How to Catch Cobia in Florida

How to Catch Cobia in Florida

Cobia is a highly-rated sport fish and is delicious to eat. It is a flavorful, firm, and pleasant fish that many people compare to the yellowtail or Kingfish in flavor. Cobia is considered a premium fish commercially because it is not too bony. You can filet it into steaks or loins and sometimes cutlets. Although cobia can be enjoyed as a tasty fish, anglers love the rodeo-like fighting that it offers. You get the best of both sport and food when you target cobia. Here we will discuss how to catch Cobia in Florida.

Catching Cobia in Florida 

The largest cobia can reach six feet in length and weigh at least 100 pounds. Cobia is a deepwater fish that can be found on fishing charters offering deep-sea fishing. Cobia prefers to hunt on the border of shallow and deep waters, particularly if there are shelves or other structures. Cobia can be caught anywhere there are bait fish.

Cobia is a popular sight fishing target. The singles can be spotted from the deck. You can then cast onto them. They will grab a jig, or live bait and then get ready for a heck of a fight!

They eat shrimp, crabs, and small fish and will follow sharks to pick up any leftovers from shark feedings.

Where to Catch Cobia

From Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico, cobia can be found all the way down to the Eastern seaboard. One of the best spots to fish for cobia in Florida is near St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Gulf.

It is crucial to learn about the behavior when targeting cobia when you fish for them around Florida. Cobia is a migratory species. Local populations migrate from the Northern Gulf to the Southern Gulf, then back again. The Northern Gulf waters have the highest concentration of cobia, with the majority being found from March through October. The Southern Gulf waters have the highest concentration of cobia, with the largest numbers being found between October or November and March or early April.

The best Cobia season is in Florida when the fish are in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, usually March through October, and sometimes into November. You can fish Cobia all year if you plan on fishing longer hours or for extended periods of time. 

If you’re fishing for Cobia in Florida, then go Inshore and along shallow water sandbars – less than 15 feet. Cobia prefers to remain in deeper water during the summer months when shallower water is warmer.

You can find cobia in the Gulf’s southernmost waters during the fall, winter, and early spring months. Cobia like water that is 70 degrees F or higher. Use a fish finder that can tell you the water temperature when you are looking to catch Cobia in Florida.

What to Use as a Bait for Cobia

What is the best bait to use for cobia? This isn’t a surprising question, considering the attraction cobia holds for anglers. Pinfish are active baitfish that display frantic behavior in the presence of cobia. A struggling pinfish is what excites the predatory instincts in cobia. Another popular question is “What do cobia eat?” Cobia eats many different things, including shrimp, crabs, small fish, shads, and even eels. Cobia can be found in all depths of the ocean, including very deep.

Live baits and cut baits are both options. You can use pinfish for both live and cut baits. Spanish sardines, cigar minnows (or ribbon fish), and menhaden are all good options for baiting cobia. Cobia will follow sharks, eating the remnants after they strike. Soft plastics can also be used to target cobia. Look for lures with a longer tail that mimic shad. Soft plastics with streamers are the best bait for cobia.

Fishing Techniques to Hook Cobia 

Casting And Retrieving – is a good technique for live bait or cut bait. You simply toss your bait out and then retrieve it using short strokes. Cobia will sense the vibration and may investigate. You will feel the bait run and feel a sharp thump. You must set your hook hard with cobia. Once you feel the thump, you will instantly know if you succeeded.

Sight Fishing – When sight fishing cobia, you can use live bait, cut bait, jigs, and lures. After you have spotted the fish, toss your line. Let the bait drop. The fish will also drop. Hold the line gently with your finger towards the rod by opening the bale. The line will begin to fall off the reel once the cobia has taken the bait. Flip the bale and place the hook. To really set the hook, you should set it twice or three times. You only need to set the hook once for most fish. You can set the hook several times with cobia.

Florida Cobia Regulations

Two major changes are made to the Cobia regulations in 2022.

  • July 2022 – The legal cobia size will increase. They must reach 36 inches from the forks
  • A vessel can only capture two cobias per hour. In the past, this was six. However, in July 2022 the regulation changed to allow for two cobias per boat per day.

Cobia is a great sport fish. They are fast, smart, and strong. Some anglers prefer to target cobia swimming with sharks. Fishing around structures such as oil rigs is a good tip to catch cobia in deeper water. They will hang around oil rigs, eating the bait fish.

For the best opportunity to catch cobia in Florida contact the Salty Knots Fishing Charter. Salty Knots Capt Every Hughes has been catching Cobia for years and knows exactly how to put a monster Cobia in the boat! Contact Salty Knots today to book a fishing trip of a lifetime.