By Ed Walker
The Tampa Bay Times
The fall migration of coastal species is in full swing. One of the most popular species currently passing by is the cobia. As they flow by from north to south they take a somewhat different course than they do in the spring. Most swim come by offshore with occasional sightings along the beaches. The best place to find them is on wrecks or near other large bottom features from 15 to 80 feet of water. If you are serious about cobia hunting the best approach is to go early and check each wreck briefly. The first angler on the spot usually gets the best opportunity.
Ideally the fish will rise to the top to check out a boat and eagerly eat a bait. Many have been small lately so the trick it to try to pick out the biggest one right away. If you hook a small fish when a group of cobia comes around, leave it on the hook and in the water. This can help hold the other fish near the boat while you try to get the one you want. Chum will also help keep a pod of cobia in sight.
Not seeing fish on the surface certainly does not mean there are none there. They spend most of the time on the bottom, often laying on the sand motionless until something gets their attention. Sometimes they follow rays around on the sand bottom near the structure. Dropping live baits to the bottom with a sliding sinker rig will get you bites from these unseen fish.