Cobia in the Shallows
Spring offers some of the best fishing of the year for shallow water cobia. I hunt these brown bruisers along the west central Florida coast from Crystal River down to Tarpon Springs every April. It's a great fishery that's not well known and keeps me out of the frenzy of anglers looking for redfish schools and snook that are more popular species in the Spring.
What I'm really looking for are big Southern Stingrays that move up onto the turtle paths grass flats once the sea temps reach about 75 degrees consistently. Those larger stingrays disturb or flush a lot of crabs and shrimp out of the sea grass as they pass over them. That's when the hitchhiking cobes, snatch up an easy meal by simply tagging along. So in essence I'm stalking big stingrays in depths from 2' to 5' and the cobia are just a by-product of the stingray's presence.
My favorites as far as lures go... varies on conditions. But a standard "go-to" bait for me is a 1/4 or 3/8 buck tail jig (pink/white) with a 3" to 4" plastic trailer (paddle tail). What's important is that you can accomplish a long cast accurately that can get down near the stingray quickly before they feel the presence of the boat. This is why I drift & push pole for shallow cobia so that I can close the gap and make the perfect cast.
But, I've caught shallow water cobia on a variety of Mirrolures, spoons and eel/worm profile soft baits too! Don't be afraid to experiment... but the hooks better be solid and robust because the cobes can range from 10 to 30 pounds on average.
So if you are looking for a new Springtime fishery, try sampling the shallow water cobia fishing along the west coast of Florida. There are a number of guides that specialize in this unique fishery from Pasco County on north to Citrus County. I guarantee you'll be a big fan!
April 24th 2019