Cobia fishing offers the best of both angling worlds: cobia are a strong, hard-fighting species ready to challenge the skill and resolve of any angler; and the fish’s firm white meat is packed full of flavor, offering a Keys seafood treat for any fishermen or woman lucky enough to bring a few fillets back to the dock.
Fortunately, many of you in town visiting the Florida Keys have arrived at the ideal time to head out and catch these exciting game fish. With the water clarity steadily improving on the reef we’re now able to locate and target big schools of cobia swimming just a few miles from land. This past week we’ve encountered packs of cobia with as many as 50 to 100 fish in each school, ranging in size from 10 to 60-pounds with numerous keepers in the mix.
For those of you out fishing the reef make sure to keep your eyes peeled. Cobia will come to the surface on sunny days and you should be able to spot the large packs of brown torpedoes when conditions are clear. Always keep a pitch rod and live bait handy while under throttle or anchored up on the deep reef or on the patches. You’ll want to be prepared if a cobia swims by the boat. Also don’t be surprised if a big cobia slams your bottom bait as well. We catch cobia in all water columns and it’s not uncommon to hook one while snapper fishing.
Speaking of snapper fishing, the patch reefs remain active with big mangrove snappers. This past week the 35 to 40-foot range was the most productive depth for tasty snappers as well as cero mackerel and kingfish. As we mentioned earlier, good numbers of cobia are also being caught on the patch reefs so it’s a not a bad idea to put a live bait out on the surface while bottom fishing. It’s a great way to multitask and catch a cobia or big kingfish while loading the box with mangroves.
As far as the sailfishing goes, I’m pleased to say that the bite is improving. We’re not catching mass quantities of fish but we are seeing them here and there out to 200 feet. Slow trolling live ballyhoo and large pilchards seemed to produce the best results the past couple of weeks, with most fish being caught between 110-130 feet. If you’re out slow trolling I suggest working different depths from the edge of the reef out to 200 feet until you find the most consistent range. In addition, big kingfish are still hanging around the edge of the reef, and there are a few dolphin and blackfin tuna out there as well ready to offer a nice reward for those who put their time in.
Your Best Bet for the Week Ahead:
Sign your Boat up for the Leon Shell Tournament—and Happy 40th Birthday Carolyn!
This week’s best bet is twofold. First, please register your boat for the 12th Annual Leon Shell Memorial Billfish Tournament held in Key Colony Beach, March 5-7. All proceeds benefit a worthy cause- Hospice and Visiting Nurse Association of the Florida Keys. To register your boat visit www.leonshelltournament.com, or stop by the Key Colony Beach Marina and pick up an entry form.
Second, I’d like to wish Carolyn from Sparky’s Landing a happy belated birthday (her birthday was actually Tuesday). You are definitely hotter than Jennifer Aniston!
Now is an excellent time to target big cobia out front.
Cobia will swim right into your chum slick while fishing on the reef. They are considered a delicacy among diehard seafood aficionados because of their thick, firm white meat.