Stokes: Cobia sightings limited so far this season

rodcrafter@islc.netApril 27, 2014 

Florida Daily Life

Fishermen and pier walkers are silhouetted by the sun featuring a circular halo, Tuesday Nov. 12, 2013 at the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily News, Nick Tomecek)

NICK TOMECEK — File -- The Associated Press

As of this writing, the cobia in local waters are few and far between -- few in numbers and between almost and not quite. The migration routes of outer banks and buoys have shown a few sightings, but as yet only two hook-ups have been reported.

Jim Solbuts and wife Toni were drifting the mouth of the Combahee when Toni hooked into what was later described as a huge something. Trolling the drops with long rods and light tackle, the couple hoped to find a few spottail for dinner. The hook-up tore the rod from Toni's hands and neither was ready for what came next. When their shallow draft whaler began to move against the current, Jim took over and fought the fish until the line snapped. Never seeing what was at the other end, Jim could only guess that it was either a huge cobia or one of the many large stingrays they sighted cruising the area earlier.

A trio of anglers also hooked into a fight at the cobia hole last Tuesday. Hoping to catch a few sharks, the group did not expect to lose a rod and reel, but also saw the thief that caught them unaware.

As it was explained: "We set out a chum line and waited. The strike came just minutes later and the Penn Combo shot off the gunnel into the water before anyone could grab it. A large cobia was seen cruising around the boat later and the rod's tip would bob to the surface when it passed. We tried to snag it with another rod, but the line kept breaking."

The trio asked to remain anonymous as they are not prepared to defend another fish tale this early in the season.


Offshore Action

Closer activity has resulted in more catches. From the wrecks to the reefs, a variety of bottom fish have taken the hook in waters holding at 50 to 75 feet. Bottom-fishing these waters has produced black fish, porgy, triggerfish, flounder, grunt, whiting, trout, bass and sheepshead.

Trolling has not been up to par, producing short strikes of dolphin, wahoo and tuna. However, the shark population is alive and well, so keep plenty of bait, sharp hooks and stout leaders on hand.

Inshore Action

Better fishing weather has brought out the best of both worlds. Anglers and fish are once again in harmony.

Some outstanding catches of spottail bass have shown from the larger creeks and points.

Flounder are within striking distance from mud flats along tapered shallow banks. Anglers in search of these flatfish have a great opportunity if trolling a bottom rig tipped with fresh shrimp or mud minnows.

Trout continue to be elusive, but once located, limits are taken quickly. Grass batches and oyster clusters separate from the main bank are holding good concentrations. It's a matter of finding the right ones to fish.

Sheepshead are running the charts of size and quantity. This convict fish is stealing baits of fiddler, oyster, mussel and clam strips as fast as they are dropped. Areas holding old wood pilings and rocks seem to be attracting the larger fish, while bridge and pier areas have the best quantities. Light sinkers, short shank hooks and quick reflexes are the call of the day.


While sitting at the dock, a friend remarked about two boys who had just passed with their pants practically hanging around their knees. My friend stated it was a disgrace and wanted to know if I agreed with his observation. I told him it was a fashion statement, and everyone went through such times during their youth. To that, he replied "It doesn't state anything to me; It just means that their diapers are full."

TACKLE TIP: Line Twist

Whenever you add new line to spinning reels, you can prevent line twists. Simply remove the spool from your reel and soak it under warm water for a few minutes after loading. This will remove the memory adopted on the new spool to that of your reel spool. You will be rewarded with less twist and longer casts as well a fewer knots and less cut outs.

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