Photo Credit: Charlie Sainz, Josh Arney
The Crab Eaters
Cobia, Rachycentron Canadum, also called lemonfish, black kingfish, and ling, are an excitinginshore/near-shore fish to catch. These fish are opportunistic scavengers, roaming the seas with rays and sea turtles. A newer angler, not familiar with this species, may confuse them for a remora (sucker fish) or even a shark.
With a torpedo-shaped body, they can grow to over five feet long and weigh as much as 170lbs. Cobia have flattened heads and a lower protruding jaw. They are brown with a white belly and have two dark horizontal bands, one on the spine and the other running from the eye to the tail.
As a subtropic species, cobia are pelagic and migrate as far north as Virginia and south to the Florida Keys. They are a very inquisitive fish and can be found by wrecks, reefs, channel markers, and buoys. They also cruise the beaches and mangroves when the water temperature reaches 68 degrees or higher.
Sight-fishing is the general method of catching cobia. Whether using live bait (crabs, squid, baitfish) or artificial (bucktails, jigs, plastic worms or eels), these fish can test your equipment. Heavier fishing equipment is required to haul in cobia; thirty to sixty pound fluorocarbon is recommended. An angler can use weights to fish reefs and wrecks, or freeline your favorite bait on the flats.
Cobia can put up a spectacular fight and once caught are delicious table fare. The next time you are out fishing, look below that school of Rays and see if you can spot one or two of these mighty fish. They may end up being one of your favorite fish to catch, and the taste certainly won't disappoint.