After 3 months of major adulting, I was finally able to get away. The combination of buying a new house, trying to sell the old one, office life, and of course daddy life kept me off the water for what felt like an eternity. However the window of opportunity came just in time for me to look for cobia before the season closed.
Machine gun fire from the near by military base set the tone for the day as I launched the Ultra 4.7 into glassy conditions under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, CBBT. It felt like a search and destroy mission since it was the last chance I was going to have to bring home a keeper cobia before the season closed. Plus it was my third trip in less than 3 weeks, so I was feeling a little vindictive. The first trip involved a ridiculous amount of paddling, not seeing a single fish, and a sour Asian. On the 2nd trip I did manage to find a mid 30” specimen of the target specie, but minimum was 40” to keep. It was swimming on the surface with their signature brown topside clear as day. I knew it would be short but I casted anyway. It was fun regardless, especially since I hadn’t fought a fish in so long. And as my buddy Willy Rags says, “It’s still a VA kayak cobia”.
Later that same day, I had a mid 40"cobia thrash on an eel but not take it all the way. I circled back around and it came straight to the stern of my kayak then streaked off to grab my eel. Splashing on the surface, the cobia ripped the eel right off the hook before I could put it into free spool and let him get it all the way in its mouth.
I saw 4 others that day but they either got stung earlier or just weren’t hungry. It gave me hope for the third trip though, having seen good numbers. Again I paddled a lot and covered a lot of water, watching charter captains hook up over and over again in their big boats with search towers. I saw 5-6 fish, messed up casts on a couple, and just simply got rejected on the others. Apparently, third time wasn’t the charm.
Johnson Outdoors (mother company of Ocean Kayak and Old Town) sent me a new Predator PDL pedal drive kayak and two days later I had an opportunity to get out of work. So naturally, still having brown on my mind, I took the new plastic down to the beach. It took a bit to get used to, pedaling instead of paddling, and also took a bit to find the first pair of cobia circling a bridge piling. After careful placement of an eel so it wouldn’t spook them away but still get noticed, it got inhaled quickly. I was immediately grateful that I could pull the brute away from the piling while back pedaling and reversing out. Then after a short sleigh ride going side to side and spinning, it became a vertical tug of war.
With it being a day after the season closed, I had the opportunity to test out an in-water measuring technique I’ve been wanting to try on cobia. After grabbing the leader, I tail looped it then lip gripped it. I had a tape measure attached to the mouth end of the lip gripper that also had a rope coming off the handle. I passed the rope around the YakAttack screwball / dogbone camera mount toward the bow to pull the head of the fish toward that direction. I then stretched the measuring tape toward the tail that I was able to pull to the surface with the tail-loop. If I couldn’t put the hammer to it, I was glad it went an inch over the 50” minimum for a release citation.
After getting the measurement, I took the tail loop off and pulled it up to get a better look at it, then released it. I found another one not too long after, to give me that adrenaline rush. Unfortunately, about 8 minutes into the fight, after bringing it yak side 3 or 4 times, he made another run, twisted, and spit the hook. But that was ok… Well maybe I screamed a bad word several times, but since it wasn’t any bigger than the one before, at least I don’t think, I got over it pretty quick.
Didn’t see another the rest of the day; still wishing I had some for the grill, but I’m all smiles about a Virginia release citation cobia.