Thanks to the combination of a steady southwest wind that kept the north end of the lake blown out most of last week and thunderstorms that necessitated running for cover, the incredibly easy bite all but disappeared. While the acres of shad that attract both the redfish and specks are still in the area, they were difficult to locate in the white caps and the gulls were nowhere to be found.

After salvaging a couple of trips by dropping back into the ICW and river with live bait, I accepted the fact that the southwest wind was going to blow and headed to the south end of the lake to, at the very least, fish calmer waters. Not surprisingly, it was not a whole lot calmer, but we quickly discovered where all of the gulls had relocated!

What did surprise me was that while we did not find any shad on the surface, small ribbon fish were everywhere and they were the entrée of the day. After managing to dupe only a few small keeper trout and four slot reds fishing tried and true methods the first day, we hit a homerun the following day by incorporating only a few minor changes.

I decided the solution was to throw something that mimicked a ribbon fish, but I threw everything from jerk baits to topwaters and Corkies with very little success. My clients continued to catch a few fish on bone diamond Sea Shads rigged under a cork, but it was still slow.

After slowing down long enough eat a plum and grab a drink of water, I threaded a glow-chartreuse 5-inch Assassin Shad on a 4/0 Mustad weighted hook and started another drift. The first drift produced two slot reds and the best trout of the day while the cork rigs failed to fool a single fish.

We left their corks on, but replaced their smaller Sea Shads with the longer version on the next drift under scattered birds. They still failed to get a single bite fishing the same lure under their corks while swimming the lure on a weighted hook produced three more keepers and several missed strikes.

On the next group of fish I swapped rods with one of my clients, but made one small change in his setup before giving it a try. I replaced the jig head with a 4/0 worm hook and fished the longer bait under the cork with the hook exposed. It was obviously a little harder to throw with no weight at all, but the results were well worth the hassle. The reds could not resist the slower fall of the lighter lure. Many times we saw the boil in the water as the fish inhaled the lure well before the cork ever plunged beneath the surface.

At least to my satisfaction, there was no doubt that we were doing a much better job of imitating ribbon fish by keeping the slower sinking plastic lures closer to the surface. The same Assassin rigged on a lead head never caught the first fish, but it didn’t get many more chances.

Now comes the most puzzling part in regards to our hard earned success story. I was trying to at least match the lighter color of the ribbon fish, but in his haste to get back in the hunt after tearing up a tail, one of my clients replaced his lighter colored bone diamond tail with a darker colored Texas Roach version and just wore us out until we could no longer tolerate the verbal abuse.

My best explanation is that after getting the length of the lure right and keeping it in the strike zone, the darker color was more quickly zeroed in only because it stood out in the middle of all of those silver ribbon fish. The following day we started out with darker colors and never saw a need to change back.

At least half of my e-mails every night are from folks unsuccessfully hunting Kwik Corks. I don’t know why stores like Academy don’t carry them, but I do know that you can go to and order them direct. There is at least one other oval cork out there with the all important titanium wire that works just as well, but the Kwik Cork is actually 50 percent cheaper because the folks at Bass Assassin include a replacement cork in every package.

I tweak my corks a little and save every harness including the eyelets on each end of the cork body when they finally wear out. Out of desperation I have salvaged oval corks off of other rigs, slit them long ways and put them on the original Kwik Cork harness.

Before you think I am holding out on you, I do two things as soon as I take the cork out of the package that eliminates later problems. The first is to tightly wrap a thin tie wrap around the center of the cork to keep the replacement slot from opening up and eventually tearing up the cork from repeated popping.

The second tweak is to slip a small piece of electrical connection shrink wrap over the top swivel leaving just the tie-on eye exposed. This will prevent the swivel from flopping over when the cork is at rest which results in the line wrapping around the wire.

We have proven time and again that you can take the Kwik Cork straight out of the package and catch fish, but the tweaks just make it even better. The successful adjustments we made fishing amongst the ribbon fish may change tomorrow, but not including the Kwik Cork in your fishing arsenal is a bad mistake!