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Water temperatures on the flats have stalled in the low 70s, and we have had light wind and clear skies the past week. These factors have come together nicely to form optimal cobia fishing conditions _ the best I've seen in the past five years.

Each day was filled with more opportunities than we could count. We landed 8-10 fish per day, and the largest, caught by Bobby Ulrich of Tarpon Springs, tipped the scales at 27 pounds.

The beauty of cobia, aside from the fight, is they're not often picky. We caught most on soft, plastic eel replicas on a heavy jig head with a stout hook. In some cases a large threadfin herring or pinfish suspended under a cork might entice a stubborn fish into biting.

Cobia are known for fighting hard close to the boat and in it. These fish average between 10-40 pounds so be careful when handling them. A large, heavy-duty net, glove, or mechanical fish-holding device isn't a bad idea. Avoid the sharp horns on their head; they can inflict a nasty wound.

Cobia make great eating but bleed the fish before cleaning it. Slitting its throat and draining it will produce a cleaner, better-tasting filet.

_ Capt. Pete Katsarelis charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at (727) 439-3474 or by e-mail at