Can you give me any information about cobia fishing that would help me be more successful?

Dear Captain "
Can you give me any information about cobia fishing that would help me be more successful? "

I have listed a few things that should help you with your cobia fishing. Applying some of them will increase your results.

Cobia on a Flyrod
  • Cobia are Pelagic fish which mean they roam the open ocean - live and grow near the surface
  • Cobia migrate north in the spring and south in the fall.
  • During the migration you will find them running along the beaches.
  • Cobia are batch spawners. They spawn in bays in late summer to early fall in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • They like high salinity water - you don't hear about anglers catching them in rivers.
  • They are attracted to floating debris, seaweed rips, channel markers, buoys, offshore platforms, sea turtles, manatees, large rays and more.
  • 70% of their diet is crabs. Nicknamed the crab eater, cobia love blue crabs, but they also enjoy fish and eels.
  • They are also called Lemonfish, ling, black kingfish and a few other names.
  • Cobia are known to feed on the surface at many of the mentioned structures but they will also feed heavily at the bottom of the structure.
  • Cobia are curious fish and sometimes show no fear of boats or noise.
  • Anglers site fish for cobia on the surface, but they are also found deep in the water column.
  • When catching a cobia at a structure above the surface like a channel marker, remember the location. It's likely you will find more cobia there in the future.
  • In the future if you check that channel marker or structure at the surface and do not see any cobia lurking around it, that doesn't mean they are not there. Many cobia will be unseen feeding at the bottom of the structure.
  • Cobia will also be found roaming the flats.

Tackle Recommendations for Cobia

  • Medium heavy to heavy spinning or casting rod
  • Minimum of 30 lb braid to 60 lb braid
  • 33 inches of 50 lb fluorocarbon leader
  • 4/0 to 7/0 hook depending on the bait size
  • J hook if I am holding the rod, circle hook if I send out a flat line.

These are general suggestions for tackle. Many anglers go lighter and some heavier.

Through experience I have found many times while fishing inshore structures like markers, bridges and offshore structures like reefs and wrecks for other species, cobia will be present.

While fishing, I cut up live bait like threadfins and scaled sardines. Threadfin preferably because it is oilier and bloodier. I then put out a flat line with a pinfish or a scaled sardine, maybe even a crab. Sometimes I balloon the bait to keep it higher in the water column and to keep sight of the bait.

max cobia 26

If I see a cobia and can not get his attention and he is about to leave the area, I will sometimes slap the water with my rod to make some surface commotion. This at times will get their curiosity and bring them back to take the bait.

I will blind fish any structure I have caught a cobia in the past at. I will use a live bait or jig with a piece of crab or cut bait. A high percentage of the time I will catch a cobia this way with out ever seeing it.

Many anglers mistake cobia for sharks and sharks for cobia. In the water at a distance they have the same appearance.

Once caught, cobia will fight hard but once landed they exhibit crazy uncontrolled behavior and can be dangerous in the boat. So if legal, get the fish right in the cooler and close the lid. If not, put a wet towel over its head and eyes. This will calm the behavior. If legal, you could also gaff the cobia. I prefer a heavy duty gripper rated to 125 lbs.

Note: Cobia have 7 to 9 spines before their dorsal fin, they are sharp and pointy, They are also retractable and will pop up and cut you open if not handled correctly.

I would say 60% of the time when I am fishing for mackerel at a bridge or marker and do a lot of fresh cut bait chumming I catch a cobia. So always have something ready for a cobia! Something a lot of experienced cobia anglers do is to keep a rod rigged with a long plastic eel and a half-to-one-ounce jig head. Tossing it in front of a cobia (do NOT hit it on the head - lead it a little bit) will often draw a strike.

If you would like to read more cobia fishing tips, please read Catching Cobia 101.

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Captain David M. Rieumont


The Online Fisherman

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