Cobia arrival expected to be early this year

A Part of the What's Biting Series

One quick look out the window at your lawn’s green grass, already blooming plants and flowers lets you know Mother Nature is well ahead of her usual spring-time schedule. This sustained streak of mild weather has undoubtedly caused snowbirds to be on a near record pace for both sunscreen usage and calls back to the Midwest to rave about our Gulf Coast winters.

While the warm weather may have our Northern guests contemplating an extended stay, it has me wondering if our annual guests from the East will be showing up early this year.

Cobia season usually ramps up in late March or early April along our beaches. Or, as a frequent cobia-chaser from Georgia once told me, “If the Dogwoods are blooming here in Georgia, I hop in my truck because I know the cobia migration is in full force down in Orange Beach.”

Every year cobia, or ling, follow the entire Western Gulf Coast of Florida from Key West all the way to our shoreline, and eventually to Mississippi and Louisiana.

“I am very confident we will see our first cobia caught along our beaches very soon,” says Capt. Patrick Ivie on the Breathe Easy, a 68-foot Viking from Orange Beach. “I’ve been saying since the middle of February that the cobia will be here early this year.”

And he should know! Last year Ivie and his crew won nearly $50,000 in the Crab Cruncher Classic.

Ivie isn’t alone with his early season prognostication. Chris Vecsey in the tackle department of Sam’s Stop and Shop in Orange Beach thinks conditions are right for us to see our first cobia caught to east of us in the Florida panhandle as soon as this week.

“The water temperature at the 12-mile buoy was 71 degrees last week. It’s rare for the water to be that warm in February. So unless something changes, I think it will be an early season.”

Vecsey is predicting St. Patrick’s Day for the first cobia catch to start the yearly frenzy of those in both big and small boats searching for ling along the Alabama coast.

If you charter a local boat for a day of cobia fishing, mostly likely it will be a big boat, with a tower which gives you a great vantage point to see the just-under-the-surface, cruising fish. Big boats also provide you plenty of room to cast to the fish. Spotting and then sight casting to a cobia is a huge thrill surpassed only by making the perfect cast and seeing the cobia eat your freshly presented eel, crab, baitfish or jig.

But cobia fishing isn’t only for big boats. Smaller boats without a tower can still be very successful during cobia season.

“For a smaller boat, I think your best chance at seeing a fish, or multiple fish is to anchor up and get busy chumming,” Vecsey said. Near shore reefs and the close-in rigs off Fort Morgan are also spots where cobia are caught each year during the migration.

Stop in to see Chris or one of our other fine local tackle shops for bait an
d lure recommendations and the latest “Are they here yet?” rumors. You can also e-mail me and I’ll let you know if the Dogwoods are blooming in Georgia yet … I gotta guy.

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Jim Cox
Jim Cox (1324 Posts)
Jim Cox is an avid inshore, offshore, and big game fisherman. He has twice qualified for the prestigious IGFA Offshore Championships in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He is the past president of the Mobile…