Finding the Fish
I ran standing on my cooler seat sometimes steering with my foot and sometimes bending over and steering with my hands. We were looking for the dark shadow of a manta, and in the distance I could see a moving area of darkness.
As I idled over to the shadow, my partner, Sam, prepared to cast ahead of the moving shape. He was casting a 6/0 black bucktail jig with a ten-inch plastic worm trailer. The jig went into the water ahead of the ray, as Sam began working the jig back.
A convincing imitation of an eel, the jig was picked up almost immediately. Sam set the hook and began fighting the fish. Now, you must realize that cobia can be funny fish when it comes to fighting. I have had cobia hooked offshore and fought them for many minutes before they actually realized they were hooked and in trouble. Such was the case with this one.
Boating the Fish
Sam essentially reeled the fish right to the boat. Without thinking, I did something very stupid. I saw an opportunity to get this forty-pound fish in the boat the first of the season mind you and I took it. As the cobia swam up next to the boat, I grabbed the gaff and in one motion hit the fish and brought him aboard.
A Bad Mistake
The one thing you never want to do is bring a big, green fish aboard. By green, I mean a fish with a lot of fight left. You absolutely do not want to bring a green cobia aboard.
Sam suffered a dorsal fin in his leg, and two rods two very good rods were broken as I stood on the cooler watching. Sam was trying his best to get this fish out of the boat. You may have seen a fishing product commercial on TV that includes a video of a hooked marlin that would go about 200 pounds leaping into the back of a large charter boat. The scene that followed included that marlin tearing up everything in sight as the captain yelled from the flying bridge to get that fish out of the boat. Those scenes flashed through my mind as I watched this cobia thrashing. Sometimes is just doesn't pay to get up.
We ultimately got that cobia subdued and were able to fish with the two remaining rods we brought that day. We ended up bringing back two cobia for the table and releasing three others. But the day was an expensive one.
Catch One for Yourself
Cobia will begin to show themselves up and down the beaches in the spring, and if you can find their moving structure the manta rays you can catch them with relative ease. If you have live mullet or menhaden shad, they will do well for bait. But that black jig with a ten inch black plastic worm does wonders for me.
As you fish, please do yourself a favor. Under no circumstances bring a green cobia into the boat! Oh, and if you choose to shoot one in the head, do it outside the boat. It can be very embarrassing explaining that hole in your hull to the repairman at the boat yard!