These powerful fish are on the flats, beaches and just offshore and we’re catching them. One of the hardest fighting fish we encounter, cobia can be found cruising near the surface, hanging around structure such as rock, markers, wrecks and rocks. They also like to follow schools of stingrays in shallow water. The crabs, shrimp and baitfish flushed out of the sandy or grassy bottom by the flapping wings of the rays is the reason.
From the tower of the boat, we can spot cobia from a log way off. The drill once spotted is to maneuver ahead of the moving fish and set out a live pinfish or sardine to intercept them. Jigs, plugs and large plastic eels are other bait choices, but it’s hard to miss with a frisky live bait.
Once hooked, cobia will make long, powerful runs. It takes time to wear one of these monster fish down, and even then the second wind of cobia can amaze. In fact, bringing a cobia on board can be a bit unpredictable, as they often get a second wind when out of the water. Really big fish have been known to wreak havoc on equipment (and anglers), so we’re always careful about how we handle these beasts.
They’re not pretty and they don’t rank up there with gamefish like snook or tarpon, but cobia are tons of fun to catch, and they’re pretty good on the table. As they have to be 33 inches when measured to the fork of the tail, a single cobia can feed a crowd, and our anglers often opt to take them home just for that purpose. One of the best ways to prepare them is to cut the long, slender fish into steaks and cook them on the grill.