10 Top Popping Spots

Nothing's more exciting in fishing than massive topwater strikes, and here are 10 places in the world that rank among the best to experience that rush.

April 10, 2014

Have popper will travel — to these most exciting spots for the world’s most exciting style of fishing.


Angler with a huge giant trevally caught fishing in Oman


A good place to start our tour is surprising Oman. One needn’t do more than take a quick look at No Boundaries Oman’s web site to get the picture. In fact many pictures — showing giant trevally of truly giant proportions with mangled poppers hanging from their maws. While you can fish here year-round, mid-September through April is prime period. No Boundaries Oman prides itself on tagging and releasing the GT that anglers catch. Courtesy No Boundaries Oman


Angler holding a tuna fish caught in The Seychelles in the Indian Ocean
The atolls and small islands scattered about this vast watery Indian Ocean world make the word “remote” dramatically insufficient. Little surprise that ops to pop await everywhere — Desroches, Farquar, St. Joseph’s, Alphonse, St. Brandons and other areas all offer GT, jobfish, tuna (yellowfin and dogtooth), emperors, red (bohar) bass, coral trout and much more. Check out the action in this Desroches Island photo gallery, this Seychelles flats-on-fly gallery or this Seychelles fishing video. Courtesy Desroches Island Resort


Fisherman holding a huge tarpon caught in Gabon
Gabon would have to rate as one of the best spots anywhere for tossing poppers from the surf. The beaches off Loanga National Park offer tarpon, huge cubera (aka African red) snapper, giant African threadfin, oversize jacks and barracuda; the same species are also available to anglers fishing Ndogo and Iguela lagoons from boats. Read more about fishing Gabon here. Courtesy Julien Lajournade, Voyages de Peche


Red drum caught while fishing in Venice, Louisiana
As with many of the top popping places in the world, the northern Gulf of Mexico offers a variety of popping options, from blue water to nearshore rigs to the endless marshes. You could, in a day, throw poppers to bull redfish, big jacks, cobia, yellowfin, mahi and more. Although not all the action is on top in this Venice, Louisiana, fishing photo gallery and fishing video, they’ll give you an idea of the opportunities. Courtesy Capt. Sonny Schindler, Shore Thing Charters


Big bluefin tuna fish caught in New England
You needn’t head to equatorial reefs for great popper action. Starting in May, try southern New England for bluefin tuna. June, September and October are hot months, and in fact, November can be outstanding between early weather fronts. There are tuna skippers who cater to the “jiggypop” crowd, like Capt. Dom Petrarca (Coastal Charters Sportfishing), the “jigging and popping specialist” who fishes up and down the southern New England coast. Watching bluefin tuna of 200 pounds and at times much more compete to clobber big poppers qualifies as one of fishing’s ultimate thrills. Courtesy Capt. Dom Petrarca


Patrick Sebile with a fish caught in Australia
The seemingly infinite bommies (coral heads) and reef structure off northeastern Australia are home to a host of predatory game fish ready to attack large, loud poppers — giant trevally, red bass (bohar snapper), coral trout (grouper) like this beauty caught by Patrick Sebile, Maori wrasse, green jobfish, narrowbarred Spanish mackerel and others. Figure on top-shelf spinning gear with no less than 100-pound test, here. See this GBR fishing photo gallery for an idea what the fishing is like. Here is more information on Great Barrier Reef fishing and how to book a trip. Doug Olander


Angler with a Sierra mackerel fish caught on a popper lure in Panama
This country’s rocky Pacific coast is rife with reefs and rocky headlands interspersed with sandy beaches and it all shouts roosterfish, cubera, trevally, sierra and more — plus just a bit farther out, you can pop for yellowfin, mahi and maybe a billfish. Quite a few excellent fishing resorts have established operations on Panama’s coast; one of the best-known with the longest run is Tropic Star Lodge at Piñas Bay. See a video of insane tuna topwater action shot off Panama. The author, a longtime fan of Sierra mackerel, holds up a beauty here after it smashed a popper in the Perlas Islands. Courtesy Dave Lewis


Angler holding a big giant trevally in New Caledonia
Indo-Pacific reefs inside this huge French island’s fringing lagoon, passes and outer edges of the reef truly teem with life — where much of that life is big, mean and hungry — and not likely to pass up a hapless, struggling popper. The GT are massive by any measure, as are the mega coral trout (long, aggressive, colorful grouper that lay in wait atop reefs), narrowbarred Spanish mackerel, behemoth Maori wrasse, voracious red bass (snapper that love to dash up from reefs to nail anything moving above) and much more. However, with the demise of an outstanding French fishing operation, Poissone-Banane, dedicated and reliable sport-fishing operators are hard to find, here; I found this New Caledonia fishing company online, but have no experience with it. Courtesy David at Poisson-Banane


Fisherman holding a dogtooth tuna fish caught while fishing in Vanuatu
One need only glance at the Ocean Blue web site to see that few places on earth promise more hardcore popping action than the tiny ocean nation of Vanuatu, located north of New Caledonia and about 1,300 miles east of Cairns, Australia. Anglers on the trips customarily hooks trophy fish on top — and that includes a number of blue marlin as well as dogtooth tuna like this one. Courtesy Ocean Blue Fishing


Angler Dave Lewis holding a fish caught in Madagascar
Reputedly the world’s fourth-largest island, Madagascar is surrounded by prime popping waters in the Indian Ocean off southeastern Africa. GTs and other trevally, various types of snapper and grouper and an amazing array of still more species. Though the northern end (around Nosy Be) has gotten more pressure in recent years, much of the rest of the island remains lightly fished indeed. Read more about Madagascar Fishing Adventures and how to plan a trip. Dave Lewis

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