Popping for Winyah Bay reds

Catching a bull redfish like this on a popping cork takes fishing to another level. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Bull redfish are concentrated at the Georgetown jetties

The bull redfish that have spent the summer inshore around Georgetown, SC are stacked up at the Georgetown jetties, preparing to migrate offshore. And while many anglers catch them with cut bait on the bottom, Capt. Rod “Ponytail” Thomas of Capt. Ponytail Guide Service loves catching these monsters using a popping cork.

“You see this technique a lot on North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound, but few anglers do it in Georgetown. But it’s really effective, and as much as I love catching big redfish with cut bait, it doesn’t compare to catching them on a swimbait under a popping cork,” said Thomas (336-240-5649).

Thomas suggests using heavy duty gear for this kind of fishing.

“You need a really stout rod, a 5000- to 6000-series spinning reel that can take a lot of drag, a popping cork with a concave head, and a real stiff hook,” he said.

A 5-inch Z-Man Grass KickerZ is one of the swimbaits he employs often for this rig.

One reason Thomas said fishing this way is preferred by many anglers is because it’s a much more active way of fishing.

“Fishing with cut bait, you’re casting out, placing the rods in rod holders, then waiting. But fishing with a popping cork rig, you’re constantly casting, working the lure, then fighting fish,” he said.

But it does take some work.

“You want to pop it, almost violently. That’s when I have my best luck, is when I really pull it hard. And you want a cork with that concave head, which makes a glugging noise,” he said. “And you want to make short little jerks, with four or five seconds in between.”

Thomas said this is good for casting into open water where bait is present. Sometimes the fish bite it early and often. Other times, it takes a lot of casting and retrieving before you’ll catch your first one.

“You have to be persistent. Just throw it and throw it and throw it. Sometimes you get bites early and it makes it easy. You just have to be real persistent if you don’t,” he said.

The payoff is more than worth it, for Thomas and for anglers of all experience levels.

“I’ve had a lot of customers tell me they’d take catching one like this for catching ten with bait off the bottom,” he said.

About Brian Cope 2762 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.

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