IT’S COBIA TIME
We have seen an increase in interest in spearfishing among anglers. Some inquiries are from anglers searching for alternative fishing methods and many have been from sportsman wanting to see what species spear fisherman are seeking. With the creel limits and seasons becoming shorter, many fishermen are seeking ways to improve the size of the few fish that can be kept. Spearfishing allows the diver to choose the size and species.
Our spearfishing sites are the same reefs, wrecks and rigs that you are probably fishing right now. Some adventurers begin diving and put away the rod-n-reel in favor of a spear gun, but most still pursue both recreational activities. Seeing the site and the way the fish stack-up on the site will make you a much smarter angler. Being able to visualize the way fish hold on different sites gives the angler another tool to target a specific species.
Mid-March to early April is traditionally the month that cobia start migrating thru the coast on their journey. The time of year and the speed of the migration are determined by water temperature. The magic temperature seems to be 68 degrees. The first cobia to show will arrive almost simultaneously with the gulf temperature warming to 68 degrees. Most years the “cobia buzz” around the dive shop doesn’t start until April, but I expect the water to warm sooner than usual because of the mild winter.
The early cobia hunters will cruise the beaches atop cobia towers searching for the distinctive brown shapes. Once spotted the boats move ahead of the pod and try to intercept the fish and cast lures, silver eels, and jigs. The key to sighting the fish is to get as high above the water as possible to increase the downward line of sight.
A new trend the last few years is for spear fisherman to follow this same sight-hunting tactic, but with a twist. We troll the beach looking for the pods, then, when sighted we run the boat ahead of the fish and put a couple of free divers in the water. Armed with mask, snorkel, fins and spear gun, they rely on the natural curiosity of the “ling” to swim close enough to check them out. It usually takes many drops before we are awarded with a curious fish.
Any spear fisherman who has had the luck of spearing a cobia knows that they can be a handful. Cobia are very strong fish that will sometimes lie motionless after being shot, fooling the diver into thinking they stoned it with a great shot. But boy can they come back to life. Any angler that has gaffed a “green” cobia can attest to their surprising strength. I’ve heard stories of sprained arms and shoulders, broken gaffs and many, many lost fish.
Cobia is the main focus of anglers and spear fisherman looking for an adventure in late March and April. For information on spearfishing call Sea Dogs Diver Center at (386) 424-1644 and ask about dive training and spearfishing. Training can be completed in a couple weeks and you can be geared up and ready sooner than you think. Don’t keep saying, “One day I’m going to see what’s down there.” Make that one day happen this year.