Better fisherman than I am a turkey hunter... PCB - 3/18/12, Sheepies and a suprise

Some pics... report to follow... just took sheepie filets out of the grease!

6 hours on the water

15 sheepies
10 spanish (I think)
1 cobia... probably low 50s. When we boated him we said 60, but of course we had some ice / ground shrinkage over the course of the day as emotions eased.

Fish was much larger than she looks in the picture with my buddies and the sheepshead. In that pick she'd just come out of that box and she and not been straightened out at all. We used some very interesting techniques to get her bent up and crammed into that box.


Report: I'll go ahead and admit that hooking the cobia took zero skill. However, the circus that followed was fairly impressive.

Yesterday morning - we get somewhat of a late start yesterday. At around 9:30 we pull away form the dock and we were headed to the marina for some live shrimp. Our plan was to sheepshead fish for a little while for some guaranteed dinner, and then go look for a cobia while casting to spanish and tossing them in a brine. Well, we get our shrimp and head to a spot on the rocks for some sheepies. As we're trying to find a spot to anchor we watch a couple come over the rail and I figure that this won't take long. We ge anchored and only one boat is catching them. They are the inshore-most boat on the east side of the east jetty. Between us and him are two other boats with a pretty good fetch between the 2nd most inshore boat and the one catching the fish. Let's go there!

Pull anchor and we get situated just right. The two boats offshore of us are not nearly as close to the rocks as we are. While anchoring we watch the fish-catching boat put two more in the boat, so I'm pretty excited. The boat settles in and I go back to the cockpit and grab my 7' live bait trout rod with a 5 year old reel (brand will remain nameless, but it's not terribly well thought of) that has never been maintained at all. It was like $50 and I considered it pretty much disposable when I bought it. Yesterday morning, I did, however tie a new braid to mono knot, and all new knots for my sheepshead rig. 20# braid, 12" mono topshot, 20# P-line flouro leader and a Gagamatsu 1/0 octopus hook.


So boat settles in and run back to the cockpit and flip a shrimp out next to the rocks. Nothing, nothing, THZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! Goes my line. Crap. In no time I'm down to about half of a 300 yard spool fo 20# braid. The fish is headed pretty much straight offshore, but fortunately has left the next two boats offshore of me to his SE, so we're clear there. Everybody on board asks if I want to pull anchor. I said nah... I've got about 10 more seconds and i'm out of line. I grab the smoking hot spool and start thumbing, more... more... more... gotta try something... more... WHOA! It stopped for a brief moment and even with probably 200 yards of line out and that 7' limp live bait trout rod, I felt a head shake... like when a "cobia" tries to throw up a bait. Anchor! Anchor! Anchor! I screamed. This whole time I had really been thinking big sting ray or jack crevalle. It's really hard to jude the species of a fish when you can't put but maybe 3 pounds of pressure on them. Okay, I'm now thinking cobia.

Well my two buddies are dealing with the anchor and my fish is now out in deep water and begins to head down the beach (towards the pass. Remember, we started next to the beach on the east side of the east jetty from an anchored 34' single screw boat in heavy traffic). I'm seriously like 80% certain this is a cobia, so I'm willing to start barking orders at strangers. As the fish heads down the beach, my line starts getting closer and closer to this aluminum walleye boat that's fishint out past the tip of the rocks with his line running to the S. They are just barely within ear shot, so I yell to them, "In a minute you're going to see some green braided line come up your anchor line. I've got a big fish on the other end. That line is going to ride up your anchor line. Pleae pick it up and either pass it over the boat, or just hold it above your boat, dpending on where the fish wants to go!" He looks at me so as to respond, "What the heck are you talking about?" I repeated. He goes to the bow and is looking down. He looks back and me and shrugs his shoulders. I just pointed back at the water and then at my eyeballs and then back at his anchor line. He looked back down and then the next thing I know, he grabs my line and walks about half way back to his boat and he's holding my line in the air. Fish is barely taking line at this point and we're moving forward on the anchor. The aluminum boat is probably 60 yards from us and the fish is probably at about 200 and making his way down the beach quickly. It was too funny, as we pulled up on the anchor pretty much S, and the fish headed WNW, my line literally pivoted about exactly where that guy was standing. We got the anchor up, drifted NW with the current back towards the rock and behind the other two boats offshore of us, and then spun her around and started making our way towards the boat holding our line. Once clear of the other two, we headed to the south so as to put a little bend in the line, and I instructed the guy to let go. He did and the line hit the water about 15' from his bow with a straight on shot to the fish with no traffic.

Next step was to gain some line. I ran around the cabin and to the bow and we ran the fish down to gain some line back. Once I was comfortable with the capacity I came back tot he cockpit where I could communicate with whoever was on the helm. We are now in the middle fo the pass with about 100 yards out and I see brown up top! Bingo! Cobia.

We're keeping good pressure on good angles out there in that deep water because he was up top, but I could not afford to play the straight up and down game with that gear. We decided we needed to try and move him into shallow water. Problem is, with 12# line you really can't move a big fish like that when you're straight up and down. We need to pull him across the water and just keep enough capacity to feel secure in not getting dumped. Problem is, I can reduce that angle to get him up top without having to worry about getting clipped by jetski / pontoon / who-knows-what at the tip of what now are the west jetties. About this tiem we some boats circle us up to watch and that cut down ont he jet-ski / pontoon crowd.

So, we slowly work the fish past the west jetties and started to get him on the green reef. He made one more blistering run when he saw that shallow water and we let him. We got him back up top again and just kept steady pressure on him, using the boat a lot of the time and we finally got him onto the sand bar. We zig-zagged with him to the W ((using the boat as much as the fried reel and noodle trout rod) down the 2nd sand bar keeping him up top and in shallow water for about another half hour, and finally got him to the boat. Could have been game over, but we had one missed shot with the faff.

I had zero lifting power with that rod, and I swear to you guys, when the 1.5 oz lead came out of the water, it maxed that rod out. I'd walk forward in the cockpit as far as i could in order to get the fish close, but then my line would come close to the rail and nobody dared leader the fish. The only reason we still had him on was because the circle hook at got him just below his eye on a piece of skin (or had re-hooked itself there) and was just barely hanging on. Bad news here, but good news in the fact that it kept that 20# off of all things abrassive. So we missed chance one and then spent about 5 min straight up and down. I'm fearful that he's down there resting up, so we take off down the beach with the boat and put about 50 yards between us and again start workign side/side angles on him across the top. He came up top again, but unlike the last time, we were able to surft him on into the boat a little easier, and got elevated (cooler lid) and didn't hold my rod tip quite as high. This allowed me to have more pulling power since I have no lifting power on that rod, and I was able to put a few more oz of pressure on him there at boatside (which came at the expense of less shock absoprtion from the rod. Good new is that I had light drag and was doing most of that with my palm... should he had had a burst, I think I could have let go of that spool and been okay)... so we surfs, in... I give it all I possibly can with that rod, and we sunk a gaff in him finally. Game over.

Another shot of the hook in his face...


Light tackle is such a stressful thing. They say lots of folks loose fish from not putting ENOUGH pressure on them... too much time means hooks and knots fatigue, or hooks wear through flesh, fish are able to figh you in rounds, etc. I believe all of that, but just look at this... granted, I only had 12# topshot on that wimpy rod, so I really couldn't have pulled any harder than I did, but If I have, I don't know how the picture above woudl ahve held up. I guess it's all a judgement thing. Also, it's not like this was an 800# bluefin on light gear in 1,000 ft of water. I figured we'd get this fish eventually if we coudl keep him shallow and just wear him out. It turned out okay in the end.

We had a few boats watching us and they were probably expecting a 100 pounder to come over the rail given the length of the fight. We probably looked like a bunch of idiots out there, but whatever. We got the fish and I was sure to let them all know that it was on a 7' noodle with 12# gear.

Here's another shot of the fish (and the rod) back at the dock. Unfortunately she looks bigger when help up by a skinny feller, but it was still a quality fish. In this picture I'd already knocked one side off...hence the crooked looking neck and ability hold up (still with quite a bit of effor, though) with one arm. She had one of the widest dang frog-heads I've ever seen on a cobia and had some sersiously thick and meaty shoulders on her.


Ol' toad head!


Here's what I meant by her being just a tad bigger than the 124qt cooler...


I'm really not sure what the weakest link in the whole deal was... the hook set, the hook, the 12", or the 7' live bait trout rod. All-in-all, a fish we had no business boating, and by far the most unluckey ling in the GOM. I will say that boat handling and communiication was just about top-notch and it made the catch possible. I'll be the first to admit that luck still had a lot to dow ith it.

Whole thing took about 45 minutes and took us probably 3/4 of mile from where we started. We idled back to the rocks and casted to some spanish, then we anchored up on my favorite sheepshead spot and put 15 of them in the boat in about an hour. After that called it day and headed back to the house.

Not a bad afternoon!

Major thanks to the guys from MN in the aluminum boat! Couldn't ahve caught the fish without them getting that line above their boat and in somebody's hands.

Aslo... this goes to show that a cobia on the bottom can be just about impossible to see... even in clear water, on a beautiful day in 12'. This fish had just run a guantlent of tower boats to our east. Hit the rocks, hung a left with the incoming tide and ate my shrimp. I don't predict and awesome sight-fishing year this year, but obviously there are some fish out there. I have learned of 7 or 8 that were cauht on a jig Thur, Fri and Sat... for what that's worth.
"Whatcha doin' in my waters?"


  • KlingerKlinger Posts: 1,596 Captain
    Good haul!! :thumbsup

    A side note on the turkey -- I'm not much of a turkey hunter, but my brother is good at it. He tells me the turkeys are already nesting here, so the mating season started early because of the warm weather. I do know they were gobbling in January during the deer season. More than likely the reason the cobia are running earlier than usual.
    In my many years, I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame,two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.-- John Adams
  • KayakMacGyverKayakMacGyver Posts: 975 Officer
    Well done Sir! I was sorely tempted after my failed turkey hunts yesterday and this a.m. (thanks to trespassers and a stray dog) to bust the boat out, especially with those FLAT CALM SEAS!! But, double duty 3:30 a.m. wakeup calls to get in the woods put me down like a whooped puppy. Looks like I missed out on some fun...You done well :fishing
    They Can't Us "You Should Have Been There Yesterday"...........Because We Were!
  • crcattypccrcattypc Posts: 632 Officer
    Come on Pan! You need to tell the story! It is a good one and I was expecting a detailed analysis of the whole thing. I have a few pics on my phone and will post shortly. That was a dam fine catch and some amazing angling on your part... Not to mention very very lucky!
  • crcattypccrcattypc Posts: 632 Officer
    The story is all true! Amazing catch
  • SAENoleSAENole Posts: 9,557 Admiral
    Nice work!
    I may be entitled to compensation.
  • RazzorduckRazzorduck Posts: 4 Greenhorn
    Well Played!!! Very impressive on the catch. So many things can go wrong during a long fight on light tackle. Sounds like you overcame your fair share!!
  • Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 7,810 Moderator
    Now... the best part!!!! I have decided that other than tuna, cobia might just be my favorite fish to eat.

    This was so simple... olive oil, butter, diced and pressed onion, fresh arlic, a squeeze of lemon, some black papper, a little sea salt and then toss em on the grill! So good. Did that over some rice with a cheese squash casserole and a salad. Hard to beat!

    Each loin was well over the length of a legal cobia... tasty tasty!

    Only thing I would have done differently was use a bit more heat on the grill. The steaks were cooked perfectly in the middle, but a touch more heat woudl have provided a bit more color and texture on the outside. Any longer at the temps we had going and the inside would have started drying out. SO... we saved inside texture, flavor and moisture at the expense of appearance and outside texture. Still DARN good.
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
  • Go MongoGo Mongo Posts: 2,105 Captain
    Wow. Great catch. Congrats.
    “Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”
    ― Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
  • ToxicToxic Posts: 20 Greenhorn
    Awesome ! thanks for sharing the story
  • KayakMacGyverKayakMacGyver Posts: 975 Officer
    Great story, and man that fish looks GOOD on the grill. Cobia is my favorite, though I've never had fresh tuna other than at a sushi restaraunt. Congrats
    They Can't Us "You Should Have Been There Yesterday"...........Because We Were!
  • KayakMacGyverKayakMacGyver Posts: 975 Officer
    BTW, what kind of bait are the spanish used for? You mentioned brining them. Do you troll with them for big pelagics?
    They Can't Us "You Should Have Been There Yesterday"...........Because We Were!
  • red010480red010480 Posts: 304 Officer
  • crcattypccrcattypc Posts: 632 Officer
    BTW, what kind of bait are the spanish used for? You mentioned brining them. Do you troll with them for big pelagics?
    I usually freeze them whole for snapper and grouper bait... but apparently some people to rig them like a swimming mullet for trolling... They are probably awesome as a trolling bait for wahoo, big dolphin or tuna... Marlin too I would think!
  • Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 7,810 Moderator
    BTW, what kind of bait are the spanish used for? You mentioned brining them. Do you troll with them for big pelagics?

    Well, I forgot to get salt Sunday morning, so there was no brining... we just threw them in the big cooler with the other fish.

    I have caught wahoo on the troll with them, big kings and one time had a billfish (most likely a blue) peel off about 100 yards of line only to have the single strand wire break (was fishing a king tourney). Reason I say it was likely a blue marlin is because I have heard stories of blues burrying their bill / mouth in the bottom after being hooked in shallow water. We were in about 85ft of green water, but the line peeled off like nobody's business, then it went dead, like we had the bottom hooked up. Then it just let go. We reeeled it in and the last two trebble hooks in the spanish were gone... the wire the connected those two to the live bait hook up front was cork screwed, the spanish was still whole but chaffed up, and in the mount of the spanish was sand, gravel and some type of plant stuff from the bottom. You tell me.

    All that being said 9/10 I end up using them for bottom fishing.
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"

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