Great news for local anglers, as federal waters have reopened for the cobia season this year!
Cobia catch limits for individuals and per boat have been lowered, but they are still more than ample for a big fish like these battlers. The size has been raised from 33 inches to 36 inches, but just to be able to keep one is much better than the alternative.
It has been sad to watch the decline of this magnificent fish in coastal South Carolina. The Broad River was once touted as the “Cobia Capital of the World” by fishing magazines. It used to be easy to catch multiple monsters in a single trip.
Those were the days when a handful of boats were fishing. Before the decline, it was nothing to see 300 to 400 boats fishing the Broad River. As with most of our natural resources, when the population of people exceeds the supply, we lose access to the resource and are forced to rethink our resource management strategy.
I talked to several anglers who specialize in sight fishing. On calm days, they reported seeing more cobia in the river last year than in previous years, so the state closure that remains in effect for inshore waterways is more than likely a good idea. You can still fish for cobia in-shore, but you can’t keep them.
Often confused for sharks (which they love to follow, along with rays, buoys, etc.), the average cobia usually weighs around 35 to 40 pounds and can reach 60 pounds for the grownups. Most of the time, they put up a tackle-busting battle, but are curious and will often swim right up to the boat, with or without a hook in them.
Once they know the hook is there, watch out! You’re in for a battle.
Many times, you will have them swimming around the boat and they will not touch a bait, making you want to pull your hair out. One thing everyone agrees on — the flesh is delicious. Cobia is a very firm fish that lends itself well to the grill. It’s also delicious prepared in any way that you prefer.
So, all in all, cobia offers excellent game fishing and even better eating. I can’t wait to catch my first one this year.
Please help this great species: take only what you need and can use…and let the rest go, so we can rebuild this important fishery.
By Capt. Miles Altman, Bayrunner Fishing Charters
Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years of experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. Don’t miss the new Finatic boat, which accommodates up to 12 passengers and features a special 3-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Capt. Miles at 843-290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.