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Cobia (Rachycentron canadum)
- Size 10 to 30lbs
- Food Value Good
- Game Qualities Good
- Habitats Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore, Reef, Wreck
Cobia are very popular game fish, present in great numbers throughout the Florida coastline. Strong and hard-fighting, they are prone to long and powerful runs with occasional aerials and are infamous for keeping up the battle even after being boated. These fish don't give up until they've lost every ounce of energy.
Cobia inhabit both inshore waters (bays, mangroves and inlets) and pelagic seas (near the surface, but also around pilings, buoys, wrecks and other structures). They're mostly solitary swimmers caught in small numbers, but schools can sometimes be found around Florida.
Cobia mature quickly (at 2-3 years) and their life expectancy is moderate (up to 15 years). The average adult will be between 10 and 30lbs, but larger sized catches in the 50-80lbs range are not unheard of.
The bigger, the better, right? Caught aboard Grouper Trooper Fishing Charters in Pensacola, FL
When & Where
These fish can be found all over the world in warm-temperate waters. The western Atlantic sees them as north as Canada and as south as Argentina, including the Gulf and the Carribean Sea. Eastern Atlantic waters host them from Morocco up north down to South Africa, and the Indo-West Pacific is abundant as well, with stocks up to Japan and down to Australia. Eastern Pacific waters are the only ones where they can't be found.
A rule of thumb is that Cobia migrate to lower latitudes and offshore to find warmer waters during fall and winter months. The Keys are a good area to target them year-round, especially at this time (December through April). Spring and summer see them moving up north and inshore off Florida along both the Atlantic (reaching South and North Carolina and Chesapeake Bay by May) and Gulf coasts (reaching Destin by April).
How to catch
Cobia are excellent fish to practice your light tackle skills on. When migrating, they swim close to the surface and sight casting will be the name of the game. At other times, trolling, bottom fishing or jigging will do the trick.
As for bait, juvenile blue crabs and live eels (Cobia's favorites), catfish (with barbs removed), grunts (great for the sound they produce), blue runners or pinfish will be your best bet. If going with artificials, plastic eels or crabs are recommended, but colorful jigs will be gladly eaten, too. Flies have been shown to work as well.
If casting, the bait should land close to the fish, not in front or behind it, but past its nose. Then it should be promptly run by the head, as Cobia will instinctively grab anything that looks like an easy meal. Once hooked, allow the fish to make its first run and start reeling only after it's finished. As mentioned before, once boated, either bash it on the head or try to get it in the cooler as soon as possible, as it might cause damage to the equipment or hurt you. They are to be taken seriously.
This lady angler won the battle. Can you? Find out in Stuart, FL
Some Cobia are caught over grass flats, off piers and sandy beaches, so a boat isn't necessary if the waters are warm enough. However, most fish will be spotted around floating objects such as buoys or channel markers, or artificial reefs, ledges and wrecks, for which you'll need a vessel to reach.
If you'd like to read in more detail about tackle and techniques, refer to our extensive Guide to Cobia Fishing in Florida.
Good to eat?
Firm white meat, considered excellent table fare.
- Season - always open;
- Size limit - 33'' FL minimum (37'' TL for Texas and Virginia);
- Bag limit (per angler per day) - 1 for Florida (up to 6 per vessel) and Virginia; 2 for all other states;
- Season - always open;
- Western Australia - up to 3 fish within the pelagic limit, 75cm minimum;
- Queensland - 2 fish at 75cm minimum;
- New South Wales - up to 5 fish with no size limit;
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