Florida Sportsman Guide
like to catch a Cobia. Iíve been trying for several years and only
caught a few shorts.Ē I hear that several times each summer and I
donít remember many folks going home without catching one. If folks
want to target Cobia, we generally catch them. In fact, it is an
unusual day in the summer when we donít catch several with 50% or more
being legal whether we are targeting them exclusively or not. This
doesnít mean that Cobia are accidental catches for Whopper Stopper,
by far, the easiest to catch of all large fish on this coast. For
the life of me, I canít see why more folks donít catch Cobia almost
every trip. Here are a few tips that should make you a better Cobia
works best but I often catch them on a Bonita fillet lying on the
bottom while fishing for Tarpon and Sharks.
#1 is the rig that catches about 65 % of the Cobia brought aboard
Whopper Stopper. Basic rig #XX
most of the rest with a few taken on artificial lures and flies.
Wire leader is not necessary except when
lots of Kingfish and big Spanish mackerel are around. Sharks are
seldom enough trouble to make me use wire.
Where? Darn near anywhere from the
rivers and flats to grass lines a hundred miles offshore.
A large percentage of grass flats Cobia
are accidentally hooked by Trout fishermen on bait or artificial
lures. Notice that I said ďhookedĒ instead of caught. Fifty % of
folks who are fishing for Trout will loose every Cobia they hook
because they are not prepared for a fish that can pull more than 5# of
drag. I have seen more than one person grab the spool to stop the
fish when line started screaming off the reel. Not a good technique
when you are fishing with 8# test! Iíd venture to say that 25% of the
boats out Trout fishing on a given day donít have a gaff aboard and if
they do, they donít have a clue how to use it.!
Lots of decent sized Cobia are hooked on
the flats but the larger ones are landed by guys who are
prepared. For most shallow water Cobia, 8# mono is entirely adequate
as long as you have a smooth drag, set right. With a 6í long 20#
shock leader with a foot or so of 50# mono for a bite leader, Iíll
cast at any Cobia that ever swam and feel pretty confident as long as
I have Rhett handling the boat. In deep water, light tackle isnít a
good idea because you canít apply enough pressure to lift a fish.
We catch more Cobia while bottom fishing
for Grouper than any other time. Why? I make 10 or more moves most
days. Sooner or later we are going to drop a baitfish in front of a
Cobia and hook up. Move around enough and you should get lucky
too. Cobia hang out on the same rocks that hold Grouper.
Ok, so you are too lazy to move around.
Invite Cobia to come to you. Enough fresh chum will pull Cobia a long
distance. Frozen ground chum works but fresh is best every time. If
you are going to stay in one spot and chum, pick a good spot. Large
breaks, channel edges, especially channel bends and intersections,
artificial reefs and wrecks are all great spots to chum. How you are
anchored in relation to the spot you are fishing is all important. I
canít stress this enough. Try to anchor so that your chum ! disperses
over as much of the structure as possible. Your baits should be
deployed so that any fish that follows the scent trail of your chum
will see them. Chumming on the grass flats and around deeper bars
works fine too.
Last summer, I added a new fishing weapon
to my arsenal, a Chum Churn. The Chum Churn is the best new piece of
equipment I have added to my boat in years. On tough fishing days in
mid-summer, sooner or later you are going to call in a Cobia. Most
days it doesnít take long. The sound made by the Chum Churn may be as
attractive to Cobia as the scent and chopped bait trail it produces.
Iíve seen Cobia, Spadefish and Mangrove Snapper come up long before
they could have scented the chum.
Think about this. If your bait is right
on the bottom, it may be hard to see for a Cobia that may be swimming
a few feet off the bottom. I like to have one bait about 6 feet off
the bottom and another right under the boat within 3 feet of the
surface. Believe me, this shallow bait gets bit often and you better
make sure that the drag isnít locked. A baitfish suspended about 6í
under a float and about 30 feet behind the boat gets hits from fish
attracted by the chum.
I canít help but mention fishing channel
markers. Everybody fishes channel markers and they catch Cobia.
Sometimes you need to stand in line or have a reservation to fish some
of the gang markers. One Saturday last year I was chumming for
Spanish mackerel and Cobia along the edge of the Crystal River Coal
Canal. A steady procession of boats stopped to fish marker 28. As
soon as one boat left, another tied up (illegal) or anchored near the
marker. This went on the entire tide. If there isnít a boat fishing
a channel marker, I ride by close and look. If I see a Cobia, I
usually catch it.
Which bait? Most of the time it doesnít
matter what live bait you use. Cobia will eat about anything from
Glass minnows to Stingrays, crabs to Filefish and seagulls to
turtles. Live Eels are hot bait but not always easy to obtain. For
tournament fishing, I wouldnít enter unless I had several Eels. Eels
are a pain in the butt to handle because of the slime and a fresh out
of the well Eel will twist up into a ball and around your line. In my
opinion, a 10-12Ē live Squid is the best of all baits for almost any
fish I fish for. I donít think anything t! urns down a Squid.
Unfortunately, the only time I get to use a Squid Is when I catch one
From my point of view, a Cobia is the
best fish we have around here. It is great to eat, much more fun to
catch than Grouper and they average a heck of a lot bigger than most
other fish. For many of my clients, the Cobia they catch will be the
biggest fish they have ever caught. Try to explain why you have to
release the biggest fish they have ever caught when they catch a 32
I have a couple of other Cobia fishing
tips that I share with my clients if the occasion to use them
arises. I gotta hang on to something.
During the months of May and June, Big Bend fishing centers around
the many annual Cobia tournaments.
long, slim fish with broad depressed head; lower jaw projects past
upper jaw; dark lateral stripe extends through eye to tail; first
dorsal fin comprised of 7 to 9 free spines; when young, has
conspicuous alternating black and white horizontal stripes.
remora, Echeneis naucrates.
Where found: both
INSHORE and NEARSHORE inhabiting inlets, bays, and among
mangroves; frequently seen around bouys, pilings, and wrecks.
Size: common to
103 lbs., 12 ozs.
in spring and early summer; feeds on crabs, squid, and small fish.
* The Florida
records quoted are from the Department of Environmental
Protection's printed publication, Fishing Lines and are not
necessarily the most current ones. The records are provided as
only as a benchmark.
Min. Size Limits:
Not less than 33" at the fork
Daily Rec. Bag Limit:
1 per person per day or 6 per
vessel per day, whichever is less
A Saltwater products license and
restricted species endorsement are needed to sell cobia or exceed