Often mistaken for a shark or shark sucker, the cobia species is dark brown with a single dorsal fin and occasionally found tagging along with sharks, rays, and turtles. Long, slim fish with broad depressed head; lower jaw projects past upper jaw; dark lateral stripe extends through eye to tail; first dorsal fin comprised of 7 to 9 free spines; Young cobia are more active than adults and are colored conspicuously with alternating black and white horizontal stripes with splotches of bronze, orange and green.
Cobia have a circumtropical distribution, and in the United States are found from Virginia to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Both INSHORE and NEARSHORE inhabitating inlets, bays, and among mangroves; frequently seen around buoys, pilings, and wrecks.They may be seen migrating in the late spring through coastal waters and bays. Cobia are known to live up to 10 years and reach a length of 6 feet and a weight exceeding 100 pounds. Females are usually larger than males, and reach sexual maturity when they are 36 inches long. A male will reach sexual maturity at 24 inches. The spawning season extends from late June to mid-August along the southeastern United States and from late summer to early fall in the Gulf of Mexico. Cobia eat some fishes, although the bulk of the diet is crustaceans (thus the common name “Crab Eater”).
Bait and Tackle:
Surf tackle with 30-pound test or more is recommended although they can be taken on lighter gear. Live baitfish such as Grunts, Jacks, Cigar Minnows and Mullet work best but live shrimp, crabs, dead fish or squid also work well. Artificial lures such as jigs, large streamer flies, spoons, and swimming plugs often work as well. Caution: If the fish aren’t tired when landed they are known to tear up boats.
￼Hella-Bomb™ Archives – Cajun Custom Rods
Hella-Bomb, model HB-966-2S matched with a 4500 or 5500 series spinning reel.
The HB-966-2S has the rod length needed to site cast for Cobia, the spinning variation allows for longer casts, the tip strength to cast up to a 2 ounce lure (ie, for big Cobia jigs), the rod action to work the lure with a natural presentation … and once hooked up, the rod action to keep and maintain constant pressure on the Cobia, and the rod’s powercore has the backbone to land them through the fight all the way to the boat.
The 4500 and 5500 series spinning reels have the drag and line spool capacity needed if you get into a large Cobia … you’ll need the drag to slow the Cobia down and wear them down during the fight (a Cobia is not the type of fish you’ll overpower … they fight and run too hard … so the right drag is your friend), and you’ll need the spool capacity on those reels to have enough line when the Cobia decides to make a few hundred yard runs or if they go deep.
Jaesen Yerger – Cajun Custom Rods
We mostly bottom fish, but Cobia frequently make an appearance during our summer and fall trips. My son, Will, who also mates on my charters always keeps a couple of rods ready with a pitch bait for quick presentation to a Cobia. These fish almost always grab those baits as soon as they hit the water. Cobia are great fighters and great on the dinner plate too. Here in south Georgia and north Florida they run from 10 to 30 pounds or more so sturdy tackle is a must. We use 700 series spinning reels on 7 foot rods rated for 30 pound line. Our terminal tackle consists of a 3 foot length of 40 pound fluorocarbon leader tied to a 6/0 heavy circle hook. We hook a live bait through the lips and put it in the livewell so its ready when we need it. When someone says Cobia, Will springs into action grabbing a rigged pitchbait and casting it in front of the fish. As soon as that rod hooks up he passes it off and gets another bait, since Cobia often travel in schools of 3 or 4. The battles can be epic, lasting 15 minutes or more. A word of warning, never bring a green Cobia aboard the boat, they can do some major damage. I once watched a 30 pound cobia blow the side out of the fishbox on a south Florida charter boat when the mate gaffed it and put it in the box after a very short fight. Many boats target Cobia in our area and success rates are pretty good, so don’t be shy about cruising the inshore waters looking for rays, sharks and turtles that are often shadowed by Cobia.
Captain Steve Gross
Phone # 973-600-1368
Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia (GA-NY)
• OPEN effective January 1, 2018.
• Note: NMFS implements accountability measures (AMs) for Atlantic migratory group cobia that are not sold (recreational) in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Atlantic. In 2015 and 2016, recreational landings of Atlantic migratory group cobia (Atlantic cobia) exceeded the stock annual catch limit (ACL), and therefore, AMs for the recreational sector were triggered for 2017. NMFS closed the recreational sector for Atlantic cobia in Federal waters on January 24, 2017, and it remained closed for the remainder of the fishing year through December 31, 2017. The fishery reopened on January 1, 2018.For more information, see:
• Federal Register Notice 82 FR 8363
• 2018 NOAA Fishery Bulletin
• Size Limit: 36 inch fork length (as specified in Coastal Migratory Pelagics Framework Amendment 4, effective September 5, 2017)
• Trip Limit: 1 per person per day or 6 fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive (as specified in Coastal Migratory Pelagics Framework Amendment 4)
• Regulatory Remarks:
• Drift gillnets are prohibited.
• Must be landed with head and fins intact
• Minimum size limit=36″ Fork Length; Daily possession limit =1 per person.
• One day possession limit.
• Charter/headboats require a permit for Coastal Migratory Pelagics.
• Annual Catch Limit (ACL) – This species is managed under an ACL. See current information on Recreational ACLs from NOAA Fisheries.
Excellent, smoked, grilled or fried.