When Captain Eric White saw a massive cobia rise to the surface attached to Danish fisherman Per Olav Madsen’s line, he couldn’t believe the size of the fish.
âI lost it,â he said. âWe were quite far away and it took about 15 to 20 minutes before it started to expand and come back to the surface. It was the biggest I had seen in a long time, and there was no way any fish would get into the boat if I didn’t have the enormous “turtle net” on board. “
Seeing and catching the cobia has been a common occurrence in recent weeks for White. He spends time fishing coastal beaches 70 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico aboard his Dorado sport fish, targeting typical grouper and snapper to exotic species like the African wahoo and pompano. The cobia race is in full swing and he is not surprised when he sees them.
âOver the past three weeks, it’s almost like every trip presents itself. They have been everywhere, without rhyme or reason. It’s not just the wrecks and reefs that people expect, it’s the hard bottoms when we fish for other species. From live bait to smelly stuff, they’ve been all over the water column.
As Madsen battled the big cobia against the boat and White prepared the giant landing net, he got a little nervous. Cobias tend to go crazy when in a boat, not going down without a fight. The size they were that day was so big that he didn’t intend to keep her, but she could easily do some damage, so when she was captured, the fishermen luckily calmed her down, unhooked and raised for a quick photo before an uneventful release.
âThese big fish don’t have as good meat as the smaller ones. I didn’t want to kill such a big spawning fish so we got a crappy photo and that was it. I couldn’t believe the size of it. I remember a 95lb I had with a buddy and that fish was as big if not bigger, probably over 100. “
Other cobia skirmishes have occurred even near the shore. With strong easterly winds, they caught one on the beach when fishing for jacks and again at 9 meters when catching bait. Since it’s prime time for the cobia migration right now, it might not last longer, White explains.
âThese fish grow south, it happens every year around this time. I think once the water really starts to cool down there will be lagging fish, but not the large numbers like what is happening now. When the fronts roll back to back, that could be the end. “
Captain Eric White can be reached at 941-234-8436.