Personal Best Cobia- 4/1/12- PC

The turkeys have kicked my butt this year. Between the birds and trespassing 4 wheel riders on my lease, my post-deer season success has been null. Decided to forgo the last day of my quota hunt and try hunting for a Cobia along the beach. It was forecast to be flat calm, so I figured I might be able to rig something for height and not have to worry about the waves knocking me off. Saturday was spent building our 'tower;' A 6 foot fiberglass ladder zip tied to the deck of the boat. Deck space is very limited on our small 19 footer, but we made do.

Here is a pic of the final product. Note the rod holder, also zip tied into place :grin


I was pretty proud of how Alicia and I managed to get it in there. The cooler usually sits in front of the Center Console, right beneath the ladder, but we couldn't get it to fit. So, instead we had to put it in the rear corner of the deck. I figured, while I was inconvenienced, might as well bring the bigger 120 qt. cooler that I use for aging deer meat, just in case. That turned out to be a good decision.

I set out the pinfish trap in my secret hiding spot, and we went to howells and bought 2 live eels. I figured if I got the opportunity to use one of them, I would be happy. At 4.50 a pop, I really couldn't justify buying too many, but the over prepared fisherman mentality buzzing in my ear really tried to get me to buy more. At one point I almost didn't go get them, for fear we wouldn't be able to keep them alive through the night. But, after talking with the woman at Howells, she assured me that they would be alright. Another good decision, I'll tell you why later.

To bed we went, full of high hopes and dreams. We got up early and I was reminded very quickly that it was April fools. I consider myself a real prankster, so I tend to take April Fools off and leave it to the amateurs. Everyone is expecting it, and a lot of good pranks can bed wasted. Well, my neighbor paid me back for a kingfish that I ziptied under his rear bumper several months ago, that took him 4 days to find in the sweltering heat, and put dog poo under all my truck door handles. It was irritating to say the least, and it delayed our trip by almost an hour. You can read about the whole ordeal here

Later, he made a case for himself when he noted that we would have never been at the exact place at the exact time on the water to catch the fish. I applauded his rationality, but he is still on the permanent prank list.

After our delay, we launched out of city marina and headed to the pass. It was a little crowded in the pass, and overcast, so the first hour or so of spotting was pretty tough. We also appeared to be the first boat running the beach, which also made it kind of difficult because I had no clue if I was cruising in the right area. Pretty soon, though, more and more boats started to show up, and it became clear that there is no 'best' place to look. The ladder was not the most comfortable perch in the world, and I found myself constantly having to re adjust. That, and a rogue wave every now and then made it TOUGH fishing. When we got to the Dan Russel pier I saw a HUGE pod of red drum. At least 200 fish. We got in front of them several times and tossed live pinfish right on their nose, but only managed one strike that didn't stick. It was really cool to see though, and felt accomplished to have been able to spot something from our 'tower.' On we went, at this point the clock is approaching 12 noon.

The sun is getting HOT and the waves have slicked out to nothing. About 30 minutes after we passed the Pier Park pier, I see a big ol' loggerhead turtle relaxing on the surface about 100 yards off our bow. When I used to work on a charter boat, we saw them all the time, and I would always make one or two casts towards them to see if a Cobia was trailing. As we got closer to the turtle, I became entranced in its willingness to let us get so close without diving down. When we were about 35 yards away, I saw the unmistakeable silhouette of a piscatorial palate pleasing (citation: coined phrase of Capt. Cefus) ling slowly easing alongside. I quickly grabbed my pre-rigged eel out of the ice bucket and chucked it 15 feet in front of the Cobias nose. The fish swallowed that thing up so fast I knew it was game on. I gave it a 10 count to run with the line and then drove the hook home. Amazingly enough, the fish didn't know- or care - it was hooked! it swam right towards the boat and just kind of eased long the surface and presented me with an early gaff shot which I wasn't prepared for. I'm actually really glad I didn't take it because that green fish would have done some DAMAGE in our boat.

About the time the fish gave me a gaff opportunity, it saw me and realized something wasn't right. Then it took off like a bat outa he** and ran for the deep open water. At this point, I'm just praying that I got a good hook set. All the tackle was fresh and the rod setup was perfect for this fish, so my mind was at a little bit of ease. We followed the fish for 45 minutes, always staying on top of it to wear it out faster. After what seemed like a lifetime, full of head shakes and tail bats, I started to feel her come up. I told Alicia to get the gaff ready and explained that I would hand her the rod right after I stuck the fish (she can't throw a gaff, and I certainly wasn't about to let her start trying again on this fish.) As soon as the fish came into view I heard her say " that's a shark." A common rookie mistake, since she's never seen a Cobia on the water. She then turned to put the gaff down. :nono:nono . I sternly reminded her who she just identified a fish for, and demanded her attention. When I stuck the fish, it darn near pulled me overboard. I fell to my knees and it took everything in me to hold onto that gaff. When I slung it into the cooler, I let out the biggest holler of my life, and the fish proceeded to DESTROY my 120 qt. cooler. At that point, and even now, I didn't care. The entire fish's body wouldn't fit into the cooler, so the tail became a swinging weapon for the next 10 or 15 minutes while we dog piled on top of the now broken lid. That was it, game over, big fish in the box. Our ice was really starting to melt and I didn't want to risk spoiling the fish so we headed for the hill. I'm pretty sure my adrenaline pushed the boat an extra 2 knots on the way in.

The fish bottomed out my 50 lb. scale...and I'm 6'2 for reference. If I had to guess, I would say 55 lbs.




So, Here's why I'll never go offshore during the spring time cobia migration without at least 1 live eel (as long as they are available). This fish had 4 crabs, 5 eels, and a small skate in it's stomach. It was slap FULL. Had I not had that eel, I'm not sure the fish would have eaten. Thankfully, I'll never have to wonder.
They Can't Us "You Should Have Been There Yesterday"...........Because We Were!


  • DudeDude Posts: 1,789 Officer
    Nice work Capt. Poopy Paw!
  • BeckBeck Posts: 2,332 Captain
    Nice report and a great Cobia.......I gotta get my butt in gear and head south!
  • crcattypccrcattypc Posts: 632 Officer
    That is awesome man!! Congrats... crabs and eels, jigs suck
  • donald811donald811 Posts: 479 Deckhand
    Good deal Mac, it don't get no better than that.:Rockon
    Life is a lot simpler when you plow around the stump.
  • WhiteArvilWhiteArvil Posts: 20 Greenhorn
    Great narrative and even better photos....U de Man! Well done
  • Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 8,028 Moderator
    Awesome catch and great story! We gave it a very half hearted attempt on Sunday.

    One thing... you might want to reconsider this strategy...
    We followed the fish for 45 minutes, always staying on top of it to wear it out faster.

    Straight up and down is no way to wear out a cobia, or really any fish for that matter. All that fish has to do is keep her head down and then you're trying to pull those pec fins up through the water column. Just an occasional caudal fin swing and it takes very little energy for that fish to get the better of the angler. You're much better off fighting them aross the water and not letting them swim the way the want. We boated one almost that big on a 7'6" live bait trout rod and 12# line a few weeks ago. Never would have put the fish in the boat fishing straight up and down. We worked her into shallow water and then played the "angles," hence the term "Angler" on it.

    Still a great job. When is dinner?
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
  • Ketch-upKetch-up Posts: 305 Officer
    I had that some cobia :huhbehind my boat about a week ago, he didn't want a live pinfish then either. He was close enough to have gaffed when he was swimming behing the engine-I knew better than to try though. Good work getting him in. Great tasting fish also.
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