February 26, 2024

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How to fish for Cobia : An Angler’s Guide

Reading Time: 7 minutes

When you hear the word Cobia, what comes to your mind? An excellent quality, high-speed boat? How about a fast and powerful fish? For all the saltwater anglers out there, you probably thought about both. But chances are the species came to your mind first.

Photo courtesy of Marco Deep Sea Fishing Charters

Anglers love Cobia because they put up a challenging yet rewarding fight. Their intense speeds and tough battles are enough to have fishers constantly on the chase for them. In addition to this, you can almost always harvest them, meaning you can head home with a tasty treat.

If that caught your attention and you’re wondering how you can get your hands on this species, keep reading and I’ll show you how! This is my angler’s guide to Cobia fishing.

Cobia Characteristics and Habits

Cobia are powerful predators of the ocean, reaching lengths over 6 feet. They often get mistaken for Sharks due to their similar body shapes and size, as well as the fact they often travel alongside them. However, they’re not related at all.

A smiling man aboard a fishing charter in the Whitsunday Islands in Australia holding a large Cobia in front of his chest with land visible in the distance on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Whitsunday Fishing–Reef Adventurer

You can identify a Cobia through a few key things. Their bodies are long and slim, with a mostly brown tone and a white belly after the lateral line split. Juvenile Cobia look similar but they also have black and white stripes. The same striped look occurs for spawning Cobia as well.

Cobia’s heads are pretty average in size, but they’re pretty thick. They have rigid fins along their bodies, with one large dorsal fin. Their tails are large, which they use to swim quickly and thrash around.

They spend most of their time hanging around inshore or nearshore structures on the prowl for something tasty. Not everyone who hooks up to a Cobia will catch it, but you can learn to be one of them as you continue reading. I’ll let you into all the secrets of Cobia fishing.

When to Go Cobia Fishing

Next up, it’s time to learn the best time to go fishing for Cobia. There are a couple of factors here such as seasons, time of day, conditions, tides, etc. Let’s dive in.

A man in a baseball har standing on a fishing charter in open waters on a clear day and holding a Cobia
Photo courtesy of Olivia J Charters

The most productive Cobia fishing season will vary for each region, but there’s one thing they all have in common. Cobia can withstand various weather conditions and temperatures, but they have a preference for warmer waters. Therefore, fish the warmer spring and summer months to maximize your chance of landing a Cobia.

One thing to note, though, is that they often migrate – and that can be for a while, especially during spawning season. In South Florida, they make their way to the area around winter time, while, in the summer months, they travel north. They inhabit various countries, but similar patterns occur everywhere.

The most productive biting times are around dawn and dusk, but a lot of anglers like to fish in the midafternoon when the sun is out. That way they can sightsee Cobia. It’s more exciting when you can see the fish, cast right on top of them, and then wait for them to lunge.

The best tide to fish when going for Cobia is an incoming tide. With an extra strong water flow, plenty of bait is pushed around and the Cobia are ready to strike. The same goes for strong outgoing tides as well.

By planning your trip around these factors, your chances of locating some Cobia have already jumped!

Cobia Fishing Hotspots

Now I’ll give you some insight on where you can expect to find Cobia. Cobia tend to spend time around bays, inlets, passes, beaches, sandbars, estuaries, reefs, wrecks, pilings, buoys, and more. They also enjoy following around large marine species such as Sharks, Rays, and even turtles.

A view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the distance at sunset, with a rocky beach in the foreground

As mentioned above, Cobia swim all around the world. As long as you stick to their preferred habitats, you should find luck no matter the region you are in. Here are just a couple of examples of popular Cobia hotspots:

  • Key West, FL. The Florida Keys, especially Key West, is a great location to find numerous Cobia starting in late December. The nearby reefs and wrecks – as well as those far offshore, such as Sturtevant Wreck – provide anglers with many opportunities to hook up to some Cobia.
  • Chesapeake Bay, VA. This is a popular Cobia fishing area in the northeastern US. The warm Atlantic waters bring in hungry Cobia during the summertime. Plenty of charters are ready to take excited anglers on memorable journeys.
  • Tortuguero, Costa Rica. A Costa Rican national park in the Limón Province that’s only accessible by boat or plane… this is a hit area for Cobia. Anglers get a tropical vibe when fishing here, as the beautiful plants and water provide incredible scenery.
  • Shark Bay, Australia. A popular fishing spot in Australia that’s booming with tons of marine life. Some of the largest Cobia ever have been caught in this area. It’s no secret that this is one of Australia’s finest fishing spots.

These are just a few well-known Cobia hotspots, and there are plenty more worldwide. You can easily do an internet search to find the closest Cobia hotspot to you. If you’re interested in traveling or looking for someone to guide you through the process, Fishing Booker can direct you to experienced Cobia guides. All you have to do is look!

How to Go Cobia Fishing

Moving on, I’ll shed some more light on how to fish for Cobia. I’ll explain the best methods used for getting Cobia to bite, and how to successfully catch them when they do.

A photo of an angler standing on a charter fishing boat while bottom fishing

First of all, make your way to an area with lively bait near structure – and it’s a bonus if there are other larger species in the area. Cobia like to swim just underneath the water’s surface, and there’s a good chance you may sightsee them. Sight casting is the most popular method for Cobia fishing but that doesn’t always work out.

Chumming the water is another good idea to attract nearby Cobia. If you’re in an area with a lot of structure and haven’t seen a Cobia yet, drop down some baits or use lures to entice them. Fish along the surface near floating structures or underneath the surface. You can even freeline bait towards the bottom with a sinker!

When you get a bite and the Cobia is well hooked, be sure to release tension throughout the fight and pull them from any structure they may steer to. Cobia are known to thrash and jump so be careful that slack or unbalanced tension don’t pull the hook or break the line.

The Best Bait for Cobia Fishing

Here we have one of the most important sections in this article – the best bait for Cobia fishing. Cobia will take a variety of real and artificial bait, so your chances at hooking one are high. Let’s see what works.

Multiple pinfish inside an aerated bait tank ready to be used as live bait for bigger fish.

For real bait, you can use live, dead, or cut bait for Cobia. A few examples of real bait that Cobia will go after include crabs, blue runners, squid, eels, shrimp, pinfish, mullet, and pilchards. You can catch most live bait by looking around beaches, piers, and bait piles. If you don’t have access to a cast net, check bait shops for live bait or buy frozen packs from a shop.

Following live bait, artificial lures work well for Cobia, too, especially when sight casting. Popular lures that entice Cobia consist of topwater lures, jigs, jig heads, soft plastics, flukes, and plastic lures that imitate crabs, shrimp, eels, and more.

Once you have your bait, you need something to put it on! Follow on to the next section that discusses the best gear for Cobia fishing.

Best Cobia Fishing Gear

You don’t need a setup that will cost you an arm and a leg but you do want something that can withstand tough battles. An average-action saltwater setup that you would use for Snook, Redfish, or even average-sized Tarpon will work great.

A closeup of two reels on fishing rods suitable for fishing inshore and nearshore, with blue lines fitted on the reels

A good example of gear for fighting Cobia includes a medium-heavy action rod and a 5000 spinning reel. 30 pounds of braid is a good start for your line but you can always up that. The same goes for your leader. A 40lb leader is an efficient beginning point but you can always increase them, especially if you’re in an area with a lot of rough structure. It’s also beneficial to have a hook sized 4/0 or higher to ensure a good hookset.

Once again, this is an average setup for Cobia and can be changed according to the location you’re fishing in, the size of the Cobia, how much structure is present, etc. But start with this setup and you won’t go far wrong.

Cobia Fishing Regulations

Strolling to the last section of this guide, I’ll close things up with the rules and regulations for Cobia fishing.

An infographic featuring an illustration of a Cobia followed by text that says "Cobia Fishing Regulations What You Need to Know" along with the FishingBooker logo against a blue background

As stated throughout the article, you can find Cobia in numerous countries and various seas across the world. Each region will have its own rules in regard to Cobia, based on the species’ population status and how the location may view the fishing industry. The best method for understanding Cobia regulations in the area you are fishing in is to look them up online – especially your region’s fish and wildlife conservation agency.

The overall rule that’s most important is the need for a fishing license. On average, everyone between 16 and 65 requires one. They’re not too expensive and you can purchase them online, whether it’s for a day, a year, or a lifetime. Following this, one needs to have respect for the ocean and its creatures when fishing. Be aware of harvesting rules, including bag and size limits, along with closed seasons.

Cobia Fishing: A True Adventure Awaits!

Two anglers standing on a fishing charter and holding a large Cobia each in front of an oil rig offshore on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Grace Fishing Charters

I hope by now you have a solid understanding of Cobia and how to catch one. If you’ve caught a Cobia before, share your story and photos in the comments below. And if you haven’t caught one yet, make use of the advice I’ve outlined above and tight lines!

As we already said, share your stories and photos in the comments below. Got a question for our team of pro anglers? You’re also welcome to get in touch!

The post How to Go Fishing for Cobia: An Angler’s Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Caitlyn Gatrell
Title: How to Go Fishing for Cobia: An Angler’s Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/cobia-fishing/
Published Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2023 11:06:51 +0000

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