Dark-brown cobias with a single dorsal fin are often misidentified as sharks.
They travel in tandem with sharks, turtles, and stingrays hoping to feed on food they stir up in their travels.
Now is a good time to catch cobia. Anglers will ride the buoy lines in search of a cobia during wintertime.
Albert Buchman with a cobia caught in Boca Grande Pass on a live bait.
Young cobias tend to be more active than adults and are colored differently with black and white horizontal stripes.
Cobia live year round in South Florida and are part-time residents in other parts of the state.
Cobia tend to travel in small schools. There are resident fish in large west coast bays such as Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor. Boca Grande and the Gasparilla Sound have plenty of hungry Cobia to catch.
Cobia tend to hang around buoys, pilings, markers and manatees. They seem to be attracted to noise and will stay close to power plants in winter looking for warmer water as manatees do. Cobia feed primarily on crabs, eels and squid and fish.
A fierce fighting fish cobia, pound for pound, are powerful. Getting a cobia to bite is a challenge. Cobia appear temperamental at times leading to anglers frustration.
Often Cobia are referred to as "clown fish" because they appear to be smiling at you just daring you to test them.
Cobia are not a bashful fish. Surface noise will actually help lure a cobia to the side of a boat. On several occasions I have made what I thought to be that perfect cast while sight fishing for these chocolate torpedos and they chose to ignore the bait and give me that look of "catch me if you can."
Cobia rarely pass up a small live fish or crabs and the bait of choice for many cobia anglers is the live eel. Cobia can be picky eaters so make sure you have a variety of baits: live bait and several different lures work well.
In sight casting to cobia using a lure, it is imperative to cast past or over the fish while slowly working the lure back away from the fish. Anglers are often tempted to throw right at the fish, which will only spook the pod to disappear.
Do not reel the lure right up to a fish. The idea of using a lure is to imitate a live bait and it is not normal for baitfish to swim directly up to a predator. In using live bait cast it into the path of the fish letting the live bait do the work for you. Live baits know exactly what to do when a huge predator fish is staring at them.
We all have a tendency at times to over work our baits. Cobia are a tricky fish to catch so allow your baits to do their job.
Locating yourself higher in a tower on a boat it will help you to spot cobia more quickly without spooking them first.
Once you hook up with a cobia let him swim away with it briefly then set the hook hard and hang on. When boating a cobia get him into the fish box as quickly as possible and make sure you close the lid. Cobia have been known to have quite an attitude once on deck and break a rod or two, even demolishing entire tackle stations. Handle these powerful fish with caution.
Cobia ranks highly with some of the best eating fish out there. Their meat is a firm white meat thick enough to be grilled yet delicate enough to be lightly fried. Many fish eaters enjoy it smoked as well.