Chaos Theory Catches Cobia

Steve Herbison and Doug Melzig of Under Armor hold up a pair of cobia caught off Gulf Coast oil rigs.From the Outer Banks of North Carolina where the Gulf Stream lightly kisses the coast to the satellite rigs of the Gulf Coast oil fields, cobia provide both an incredibly fun fishing experience and some of the tastiest seafood ever to grace an angler's plate. That's why cobia are one of our favorite fish.

The other reason is we have some of the best cobia fishing anywhere in the world close to our store. Whether you're headed out to local waters or hooking up the rig and heading to one of the many other hot spots along the coast, we can help you get set up with the right gear to tackle cobia.

Cobia, also known as lings or lemonfish, are one of the most bizarre fish in an ocean full of strange creatures. More shark like and even prehistoric in appearance, cobia are indeed fish and have the backbone to prove it when hooked up.

They also fillet up into some of the best white meat fish you have ever tasted. We've got our favorite recipes we'd be glad to share. Like many palate-pleasers, about the only way to ruin cobia is to cook it too long.

Of course, like any fish, you have to catch a cobia before you can cook it! Here are some tips:

  • Fish where the fish are. This advice might seem too simple to be of any help, but cobia definitely have a preference as to where they like to hang out. They don't like to be too deep except when they aggregate in open water to spawn and we've found that the best place to look is where cobia can find food. That includes buoys, satellite oil rigs and small oil platforms, reefs and wrecks, as well as along the beach, shallow banks, estuaries and harbors where bait is concentrated.
  • Enhance your vision. Since sight fishing for cobia chasing bait in the shallows can be an excellent way to locate lings, high quality polarized glasses are a must and we have a wide selection to match both your head structure and your style sense. Elevation is invaluable for sight fishing cobia, so a flying bridge or even a small tower can make a big difference. At the very least have someone hop on the rail of the skiff and hold onto the center console while scanning for cobia. Look for other signs such as diving birds, breaking bait and a dark riffle on the water that indicates a bait school.
  • Big, bright bucktail jigs are the basis of any cobia chaser's arsenal.Go big and bright. Cobia are aggressive feeders when located, so the most important aspect of a lure or bait is that it is both large and visible. Chartreuse, orange, green and red bucktail jigs are great choices and are not hurt by adding an equally garish and large curly tail or swimbait soft plastic trailer. Adapt the weight of the jig to the fishing conditions. You'll want a heavier head when dropping 100-plus-feet down along the edge of a rig or if you are adding a bait like a pogy. We have a wide selection and can set you up with the lure choices for where you plan to fish. If you need a new rod and reel to handle cobia, and they are a handful, we've got the perfect setup.
  • Create a commotion. Cobia are very successful scavengers. Much like a pack of hyenas moving in after the lions, cobia like to take advantage of the confusion caused by the attack of other predator fish. Don't make one cast or drop and move on. Throw the lure multiple times to a bait school or piece of structure and use a pumping motion on the retrieve to cause as much flash and water movement as possible. Don't be surprised when a cobia finally follows a lure to the boat or beach or you simply see one swimming busily on the surface nearby.
  • Be ready to take advantage. Once you have a cobia's attention, you better be ready to put a lure in the fish's vicinity as quickly as possible. If you're not quick enough and the fish drops out, work twice as hard with the lure. When you do get bit, everyone else fishing needs to wind up rapidly and be ready to cast again. That is if they haven't already got a bite, too. If you think a lure can get a cobia interested, the water-blasting thrash of one of their comrades in battle flips a switch that attracts every ling in the zip code. All you have to do is put a lure in front of the fish and it disappears in a single slurp. If you can keep your cool. Good luck!