We caught a keeper cobia in St.Augustine inlet yesterday!
We were flounder fishing on the Jetty rocks at the St.Augustine inlet, when my friend Sean yells "There's a cobia on the transom!" We are like "Whatever Sean".... then we see it too! HOLY $%&# it's really a cobia!
This is probably a 25lb fish, and I have a spinner bait and 10lb test in my hands.... I throw it at him. He looks, but won't eat it. I yell at Don to tie on a big circle hook while I keep him busy with dazed mullet I'm bouncing off the deck in front of him. He's hot and crushing every mullet, so I throw my jig at him again. He looks, but still won't eat, so I drop the jig in front of him.... cobia will almost always eat if they follow it on a dive. Sure enough, he follows it as it falls. I count to three, and close my bail. Fish on!!!! I jack his jaw 4 times like I always do, to make sure the hook finds purchase in their bony mouths. He's mine now I think.... then NOOOO! He spit it! My tiny hook was never set!
Instantly I've written off this fish in my mind as the coolest sighting I've ever had in the inlet.... no way a sore lipped cobe is coming back to the boat... and then he appears again!
The vicous cycle I just wrote above plays out exactly, AGAIN! Throw him dazed mullet.... eats my jig on the dive, set several times, then spit again, and shows up at the transom AGAIN! Mind you this whole scenario has unfolded in only a minute or two.... finally, Don has an 8/0 circle hook tied onto his 10lb braid. Tosses him a mullet, and we all gasp as this desperate mullet jumps away from the lings mouth over and over again, and finally, he gets it! Fish on! This was the third time this fish was hooked! But this time, he had the proper hook and it's locked into his jaw!
Next, a whole new problem is realized.... how the hell are we going to land this Fish? We are set for flounder.... no gaff on board, and a relatively tiny net. The best plan we can come up with, is to tottaly gas the fish, and then try to stuff his head into the little net while grabbing his body.
A half hour of fighting goes by, and the fish seems spent. We make the call to attempt landing. Deck is cleared, fish box is open, we are ready. I go for the scoop, and the cobia busts his head right through it! We put the entire rod and reel through the net in what I would like to think was amazing skill, but in reality was incredible luck.... and the fish is still on!
Busted net, no gaff, but we are not letting this fish escape us. Its going to be a risky grab. By the mouth, we might catch the hook. By the gills, we risk a slice.... by the tail, we risk sharp spines and/or a brutal tail whip.... we are discussing the best tactic as the fish comes boatside again. Sean grabs it by the gills, lifts it out of the water, and the fish thrashed out of his grip and falls back into the drink. Once again, the fish is boatside. Now it's my turn, and I go for the tail. He thrashed out of my grip. Boatside again..... this time I get both hands gripped on his tail, and manage to hoist him into the box!
The crowd goes wild, high fives and celebration ensues. We are all mind blown about what just unfolded in the inlet. Early fall.... water temperature 81 degrees.
I went live on Facebook to tell the story and show off the fish. Because it was a live video, I can't share it here but you can see it on my Facebook page.
Don, back at the dock.
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