Fishing with poppers

Surface Fishing

Surface Fishing

By Luke Galea


We all have our favourite forms and styles of preferred fishing applications, ranging from traditional baitfishing, through to game-fishing and even through to the “long-wand”, but for me personally, the most enjoyable form of fishing that stands head and shoulders above the rest has got to be surface fishing. I am sure that many people would agree that seeing a descent fish engulf your surface popper or stickbait in an explosion of foaming white-water is simply sensational and is a method that is second to none.

Some of the sights seen whilst surface fishing has caused anglers to be somewhat weak at the knees and waiting with baited-breath for the next strike (particularly after a swipe and a miss). In my opinion, NOTHING comes close to the excitement of a surface strike as it is extremely visual and that’s what keeps people coming back again and again. I know that it has had a serious effect on me.

Now I am not going to pretend like I have been there and done it all. Surely the pinnacle of surface fishing is with big chuggers and stickbaits and chasing big GT’s out on the outer reefs. I will state right now that chasing these fish is something I have only done a couple of times out of Lizard Island late last year. I was using a Shimano Stella 18000SW and GT Special rod and still managed to get busted off a couple of times in the coral and followed this up a few cast later by a small reef shark. Did we dominate the GT’s on this occasion? – No, but was it any less fun – Hell No! It was the thrill of the chase that we embrace as piscatorial hunters that still made this an awesome experience.

Closer to home in Mackay, I embrace surface fishing applications whilst fishing rocks bars and pressure points in the local rivers and chasing what I call - Mini Giants (small estuarine GT’s) as well as good sized Queenfish. These little bandits are still real thugs and still provide great fun in and around the structure and flow in which they are found. I have previously used a Shimano Stradic 4000CI4 for this scenario but have now upgraded it to a Shimano Rarenium 4000CI4 thanks to the guys at Shimano! I must say that both reels have performed flawlessly and both possess plenty of drag for this kind of situation. I usually go to this spot with my friend Altus who has a beautiful Shimano Stella 5000SW which makes short work at of almost everything that swims in our local estuary systems.

I often use a stickbait of around 100mm in length whilst Altus often prefers a popper of similar size. One thing for certain though is the fact my little Megabass stickbait gets slammed far more often than Altus’s popper. Maybe it’s the lure? Or maybe it the technique that we use which almost always ends up with the fish smashing my lure. What I mean by this is the fact that Altus throws his popper out first and makes plenty of splash and noise which gets the fish’s attention. Then I throw my little stickbait about 5m behind his popper and start my “walk the dog” retrieve. The little GT’s and Queenies nearly always grab the trailing popper. Try this method with your mates and I am sure it will work for you too. Just make sure you change it up and give your mate a turn of the stickbait!

It’s not only pelagic fish that enjoy hammering a surface offering though. I have had a lot of fun in my local Mackay impoundments, burning frog plastics across the top of the weed beds for Barramundi. When I mean burning, I mean the faster the better. It is almost a kind of Mackerel fast kind of retrieve and it does seem to be a bit odd, but the barra seem to get pretty damn excited and smash it.

The local Sooty Grunter population are another species of fish which are quite partial to a well presented popper or stickbait.

These fish I have mentioned in this article barely scratch the surface as to the variety of fish that can be caught on surface, but are definitely my favourites locally.
Those who have emplored this method would definitely be able to relate strongly to the excitement factor generated by this form of fishing and those who have not yet tried it….then, you seriously need to give it a crack.

Live It….Breathe It….