The fish are a month behind schedule but finally showed up in force.
By Willie Howard (Southeast Region)
After what has been a hit or miss winter for Palm Beach County's offshore anglers, cobia arrived j ust before Easter in the waters off Jupiter.
"Its's been excellent. We've been catching them every trip," said Ryan Nagel, captain of the Jupiter-based Blue Heron II drift boat.
On March 24, anglers on the Black Dog drift boat, fishing more than 3 miles off-shore in federal waters, arrived at Seasport Marina in Jupiter with eight cobia up to 40 pounds.
Black Dog captain Bill Taylor said the cobia were following sharks in 180 to 200 feet off Jupiter Inlet. Dead sardines drifted on single 6/0 hook with 50-pound test fluorocarbon leader and 2-ounce egg sinkers above the leader were catching the cobia.
Cleaning the fish at the marina, Taylor found crabs inside the stomachs of several cobia. He said one of his clients caught cobia during the late March run on a Berkley Gulp! crab.
Although most of the cobia were hitting baits near the bottom, the ocean was full of life in the 180 to 220 feet off Jupiter, Taylor said.
"If you look at the machine, from 20 feet to the bottom there's just this swirl of activity," Taylor said.
Jupiter drift boat captains say bull sharks are chasing banded rudderfish (also known as ambereens). Cobia, they say, are following the bul sharks.
"You've got to bring them in quick," said Charlie Stuve of Native Guide Fishing Charters in Jupiter, who was leading clients to to cobia by drifting dead sardines in 100 to 200 off Jupiter.
Some angerls are using 30 pound class or heavier rods to bring in the cobia fast enough to beat the bull sharks. Sometimes, the sharks scored a fresh cobia dinner. An angler on the Country Club drift boat caught cobia on Diamond jigs on the day before Easter, Capt. Jim Barton said, noting that he found cobia in 85 to 110 feet north of Jupiter Inlet and farther north up to the Hobe Sound Loran Tower.
"It was the best I've ever seen," Barton said. Barton's customers were landing cobia from 20 to 25 pounds and larger. All of them well over the 33 inch minimum size (fork length).
Anglers should be careful to obey state regulations for cobia in state waters -- one per person per day, 33-inch minimum fork length and six per boat limit.
Those fishing beyond 3 miles off Florida's East Coast are allowed two cobia per angler (33 inch fork length minimum size) because of the federal regulations. Boats fishing in federal waters should not stop in state waters while returning to port with more than six cobia or more than one per person.
When cleaning cobia, Taylor removes the skin and cuts away as much of the red meat as possible. Before grilling, Taylor like to marinate cobia steaks in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juide, dry mustard, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
This article was provided by Florida Fishing Weekly