If you have ever visited Destin in April there's one thing you are sure to see in the Gulf of Mexico and that's fishing boats. Why? Because this is the time of year when one of the gulf's most prized fish, cobia, are in peak season. Cobia aren't just any fish. And fishing for them isn't like any other type of fishing you'll ever do.
When the short, chilly days of winter start to give way to warmer temperatures of early spring, the circle of life in the ocean begins off our coastline. Smaller bait fish are swarming and with it bring migrations of other marine life including cobia. Cobia typically stay closer to the coast which is why you see fishing boats in closer to shore. Cobia can grow to be over 70 inches long and weigh as much as 170 pounds.
What makes cobia fishing different than nearly every other style of fishing is how anglers "hunt" for the fish. Typical offshore fishing styles are bottom fishing (snapper and grouper) and trolling (swordfish, tuna and wahoo). But cobia have to be spotted first. Cobia like to swim near the surface of the water, so they can be easy to spot. And spotting them first is how fishermen spend the majority of their time on the water. Nearly every boat fishing for cobia have a tower where a spotter will be stationed. Boats will slowly motor parallel to the coastline, scanning the horizon for cobia. Once spotted, boat captains spring into action. The boat will slow down and fisherman will then cast a line as close to the cobia as they can. And every good cobia fisherman knows the one thing cobia can't resist is live eels. Once they get one hooked, it's game-on!
Gulf to Table
Why all the fuss about cobia? Aside from the unique style of catching them, the taste and texture is simply unparalleled. Pretty much any seafood restaurant that's worth going to is going to have cobia on the menu in April. If you're in Destin, make sure you stop by one of our favorite seafood restaurants, Harbor Docks. Since 1979 they have been catching and cooking local seafood for family, friends and visitors. They only serve fresh, locally caught fish. And their cobia recipes are outstanding.
Photo Credit - Justin DeMass holds a 53 lb. and 56 lb. cobias caught on Captain Blake Hinely boat "She's the One". They took 3rd place in the 2017 Outcast Tournament. Charter info at www.ShesTheOneCharters.com.
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