What's hot: The northerly bait migration is in full swing along the west-central gulf coast. King and Spanish mackerel, bonita, grouper, cobia, tarpon and the oddball sailfish are excellent prospects any time you're fishing near the massive schools of bait.
Pro logic: The first showings of cobia are often on nearshore wrecks. As the water warms, large southern stingrays make their way onto the shallow flats. They stir up the bottom, and cobia trail to feed on small crustaceans in their wake. Trailing cobia might not always be visible. Anchor in areas the rays frequent, deploy a block of ground chum and suspend a palm-sized pinfish under a cork to produce them.
Double-teams: Savvy anglers who prefer to fish by sight use a two-person operation, one in a tower or poling platform and the other standing on the bow with a rigged live pinfish resting in a 2-gallon bucket of water. At first sighting of a ray or cobia, the spotter tells the angler to cast the pinfish into the path of the cruising fish. Always have a second rigged bait ready. Cobia on the flats often are in pairs. When a hooked fish comes to the boat, the second usually follows it.
Robert McCue may be reached at GiantTarpon.com or toll-free 1-800-833-0489.