Cobia fishing, being on ocean brings solace

cdad@hiltonheadisland.netMay 30, 2012 

"I wonder why Collins hasn't written about cobia?"

Yeah, I have gotten that question a lot lately, but up until the past few days, I hadn't gone cobia fishing at all. It wasn't that I didn't want to go -- because I was dying to give it a shot -- but soon after my trip South, my wife, Karen, came down with viral meningitis. So I have spent most of my days sitting by her bedside at the hospital. I will admit that every once in a while I found myself looking out her window, wishing I was out on the water -- but, as we all know, family comes first.

Time has escaped me, but I think it was Thursday when Mike "Everyone Drives a Used Car" Cody asked me to go try for a brownie, (aka cobia). Though I wanted to back out of the trip, Karen knew I needed a break and, as sick as she was, she told me to go.

Now that's a fisherman's wife.

I think that after all these years together she knows I am a better person after I have a day on the water. It just calms me like nothing else out there. For me, there isn't a drink or a pill made that can make a bad day better than the sound of the ocean slapping on the hull of a boat. I will admit I felt guilty leaving my bride, but after she insisted, I hopped a 33-foot cat boat that belongs to Mike's friend, Jim Turner.

It had been a year since I had cobia fished so I had to get back into the routine. Where is the bait? Do I have the right tackle? Did I remember the chum bags? Switching over to targeting cobia instead of wahoo requires preparation, and all it takes is forgetting one ingredient to waste an entire day. The wind was blowing out of the north, and the menhaden were nowhere to be found. After searching for a while we finally made a run down the beach on Hilton Head Island and found the bait in the waves halfway down the island. After three throws, we had all the bait we could use and headed to Port Royal Sound.

Anchoring up in the middle of a small fleet of cobia seekers, I chummed my little heart out. The big moon tides earlier in the week washed so much marsh grass into the sound it looked like huge, brown mats floating around. As it passed by us, I was constantly cleaning rigs tangled in the stuff. We fished the entire tide but encountered nothing other than sharks. At high water I made the call to pick up the anchor and go looking for cobia swimming on the surface.

We hadn't gone far when there he was. He swam right up to the boat. Using one live menhaden on a "pitch rod," the idea was to get the bait a few feet in front of the fish, but he dove. In the next few minutes, we saw three more but ended the day with a big fat goose egg.

Just seeing those fish, though, unleashed a dormant "cobia fever" in me and I couldn't wait to go again.

I was sitting in the hospital when Dr. Rob Trotter called. His son Taylor and Taylor's girlfriend Ashley were in town and wanted to go cobia fishing. Once again Karen said, "Go!" Maybe I was getting a bit too antsy for her, but bless her heart, she knew it was either I sit next to her bed all day and drive her crazy or I get a few hours of relaxation. So I went.

This time the wind was howling, but after a bit of creative searching, we got bait. I don't know what it is about having a woman on-board but I swear they're fish whisperers. This time I decided to go to one of my old stomping grounds and using live menhaden, it was shark after shark just like the last trip. It wasn't until Rob told me he had some squid that I tried a technique I learned fishing for swordfish. I grabbed the biggest squid and rigged it swordfish style and pitched it out behind the boat.

It wasn't two minutes later when the rod bent double and that stinky old squid did what live bait after live bait couldn't.

We hooked a cobia.

It was the perfect sized fish. After few minutes of fighting, into the boat it came. I really didn't want to kill a big female, so this male was just right.

Being the sportsman he is, Rob had his one fish so we went home. All I can say is, it has been one heck of a week for me and, once again, the great outdoors was my savior.

God does not subtract from the allotted span of a man's life the hours spent in fishing. Columnist Collins Doughtie, a graphic designer by trade and fishing guide by choice, sure hopes that's true.

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