 treble hooks are very popular.

Reel Report

Capt. Joe Kent is a columnist for The Daily News. To get your catch in the Reel Report, call 409-683-5273 or email

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