Spanish Mackerel on… Popping Corks?!

Sword Fight!
November 26, 2019

Julie Tomasik holds up a corked mackerel.

If you enjoy catching Spanish mackerel you probably have plenty of tips for catching more mackerel up your sleeve, know all about trolling for macks, and maybe even know how to try fly fishing for Spanish mackerel. But, would you ever think to try popping cork rigs?

Julie Tomasik holds up a corked mackerel.

I have to admit that throwing a popping cork rig for mackerel was the last thing on my mind when the water began erupting with a mix of Spanish mackerel and bluefish, just a few hundred yards away one day this summer. The surface frenzy was short-lived, and by the time we motored over it was a done deal. Still, we knew mackerel were in the area. While I quickly re-rigged with a casting spoon, two of the other anglers aboard (Julie, in the pic above, was one of them) instead threw their popping cork rigs trailing three feet of leader and a four-inch bite-proof plastic paddle-tail and started ripping back them with a rapid, walk-the-dog style cadence. Bam! Julie’s rod went down on the very first cast, and she cranked back a fat Spanish Mack. Boom! Mike’s went down next.

With two fish already flopping on the deck I finally finished re-rigging, and began slinging my spoon. To no avail. Meanwhile, Julie and Mike shucked the fish off their rigs and started casting again. Ka-Pow! Julie hooked into another one.

Long story short: Before the action ended that afternoon Julie and Mike had caught five mackerel and several bluefish. I cranked back one mackerel and a blue on my spoon. The popping cork rigs had out-caught the spoon by a significant margin, something I never would have expected. Added bonus: they never had to re-rig, and when the frenzy ended and we went back to casting the shallows they were still armed properly, which I had to cut off and re-tie yet again. So the next time Spanish mackerel start churning water and you have a popping cork rig on the end of your line…

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