What's hot: With the water temperatures holding above 70 degrees and on the rise, pelagics such as cobia, kingfish and tarpon are moving into Tampa Bay to feed on the influx of bait. Cobia are one of my favorite fish to catch and eat. Our cobia have begun to move into the bay from offshore and are showing up with a serious appetite.
Tactics: The mouth of the bay is split by Egmont Key, which makes two funnel-like passes that concentrate pods of bait to feed cobia. There are a few basic ways to fish for cobia in this area; arguably the most effective method is to sight cast surface-cruising fish. These brown bombers can be found cruising behind rays, turtles and manatees, or ambushing baits on fixed structures. Your eyes are your best and most important tool when pursuing cobia in this manner, and this is where having a tower on your boat comes in handy. Focus your efforts on open-water structures such as range markers and bell buoys. Be sure to look not only around the structure but down at pilings, ropes or chains that might be attached to the bottom. Cobia are often found suspended on these structures.
Matt Santiago can be reached at (813) 205-2327 or CaptainMattSantiago@gmail.com or online at FishingGuideTampa.com.