Fall is near and the fall fishing patterns are not far behind. One fish that doesn't come to everyone's mind for inshore fishing is the Cobia. When people usually think about Cobia, they think offshore. Although that is normally the case for these fish most of the year, during fall and spring these fish will make there way inshore hanging around pass bridges, inshore wrecks, and scouring the flats searching for their next meal. Most of the time when you find these fish, they are not alone. Either they are cruising around in small groups or tagging along with stingrays and/or manatees.They are mainly brown and white with a dark lateral stripe that runs from head to tail. Many people refer to them as the man in the brown suit. Their long sleek body, broad head, and long pectoral fins almost makes them look shark like. Although you don't have to worry about teeth, one thing to look out for are the first dorsal fins/ spikes right behind the top of the head.
Cobia are pound for pound one of the hardest fighting fish on the West Coast of Florida. Their body design makes for incredible long runs and being able to change directions in a blink of an eye! Even smaller Cobia put up insane fights, launching themselves into the air numerous times and never giving up until the very end. Never under-estimate the power of a Cobia. Larger ones have been known to bang up boats and people pretty badly. Although it can be hard to net these powerful fish, never gaff one unless you know for sure it is over 33 inches. If you do decide to keep one that meets the legal size limit, you are in for a treat. They are extremely good table fare.
Many times when catching these fish, I wasn't even targeting them. They will literally pop up out of know where.This time of year always be on the look out for these cruising fish on top of the water because that is usually going to be your best chance to present a bait to them. You always need to have something ready to throw at them like a free lined live shrimp, pinfish, crab, for when they are really on the prowl. Artificial baits like buck-tail jigs, Monster 3X soft plastics, and flies work great as well! None the less when you hook into a Cobia, you better have your best gear because they are definitely going to put it to the test!
The two different Cobia that I hooked earlier in the year were both on the flats while I was fishing for Snook, Redfish, and Trout. The first one I hooked was on a 8 wt. fly rod. My client and I were paddling back to the launch at the end of a trip when all of a sudden two Cobia popped up right in front of us. We chased them for what seemed like forever until we decided to split up to try to cut them off. It worked so I was able to site cast and landed my first fly-caught Cobia! The second Cobia I caught was while I was fishing in a Slam Tournament. I pitched a soft plastic towards the mangroves hoping for a big snook when a 44 inch Cobia inhaled my bait! I was only using a 3000 Shimano CI4 on a 6 1/2 ft St. Croix spinning rod with 15 lb braided line. Both setups were a little small for the task but, they got the job done leaving me whooped! I promise if you ever hook a Cobia on a kayak, it will be an epic adventure that you will never forget.
Till next time, be safe! Tight knots & Tight Lines!