March Madness Is Upon Us – Cobia Season is Here
As cold fronts calm down and spring sets in we all know it’s time to chase the elusive Cobia. January passed with fish and Manta Rays popping up anywhere from Sebastian up to 20 miles North of the port. Here are some tips to help you find them and have a successful day.
Location, Location, Location
The Tug Wreck located about 7 miles off the beach and 20 miles South East of the Port is sort of a South boundary for me and most of the time in early season a starting point. We have rolled up on this wreck and found 20 Cobia coming up and down in the water column and other times a dozen Rays circling. Be ready to cast as soon as you get there and don’t come up on it to quick. Work your way North from there, generally around 60 foot of water, you will find what I call “The Bowl” (on any chart you will see how the 60 foot depth line forms a curve inshore with the closest point being at Patrick AFB). This is a big area but finding birds and bait pods should be your agenda, free swimmers (one to five fish) cruising on top are frequent however; bait pods should be jigged to see if any fish are holding on them. My North boundary to Fishing South would be the Brevard Reef. Every year huge current upwellings seem to form in this area and the Rays cannot get enough of it. Pick your casts wisely and hopefully it will work out.
Ok so you’ve decided to “Take a Left Turn” and go North! I never go North without working R-4 and R-2, which are two buoys that mark the Southern Boundary of the shoal shooting off Cape Canaveral. From there as you look at your plotter, you will see The Bull and Hetzel shoal. The upwelling effect that these areas produce is a haven for Manta Rays due to increased nutrients in the water. Just North of there is Chris Benson Reef and I would say my North boundary for fishing is the Manacamp Wreck. All these areas could be your starting point for the day and the key to Cobia fishing is taking it easy and scanning the water around you for anything that looks out of place.
Finally lets talk tackle and tactics. Our gear consists of 30lb spinning rods loaded with spectra fiber line, which enables a good hook set, leaders are between 50lb and 60lb Fluorocarbon. Jigs of choice are in the 8/0 hook range and fairly heavy, we use scented tails to entice the picky eaters. We always acquire live bait by either cast net or sabiki rigs and have some rods set up to “pitch” a livie (8/0 Circle Hook) when a fish wont touch a jig. On Rays we try to roll the jig off the back without hitting the ray, boat position is the key and you need to provide the angler the best hook set. Approaching a Ray from behind will cause slack line for the Angler and he or she may not even feel the bite. Approaching them from the side and slightly forward enables the Angler to use the boats momentum for increased feel and coming tight on the fish. Wrecks should be jigged with one Angler dropping a piece of squid or other bottom bait to try to hook up on a bottom dweller to make a commotion and possibly bring up the 20 or so Cobia hanging out down there. Bait pods can be sabikied to offer the same result.
I believe the main keys to Cobia fishing are, location, 68-degree water temp, stick to your plan, take it slow and enjoy the day. Try to be courteous to others that have spent the time and money to fish that Ray 90 feet off your bow and forgive those that follow no code of ethics. We have found that fishing outside of a group of boats fishing the same five Rays produces free swimmers displaced by the commotion.
As always feel free to contact me with any questions and if I’m not fishing, I am available anytime to meet you at Bluepoints to provide you some pointers on gear and locations. Contact me via my website at BrassyHooker.com or ask one of the Bluepoints Marina Staff membersto hunt me down.
Tight Lines on the Brown Fish!!
Capt Brad Spalding
Brassy Hooker Sport Fishing