What's hot: Cobia have made appearances at many nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs recently. They respond well to chum and will come right to the boat out of curiosity. Having a rod rigged and ready is necessary, as they can leave as quickly as they show up. A frisky, live pinfish allowed to frantically dive for the bottom will rarely go unnoticed.
Technique: A popular method for hunting cobia is to go from buoy to buoy down the length of the shipping channel searching for fish circling the markers. This technique can be effective, but anglers run the risk of not catching any fish. I prefer to anchor up-tide of a submerged structure, such as wrecks or high-relief reefs, and set up a chum line. Begin with a frozen chum block and supplement the slick with chunks of cut bait and an occasional handful of live minnows. Set out hooked baits, allowing fish to find them naturally, but always have one rod ready to place a bait in front of a cobia when spotted.
Tips: Many other species also are attracted by the chum, providing excellent action while waiting for cobia to show. Spanish mackerel, kingfish, barracuda, bonito and sharks all will take baits presented on the surface. Dropping baits to the bottom will produce grouper, snapper, flounder, white grunts and more.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at [email protected] and (727)510-1009.