Among the largest game fish of the USA, cobia are highly sought after when they migrate into the waters of Chesapeake Bay. Each spring, large numbers of these beautiful fish enter the lower Chesapeake, providing a challenge to anglers from Virginia ports.
Cobia are striking fish, with striped flanks, large pectoral fins and a deeply forked tail. The fish have brown backs with a black stripe along the lateral line and white undersides. They have a wide blunt head and large mouth. Although most fish are 15 to 30 pounds, they can reach weights of 100 pounds or more and lengths approaching 6 feet.
Cobia fishermen use a variety of outfits, depending on the type of fishing. Some anglers may choose light outfits, while others employ stronger gear as these fish can reach weights of 100 lbs. For sight casting baits or lures, most anglers use a spinning or bait casting outfit in the 20-30 lb range.
Other situations such as chumming require similar or slightly heavier conventional reels. Because of the cobia’s size and searing runs, a smooth drag and fresh, durable line is essential.
Anglers fish for cobia with live bait such as spot, croaker, perch, menhaden, striped mullet, eels, shrimp, crabs and other baits. Top baits vary with season, location, availability and personal preference. Some anglers obtain live baits in local tackle shops while others choose to catch their own with cast nets, hook and line, seines or traps.
Rather than fish with baits, some anglers prefer lures for cobia even though the fish have a reputation for being finicky towards them. Often, anglers will encounter cobia on the surface that will follow a lure but refuse to bite. A few basic lures, presented correctly will sometimes incite a strike from an otherwise un-interested fish.
These include surface poppers, soft bodied jigs and other lifelike lures. The action and presentation of lures can be critical, with experience being a key asset for fishermen. As with rods and reels, lures and terminal tackle need to be sturdy built to handle the stresses of these brutal fish.
Saltwater fly fishing anglers also target cobia in the lower Chesapeake. Fly casters seek out fish that are cruising the surface, orienting to structure or drawn to chum slicks. Fly rods and reels must be high quality saltwater versions, capable of withstanding the powerful runs of cobia. Large saltwater flies that mimic local baitfish are often the best choice.
Anglers that catch cobia must choose to release the fish unharmed, or harvest it for the table. Harvested fish are kept on ice and cleaned as soon as possible. The meat of cobia is white, flaky and very mild tasting.
A single large fish will yield enough steaks to feed several families. Fortunately, cobia is very easy to fillet and the meat freezes well. Cobia steaks are easily adapted to most recipes that call for a white, mild tasting fish.
While some anglers elect to harvest cobia for the table, many are released. Catch and release anglers enjoy seeing a trophy fish swim away unharmed and often commemorate the catch with the purchase of fish artwork or other collectibles.
Unfortunately, many anglers miss out on a wonderful opportunity to do some really great catfish fishing because they don’t take advantage of fishing during the winter months. When the warm weather comes to an end the fishing gear is packed up and stored away until spring rolls around again. These anglers really don’t know what they are missing. However, as word is spreading about all the benefits winter catfish fishing has to offer it is beginning to grow in popularity all the time and more anglers are taking advantage of the great fishing the cold weather has to offer.
Some of the advantages to fishing in the wintertime include the lakes not being as crowded as they are in the warmer months and there will be less noise to scare the fish away. Wintertime also provides a great opportunity for you to catch some really large catfish which is always a pleasant way to end a fishing trip. Here are a few winter fishing for catfish tips to help you take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer.
Selecting the Right Bait for Winter Catfish Fishing
Selecting the right bait for winter catfish fishing is not as difficult as you might think. You will always have good luck with bait that imitates the natural food source of the water in which you are fishing but having a variety of different options available will ensure your success.
Below is a list of the bait that is among the most favorite of many anglers when fishing in the winter:
When choosing the best bait to use consider the average size of the catfish in the body of water you are fishing. Bait that is too small will be ignored by the larger catfish and bait that is to large will not be taken by the smaller ones. Using the wrong size bait can keep you from getting the most from your fishing trips and keep in mind that normally fishing near the bottom of the water will get you the best results when you are winter catfish fishing.
You also need to be aware that the catfish will move slower during the winter than they do during the spring and fall so you have to compensate for this by moving the bait at a slow even pace. Like most all species of fish the catfish will gather together in groups even in the wintertime, so your first job is to find where they are congregating together. Once you have located the catfish you are ready to present your bait and start reeling them in.
Equipment and Tackle
Experienced anglers tend to use long rods when fishing for large catfish because they offer so many advantages over the shorter ones. For instance, a rod ranging seven feet or longer gives you an opportunity to get your bait close to the catfish without spooking them. Normally, it is easier to control your bait and set the hook faster with a longer rod as well and when reeling in the large catfish you have more leverage. The most popular fishing rods are designed from fiberglass, graphite or a combination of the two.
Did you know that saltwater shore fishing is an exciting way to catch many different species of fish? It offers opportunities that you won’t have with any other type of fishing.
When shore fishing you can take a small boat out to the coves and other unpopulated areas to reach places where many species are just waiting for a serious angler to come along and entice them. You also have the option of fishing off rocks, piers, docks and the shoreline. This is great for people that do not have access to a boat every time they want to go fishing.
With all the different types of saltwater fish found in the oceans comes a variety of strategies to help you catch the most possible fish every time you go out.
When it comes to being successful a lot of saltwater shore fishing is based on experience and trial and error. However, there are a few strategies that can add to your success and help you improve your skills at saltwater fishing.
Strategies Used for Shore Fishing
One of the biggest problems anglers encounter is not being able to get the bait to where the fish are. Therefore, you need to try different methods until you find one that gets the bait in the middle of fish.
How deep you need to fish will depend on the type of species you are fishing for and the time of year you go fishing.
It is recommended that when using scent bait you change it often even if nothing has hit it. This should be done at least every twenty to thirty minutes. The reason for this is because after bait has been underwater for awhile it looses it smell and appeal preventing you from getting a bite.
When you notice that everyone around you is catching fish but you are not having any luck at all, try changing the size of the bait you are using. It is a good possibility that the bait will either be small or too big for the fish in that area.
When saltwater shore fishing, the retrieval is extremely important. If you reel in the line very slowly you have a good chance of snagging a fish on the way in. This has happened many times in the past.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with shiny tackle and beads. Sometimes these will attract the fish faster than anything else you could use and you will never know how successful you can be unless you try.
Avoid populated areas where there are people everywhere. Not only will you be distracted by everyone around you but all the noise discourages the fish from taking the bait.
Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to go shore fishing. This is when the beaches and waters are less crowded and when the fish tend to be the most active when it comes to feeding.
Where to Search for the Saltwater Fish
It is well-known that different species of fish hang out in different areas and depths of the water. It is for this reason where to search for the saltwater fish of your choice will mainly depend on what species you are fishing for.
Still, there are some basic rules that apply that will narrow your search and make it easier for you to know where to begin.