How to Catch Cobia: 5 Cobia Fishing Tips [2022 Update]


Updated on September 19, 2022 by

Unlike most smaller fish, the big Cobia fish can fight hard and break gear. They do not go down easily, so catching them is no easy task.  

However, it is human nature to attempt to conquer that which is the most difficult to conquer. That is the core reason behind the enthusiasm surrounding Cobia fishing among veterans and new anglers alike.  

If you’re new to this, you’re likely feeling lost and may need some directions. Do not worry because our Cobia fishing tips are exactly what will help you get started. Every veteran has gone through that lost phase, but learning these basic tips and techniques has always helped them overcome that.  

Cobia Caught and held suspended in water

Where to Fish for Cobia

Unlike other fish, the right place for Cobia fishing greatly depends on the weather due to the difficulty in spotting them. Generally, you can find them around channel markers, bridge pilings, buoys, wrecks, and artificial reefs. But to determine the most likely region, you need to consider the season.  

In summer, these fish can be spotted easily in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The Chesapeake Bay, particularly the Chesapeake Bay bridge tunnel, is considered one of the best locations for Cobia fishing from May through October in the United States as it has the best conditions during that period.  

The east coast of Florida is another great place for Cobia fishing in these times.  

In winter, Cobia fish tend to migrate south and thus abundantly available and easy to catch in the Caribbean areas of the South Florida Atlantic coast. These areas are filled with migrating Cobia around this time, but they can be a little difficult to spot and catch in winter.  

Regardless of where you decide to fish, it would be wise to first learn about the fishing regulations of that area before you go there to fish.  

cobia habitat map, source: on the water

How to Catch Cobia
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It should be noted that Cobias are bottom feeders, but bottom fishing doesn’t bring the desired results. To catch Cobia, you need to lure it towards the surface. Thankfully, Cobias are curious fish, so you can do that as long as you know the right techniques.  

Cobia anglers mainly follow two ways to catch Cobia depending on their skills and the circumstances they are presented with. These are sight fishing and chumming.  

Sight Fishing  

To catch Cobia sight fishing is one of the more popular methods followed by anglers. We will recommend three different ways to sight fish in this article.  

Throwing a Live Bait  

This is the simplest method of Cobia fishing, but you need to be very fortunate for it to work. Live baitfish are the best bait for this task.  

You have to throw them and wait for the target Cobia to catch the bait. Cobias are known to be finicky fish as they tend to play around with bait before consuming them. You have to use that to your advantage.  

When you watch the Cobia swim close to your bait, reel the line in to entice them to strike.

Using Cobia Jig  

Many anglers do not make good use of Cobia jigs when sight fishing, and it is a shame. To efficiently use jigs for fishing Cobia, you must throw a jig about 5-10 feet in front of the fish. Bucktail jigs are perfect for this purpose. 

Make sure the line is extra-long for this one, and let the jig free fall. Cobias are curious fish and tend to pursue baits like these, and you can catch the big fish by taking advantage of that.  

cobia bucktail jig

Making the Most of Serendipitous Scenarios  

The most serendipitous scenario in the case of Cobia fishing has to be a Cobia casually moving in front of your boat. Cobias are fearless creatures that won’t run from you. Instead, they tend to seek shade underneath boats.  

However, you can use this fearlessness against the big fish when sight fishing. Wait until the Cobia disappears underwater after approaching your boat, and throw some of your Cobia lures. Wait for the Cobia to bite and reel it in as fast as possible.  

Chumming  

Chumming is relatively a lot simpler compared to sight fishing. When sight fishing, you must rely heavily on your instincts and prepare for the right time to strike. That is not the case for chumming. It is a far more relaxed approach to Cobia fishing.  

To pull off this fishing method, you have to stuff a chum pot with as much crushed crab or any other dead bait of your choosing. Add fish oil to the chum pot and release it into the water. 

5 Crucial Cobia Fishing Tips  

So far, we have provided the groundwork for everything you need to know to successfully catch the powerful fish known as Cobia. Finally, these tips should give you the primary idea to practically set out and do some Cobia fishing.  

1. Don’t Sight Fish If You Are a Beginner  

While sight fishing is the more effective approach to Cobia fishing, it also requires a lot of skill, expertise, and experience.  

You need to acquire detailed and accurate information on the properties of large Cobia and the ideal locations to fish for them. More importantly, you will also need a boat with good visibility to spot the fish.  

That is why beginners should look towards chumming instead. Even though Cobias are primarily sight feeders, chumming can be very effective against these sight fish as long as you know the right techniques. Lucky for you, we have already covered that in the previous section of the article.  

2. Carry Some Bunkers for Chumming  

Bunkers are cheaper compared to most baits, and they are quite underrated, in our opinion. A big chunk of bunkers on an 8/0 or 10/0 hook can attract most fish like Cobia.  

bunker bait

3. Don’t Position Boats Too Deep While Chumming  

A common mistake made by new anglers is that they take their boats out in 30-40 feet of water for chumming. Deeper water is advantageous for seasoned anglers who will use sight fishing. Sight fishing requires you to be at least 80-100 feet into the deeper waters.  

However, shallow water is more appropriate for chumming. You should go 20-25 feet into the water body for the best results. This way, you can catch more fish other than Cobia.  

4. Hold the Net Properly  

To hold fish in such a way that it doesn’t tear the net or wrestle its way out of it, you need to follow a certain technique of holding the net.  

Firstly, you must hold the very bottom of the net and pull it back towards the end of the handle. Secondly, you must hold the handle and the retracted part of the net together. This prevents the net from getting tangled up with the fish and the bait.  

Finally, drop and lift the net vertically to ensure the fish doesn’t run away. The process can seem a bit complicated in text, but this video should help you understand how it works:

5. Try to Spot Manta Rays  

The rays are the key to spotting Cobia. This information will make your life significantly easier. Know that some Cobias are nearby if you can find a Manta Ray group. These two species have a symbiotic relationship and are often found swimming together.

Best Month to Catch Cobia  

The Cobia fishing season starts on the first of May. The spawning season for Cobia lasts from June through mid-August. So, this period is considered the prime time for Cobia fishing.  

Best Time of the Day to Catch Cobia  

Cobia is almost always available if you are in the right location. But the time of the day matters because it can be quite difficult to spot Cobia fish under the wrong circumstances like cloudy weather. It is easiest to fish for Cobia when the sun is at its brightest.  

Not only is it easier to spot Cobia then but also, the higher the water temperature, the more the availability of Cobia on the surface. The prime time is between 10 AM and 3 PM.  

Best Fishing Line for Cobia  

30-pound braided line will serve you best for cobia fishing. These lines tend to be a lot stronger for catching larger saltwater fish.

Best Fishing Rods and Reels 

You should select a 6 to 7 foot long heavy boat rod with a 6000 to 8000 spinning reel. This heavy-duty combination will be sufficient to land any sized cobia.

Best Cobia Bait 

One aspect pretty unique to Cobia fishing is the requirement of two different kinds of bait. One is dead bait, and the other is live bait.  

The best bait for cobia includes:

  • Rudderfish
  • Menhaden
  • Ribbonfish
  • Minnows
  • Sardines
  • Pinfish
  • Squid

Finding natural baits can be quite expensive. This is especially true for acquiring and storing live bait. To avoid these issues, artificial lures are also available so that you can use them in place of the mentioned dead baits.  

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about live baits, so you need to be careful about picking Cobia lures.  

Conclusion  

Most anglers will agree that Cobias are some of the most challenging fish to catch. However, the bragging rights for being able to catch one are extremely high as a result. If you want to cash in on that opportunity and earn some bragging rights for yourself, we believe you are now well-equipped to start on that journey.  

By following our Cobia fishing tips, you should be able to do that without the risk of making significant mistakes. But you should keep in mind that you will make mistakes, and it will take some time for you to be able to successfully capture the larger fish.  

This is why you need to be persistent. If you are persistent and do not give up, you will be successful in no time.  


Photo of author

Captain Russ Egan

Captain Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.