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Cobia Fishing: Tips and Tricks for the everyday fisherman

Tips and Tactics for Cobia Fishing

Early Spring Cobia Fishing Tips and Tactics And Why You Should Be Fishing for Cobia

Cobia Fishing in the spring is at peak when the water temp approaches 70 degrees and the cobia migration begins. Cobia can be found in the Gulf and Atlantic waters. Cobia are a highly sought after game fish with an excellent fighting ability and excellent table fare. Anglers from Texas to Massachusetts head out in search of these prized offshore fish. Cobia fish feed on fish, crabs, eels, and squid. They can be caught on any of these live baits as well as artificial cobia jigs and soft plastics.

cobia fishing cobia fish

How to find Cobia

Cobia fish live in water depths that range from 300 feet to 3 feet grass flats. When fishing inshore a good tactic is to drag a live pinfish on a bobber behind the boat for a stray cobia cruising the flats. In the spring when the water heats up cobia move inshore to spawn. An area where large concentrations of cobia populate is in the inlets of South Carolina. The flats of Tampa Bay to Keyton beach Florida will hold proper levels of Cobia as well. Cobia will often swim underneath Manta Rays and Bull Sharks in the spring run and are often located by sight fishing along the beaches. Many boats will have towers for spotting these sizeable brown fish. Cobia often looks similar to sharks in the water swimming close to the surface but lack the large dorsal fin. Another tactic for finding Cobia is checking the channel buoys when heading offshore. Many times they will sit under the large markers in the inlets. However, most cobia are caught offshore around an artificial structure and natural ledges. When bottom fishing they will follow smaller fish up towards the boat when being reeled in. Then a cobia jig or artificial soft plastic lure can be pitched at them for hook up.

Tactics for Catching Cobia

Cobia On Cobia Jigs

Catching Cobia on Cobia Jigs (Photo Credit: @tarponworld)

  1. Anchoring and Chumming- In an area with an excellent structure such an as an offshore reef, you can anchor up-current and chum to bring cobia into the back of the boat. One method that works well is free lining live or dead bait back into the chum slick to catch cobia.
  2. Sight Fishing For Cobia- The most popular way to fish for Cobia is by finding them cruising along the beaches or under Manta Rays. Once cobia are located, a live eel, cobia jig, or live baitfish will often yield in hookups when casting towards them. Have several rods ready in case they have friends with them because they usually travel in schools. When casting jigs, have several different colors available in case one works better than another. Some of my favorite colors are green and yellow, orange, black/brown, and pink. Check out the cobia jig selection at Hunting and Fishing Depot. Be sure to make long casts in order not to spook the fish and pull the jig across the Cobia’s face.
  3. Deep Jigging When Cobia Fishing- Deep dropping over structure using cobia jigs can be a successful tactic. A lot of times the cobia will follow smaller fish up from the depths and pop up right beside the boat. So always have a pitching rod ready. Drop the jig all the way to the bottom and bounce along the rocks, wrecks, and structure. Tip with a live bait, such as eel, or shiner, or even dead bait such as squid to increase bites. For deep jigging use the Bugeye style head of cobia Jig
  4. Trolling For Cobia- Slow trolling live bait with or without skirts around ledges and artificial reefs will produce cobia. Water temps around 70 degrees are ideal but cobia can be caught in a wide range of temps. Trolling plugs and artificial lures can produce cobia as well but it is not as effective as live bait. Troll hornbellys, pogies, eels, sardines, and other small baitfish for best results. The use of downriggers or planer boards is also effective when the cobia are deep.  Look for marks of suspended fish around structure.

    Combos for Cobia

    I personally like to use a 6000 to 8000 sized spinning outfit rigged with 40-80 lb test braid and 40-80 lb fluoro leader for pitching for cobia. The Canyon 7500 Spinning Reel is a great cobia fishing reel. I put it on a medium/heavy action rod. For deep dropping or trolling I will often use a conventional setup rigged with the same line pound test.

    Cobia Jumping while cobia fishing

    Nothing Like Hooking A Big Cobia (Photo Credit: @epic_boats)

    On your next offshore fishing trip look out for these delicious brown fish and don't be afraid to target them. Cobia Fish are very curious and will often show themselves right around the boat. Have that spinning combo ready at all times in order to pitch a bait before they disappear to the depths. We hope you will try fishing for cobia and find success like we have. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please leave a comment below or email us at Send us any photos of cobia caught to be featured on our social media. Maybe you have a tip that we should be telling people; we would love to hear it. Good luck and tight lines while cobia fishing!


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    Alex hopper - May 31, 2018

    Hi everyone,
    was great and nice to read ) i am from another part of the earth but always love to read and watch San Juan stuff )
    thanks for sharing the experience and the joy !
    all the best

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