Rapidly cooling water has brought many of the gulf's coastal migratory species of game fish to the area on their annual voyage south. One such species is cobia. Seldom are cobia found on the flats in the fall like they are in April and May, however, most pass by in deeper water. Just offshore there are quite a few big cobia coming through now. While fishing wrecks in 30 to 75 feet last week, we found them. In one spot a school of 8-10 greeted us at the surface with several over the 50-pound mark. When targeting cobia on offshore structures, what you see on top is usually a small portion of what's on the bottom. We always cast at surface fish, but when they disappear, that's not always a bad thing. The key to catching those you can't see is chum. Anchor in the sand up-current from the structure and chum with chunks of fish such as mackerel. Set two live baits with sinkers behind the boat in the area you think the chum is most likely to reach the bottom. Set a free-lined bait such as pinfish or grunt higher back in the chum line. Steady chumming often brings pods of bottom-dwelling cobia right to your bait. Most hookups come on the bottom baits, however, leave the flat line out while fighting the fish for the inevitable followers that arise with the one on the hook.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at [email protected] .