By Capt. Gus Cane
Coastal anglers eagerly look forward to spring because it means cobia will be on the move. Known also as ling, lemon fish or crab-crunchers, cobia offer addictive sight-fishing action and the chance at scrumptious, white flaky filets.
Cobia are very powerful with broad tails and stout bodies. Tackle must be geared accordingly. Medium-heavy spinning outfits are the favorite, matched with reels loaded with 30-pound test line or heavier. Fluorocarbon leaders up to 50-pound test will prevent chafing during the battle.
Fake offerings include heavy bright bucktail jigs and soft-plastic eels and swimbaits rigged with jig heads. The top natural baits are live pinfish, mullet, eels, and catfish, with the spines clipped for safety.
Cobia typically swim along the beaches and troughs, often trailing behind big stingrays or sea turtles. They may be solo, in pairs, or small pods. Water clarity is critical in spotting the movement, and polarized sunglasses to cut the glare are essential gear. Being elevated also offers an advantage since the increased angle allows spotters to peer into the water. Boats rigged with towers or footrests atop the console aid in this endeavor. Gentle quarterly breezes blowing towards the beach helps nudge the fish in close where they can be easily spotted.
Cobia fishing is definitely a team effort. The helmsman keeps a steady course while anglers keep their eyes peeled for their quarry. When a fish is spotted, the designated caster tosses a lure at the lead fish. Lures are typically used first, followed by live bait if there are multiple refusals. Hooked fish will jump, roll, and fight hard. They fight even harder close or in the boat, so the gaff man has to be accurate and nimble at swinging the prize into the fish box before something or someone is damaged.
With a seaworthy design to easily run through passes or inlets and cruise comfortably along the beach hunting cobia, Sea Chaser’s new 30 and 35 HFC Bluewater Series center consoles are ideal cobia boats. Boasting angler-friendly layouts and features, including large fish boxes and rod storage, these models should be on the shortlist of any serious ling enthusiast.