Cobias. Hold on to your hats, gaffs, rods and reels. The weather has been wild and wooly this past week and so has the fishing. We’ve got a classic Crystal Coast cobia catch report to get out to you.
June is for Cobias
June is the month where the cobias fishing along the Crystal Coast is best. Cobias are migrating up the coast line this time of year towards Virginia and Maryland. They will move along our shorelines and into the sounds and backwaters in great numbers. It is quite common to see cobia traveling in pairs (believed to be mates) or in schools.
There are two basic ways to catch cobias. First is to sight cast to them. As the boats traverse the inlets and inshore beaches captain, mate and angler watch for these traveling fish that swim just under the surface of the water. Another great hang out for cobias is around inlet sea buoys. Beaufort Inlet and Barden’s Inlet out at Cape Lookout are two prime spots along the Crystal Coast.
How hot can the cobia action be? Listen to the description of a recent charter with Down East Guide Service and Captain George Beckwith.
“I got the anchor set, lines out and one of my guys was up in the tower taking in the sights. I’m glad he was. When he commented on the 3 sharks swimming by the boat…..he was actually describing a pack of 3 cobia. I scrambled up the tower. Everything went perfect. All my guys knew that I was screaming with enthusiasm and not at them.
“Crank the engine! Crank in those rods! Throw off the buoy! Crank, crank, crank, HOLD ON”.
I fired her up and spun her around in the direction that the fish were cruising.
Amazingly, we got no lines tangled or in the prop, the fish popped up right in front of us and I fired off the black bucktail that Captain Charles Brown gave me last year. God Bless him. The biggest of the 3 sailed on that bucktail. “
Pretty exciting action wouldn’t you say? Although the action doesn’t stay like that all day long you can rest assured you’ll get several stabs at it just like how the Captain described. Captain George Beckwith of Down East Guide Service is someone I have known and fished with for over 25 years. He has perfected the art of spotting and sight casting to cobia in the Crystal Coast area.
If you’re ever up in the Outer Banks (where the cobia will be when they leave here) then I would highly encourage you to contact Captain Rick Caton with Custom Sound Charters. He’s another premiere guide and charter captain I have known and fished with for decades.
Average size for cobia will be in the 20 to 30 pound range. But it is not unusual to catch them twice that size or even larger. Cobias look like a cross between a shark and a remora. In fact remoras are their closest relative. Juvenile cobias have a distinctive whitish stripe along the side of their dark brown body. The stripe becomes less and less pronounced as they mature.
Cobias are all muscle with not much more than a backbone for a skeleton. Both muscle and backbone equals a strong fish that gives a great fight. It also means a white meat fish that is extremely good to eat without having to worry about little fish bones.
If cobias aren’t on the surface then they are hanging around on the bottom. In fact one of the nicknames for cobia is “crab eater” due to their steady diet of crabs and other crustaceans. Bottom fishing use to be the only way folks fished for cobia around the Crystal Coast. Sight casting for them is a relatively new phenomenon for here.
One of the key elements to bottom fishing for cobia is water depth. Find water that is at least 20 feet deep and fish it. Finding water that deep is not as simple as it may seem. The majority of the water 20 feet deep is in the ICW and you can’t anchor up their!
Fishing Report: The Usual Places!
Some traditionally productive cobia hot spots include behind the Hampton Inn in Morehead City. Off of The backside of Beaufort Inlet. Wade Shores and around the rock jetty both locations are behind Shackleford Banks. Off the west end of Harker’s Island in the thoroughfare near the bridge. The backside of Barden’s Inlet at Cape Lookout. All of these areas have produced cobia year in and year out.
Are the fish still there? Are the cobias still biting? It certainly is according to Captain Joe Shute.
“The cobia fishing is still happening right now and should be still going on for the next week or two,” says Captain Joe. For more information contact Joe at Cape Lookout Fly Shop in Atlantic Beach.
The weather effects fishing on a daily basis and on a seasonal basis. We had a cool early spring and so far a cool summer. Beach water temperatures haven’t even hit 80’s yet. As long as these conditions stay or rather as long as the hot summertime conditions stay away then the fishing report for cobias should remain strong on into July.
The type of rig used when bottom fishing for cobias along the Crystal Coast is a basic drum rig. The bait of choice is menhaden. It is believed that one reason why menhaden works so well is that they attract crabs to the bait due to their stinky, oily nature. One of the first methods I learned for catching cobias was rigging a live blue crab.
Bottom fishing for cobias can be a lot of fun. Once you anchor your boat and get baits in the water you can kick back and relax for a while. Believe it or not, sometimes that’s the most difficult part for a fisherman. But be prepared. An extended time of nothing is usually proceeded by flashes of fantastic fish fighting fun!
Are you ready to make the move and relocate to the Crystal Coast? Contact Margaret Hitchcock with Hitchcock Realty today to start your property search. Margaret is an experienced Realtor well seasoned in helping folks make the transition to the North Carolina coast. Call her today at (252) 269-2893