The Cobia



By Buck Davidson

Ho-hum, another day in the Gulf of Mexico catching snook, trout and redfish. As you speed toward your favorite spot, though, your guide suddenly slows the boat to an idle beside a buoy marking the entrance to the channel. As you peer into the water, you can make out several large, dark shapes circling just beneath the surface. You turn to ask what they might be, but your guide is already tossing a baited hook toward the lurking fish. Ten seconds later, you are watching line disappear from the reel as something very large and very fast steams away from the boat. Snook fishing is postponed for an hour or so before a 50 pound cobia is brought to the gaff.

Such is a typical encounter with the inshore species predominant in Suncoast waters during the summer months. Cobia favor structure of some sorts, be it a channel marker, buoy or even a piece of floating debris. They lurk around these objects, waiting for shrimp, crabs and small fishes to wander within reach. It is rare to find cobia that are not hungry, and knowledgeable guides give at least a quick look around any type of structure they may happen to pass. If you should find cobia during your fishing trip, nearly any live bait will entice a strike, but be forewarned - a large cobia can give you a long, hard fight and will likely leave you with several aching muscles. Cobia are excellent eating, but if you plan to invite one home for dinner, know the rules: The limit is 2 fish per person, with a minimum size requirement of 33 inches to the fork of the tail. So don't forget - check those channel markers and buoys, 'cause you just neeeeveeerrr know. Get out and catch 'em, keep what you can use, release the rest and above all, save some for me. See you on the water.

/Buck

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