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Fishing Hole
Palm Coast Thursday, Apr. 7, 2011 7 years ago

With temperatures on the rise, cobia and rays are round the corner

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by: Capt. Rob Ottlein

It’s time to start gearing up for cobia.

Reports show cobia are in the Port Canaveral area, and this means the fish should only be a few weeks away from our area. The thing that’s holding their migration back is the water temperature. It was reported to me the other day that the water in Matanzas inlet was 61 degrees.

The water temperature at the reefs and wrecks off Flagler Beach was only 63 degrees. Once the surf temperature starts near the 70-degree mark, we should start to see cobia.

Once the cobia enter our area, the main concentration of fish will be found in depths ranging between 35 to 45 feet. It’s then that you have to start looking for the large manta rays. The cobia will be found swimming with the rays and can be underneath, on top of or following them. The width of the rays can be up to 20 feet, and the large ones will often hold a good number of fish.

The best time to look for the rays is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., with noon being the optimal time because of the position of the sun — when there’s less glare on the water. Once you spot a ray, you need to get within casting distance without spooking the fish. If you get too close, it will sound quickly on you. Normally, you will be able to see the cobia around the ray. Fire off a cast quickly and begin to reel. You will, on occasion, hook the ray, and he will take you for a ride.

You’ll want to use some fairly stout tackle when it comes to cobia because they can reach more than 80 pounds. An 8-foot spinning rod that can handle lures up to 3 ounces should do, as well as a reel that can hold about 300 yards of 30-pound braided line. On the end of that line, you’ll want to have a minimum of a 50-pound leader. When it comes to bait, a 1- to 2-ounce brightly colored buck-tail jig tipped with a curly tail grub should work.

For even better results, try a jig with a Berkley Gulp eel attached. Cobia can’t resist an eel.

Use caution when bringing these fish aboard the boat. Their tails are spiked and can cause you major harm if you’re not careful. A large landing net or gaff is preferred.

Keep your ears open and listen to the grapevine for manta ray sightings and get out and enjoy these powerful fighting fish.

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