Cobia…Lemon Fish, Ling, Sargeant Fish

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Cobia…Lemon Fish, Ling, Sargeant Fish

Anglers in the U.S. and around the world have their own names for different species of fish. However, while many different species having individual scientific names may belong to the same family, Cobia… scientific name (Rachycentron Canadum) are the only living species in their family (Rachycentridae) and have no close relatives. Highly migratory and living at least 10 years Cobia sometimes reach 15 years of age.

They are open-water fish and found almost worldwide in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate waters. Orienting themselves around buoys, pilings, markers, sea turtles, manatees or almost any floating object they appear attracted to noise. Ranging from inshore bays, waterways, estuaries to open seas and sometimes spotted in waters 4,000 feet deep. Their flat heads, protruding lower jaw, cylindrical brown bodies, faint dark lateral stripe and a whitish belly make them easily identifiable. Resembling a shark when viewed from above, they actually look similar to a small brown torpedo.

A Research Laboratory in Mississippi tagged and released over 10,000 Cobia to study their migratory habits. Results indicate they are highly migratory, often traveling hundreds of miles in short periods. The longest travel distance recorded was 1,300 nautical miles. A fish tagged off the Chandeleur Islands near Louisiana was recaptured 2 ½ years later off South Carolina. Two other Cobia’s traveled more than 1,200 miles. One tagged off Pensacola Beach, Florida then recaptured off South Carolina. The other tagged off Louisiana and recaptured 238 days later in Daytona Beach, Florida. One record holding sprinter tagged at Port Canaveral, Florida traveled 700 miles arriving in Aplachee Bay, Florida in only 46 days. This speedster averaged more than 15 miles a day.

Not all Cobia migrate. Verified by more research indicates some tagged in the northern Gulf of Mexico elected to stay put during the colder months but at depths to 100 feet. Others img_5057seem content stay in certain areas year round, often seeking winter warmth near power plants.

Aggressive opportunistic feeders, Cobia chase food from the surface to the bottom eating just about anything. However, in a study conducted at Chesapeake Bay researchers examining the stomachs of 78 Cobia they found 28 different species of animals. Swimming crabs were by far number one. This leads us to the conclusion while eating other things Cobia probably prefer swimming crabs as their first choice, particularly in Chesapeake Bay.

Because of their meat quality and the fact, they possess a tremendous growth rate Cobia often gain up to 13 lbs per year. This makes them an ideal species for aquaculture. Although commercial production has only recently begun in the west, it has a long history in Asia and especially Taiwan and Vietnam.

Now we know what a Cobia is and a little more about them. So, how do we catch them? The IGFA-All-Tackle world record Cobia weighed 135 lbs. 9 oz. caught on July 9, 1985 by Robert Goulding in Shark Bay, Australia. The Florida State Record is 103 lbs 12 ounces.

Indisputably a rough and ready fighter, when hooked Cobia considered by some to be one terrific sport-fish also offers excellent eating. Favorite spots are channels, deep holes in bays and the water around floating and stationary objects like buoys, pilings, and wrecks. Inshore buoys, beacons and markers are excellent places to catch cobia and an occasional Tripletail.

Unquestionably, when Cobia fishing what is working this time may not work the next. Therefore, some diversity is often the key to your success. Since Cobia will strike a variety of baits, in all shapes and sizes not sticking with one lure, bait or tactic increases, your hook-up percentages From studies, we know they prefer eating crabs, eels, shrimp and small fishes. Therefore, when using natural baits take an assortment, if using artificial lures try to match the natural forage. Nevertheless, when presented properly a hungry fish will strike almost anything tossed in its direction

You can catch Cobia year round in Florida but probably the easiest time is during the November through February migratory runs up the coast. During cold months and ranging in size from small to 85 lbs, they stack up at many power plants’ warm water discharges. Often catching a ride with other sea creatures you will see them trailing along with large rays, sea turtles, and manatees waiting for an easy meal scattered by the large creatures.

Sight fishing these guy’s makes for some very exciting time whether around warm water outflows or markers, boats, barges, floating debris, buoys, or anything that holds bait and provides shade and cover. When sight fishing, you need good polarized sunglasses like and a medium to heavy spinning combo spooled with 20-30 lb. Power Pro. These fish can wreak serious havoc on light tackle. Once located, a free lined crab, greenback, thread fin, pin fish or an artificial lure fish cast in front of them usually result in a hookup.

Another method is using a heavy jig in the place of bait. Drop it to the bottom and briskly work it in a jerking upward fashion using a stiff rod while someone maneuvers the boat at idle speed around structure.

Landing a Cobia usually requires more than a one attempt; inevitably, you will get it close to the boat only to watch it sprint away. So whenever possible use a landing net or gaff. In addition, remembering this safety tip regarding a green fish. The term “green fish” means one that is not tired and still fighting. Extremely powerful, these fish will thrash violently about often causing damage to your boat, or serious injury you or your passengers. A Cobia has 8 to 10 dangerously sharp spines located in front of the dorsal fin. At all, cost, avoid these spike-like projections when landing, handling or unhooking a Cobia. You may not see them at first because of the fish’s ability to retract them inconspicuously below the skin. Then when threatened or agitated, these dorsal spines defensively stand erect, ready to cut and gouge anything in their path. Many anglers found this out the hard way.

Prized catches in many ways, Cobia offer the excitement of a hard fought battle and a wonderful texture and taste. With its firm white flesh, it is excellent baked or cooked on the grille. When smoked it makes one of the best fish spreads you will ever eat.

If you have never fished for Cobia, you are missing some real rod bending action, fishing excitement and a great meal. Try it you will not be disappointed.

This article is owned by Capt. Woody Gore and is copyright protected. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by Capt. Gore. wgore@ix.netcom.com