The summer heat has been brutal this year, but the showers have been consistent and have kept the temperatures tolerable. Sometimes with all the pressure that the fish receive in the Tampa Bay, you have to go into stealth mode. It helps to fish the moonlight hours, there is less boat traffic, it’s not nearly as hot and you camouflage with your surroundings.
Fish are more susceptible to eat and are less finicky during low light hours. It also helps if you fish the peaks of the tide. Cobia AKA Ling or the “brown bomber” receive a ton of pressure during the day, many times they are accidently found when targeting bait at the markers or around structure. This is when people start chasing them around throwing everything under the sun, just to try and entice a bite. Often times cobia will get what we call “Lock Jaw”, this is just a term used when a fish just won’t eat. It can be frustrating, because if cobia haven’t been pressured, they are typically not shy about inhaling a big fat threadfin, pinfish etc… Setting up for cobia at night can be very rewarding, although you lose the excitement of sight casting, you still have the excitement of anticipation. I typically like to locate a marker or structure that I know cobia frequently visit. I anchor up and throw out a couple chum blocks, cobia are very quick to respond to chum.
Next I place an underwater light at the transom; all fish are attracted to light. I speculate that this is for security purposes. Once you place the light in the water, small bait fish, ladyfish, and trout with start to gather around the light. Using these two techniques increase your odds of hooking a cobia drastically. The third step requires you to present large live baits. I prefer to use live ladyfish, silver trout, threadfins or pinfish. I have had most success using live ladyfish at night. Using 60-80lb mono leader, and a large 8/0 circle hook. I drop a bait below the boat, next to the structure. I then place bait on the bottom, just a few yards behind the boat. This will help target fish that are coming in at different depths of the water column. These are the three simple steps to catching cobia at night. You must have patience and remember a large majority of the time; you will get a strike at the change of the tide or at “slack tide”. Make sure you use stout tackle, I recommend 40-80lb braid equipped with a 40-80lb class rod. Make sure you try and fight the fish to where it’s completely exhausted (Unless you intend to do a boat side release), never bring a green cobia inside your vessel. They are known to create havoc on deck and can cause serious injury. Implement these tips and you will have success, remember to be safe out there and have fun!