"Nothing's more fun than sightfishing the migration of spring run cobia off Port Canaveral with friends," explains Captain Gina of Lagooner Fishing Guides. "You don't have to get up at the crack of dawn and you really want a nice sunny day with little clouds or overcast conditions because you're spending all day sitting in a boat tower or standing on the bow with your polarized glasses on and you don't want the seas to be over a couple of feet either. During the spring cobia run it's usually the first days of the year to work on your tan before summer, catch a few fish and have a tropical drink while I'm out on the water, and when you catch one of these fantastic sport fish, it's a bonus to come home and have a cobia dinner."
March is usually the time of year when the cobia promenade the clear waters off Canaveral on their way to northern waters pursuing baitfish and summer breeding grounds on the Atlantic Coastal Regions. During the winter cobia can be found on wrecks and other structure between cold fronts and freeswimmers can be found when the water reaches 68° on the surface. During the summer cobia often make residence along the warm coastal waters and can actually be caught anywhere from along the beach in pursuit of bait to the offshore fishing grounds on our continental shelf. However, the peak of cobia fishing of Port Canaveral is undoubtably during the spring when the water temperatures meet or exceed 68°f and this is when the cobia fishing fun begins.
Sightfishing for cobia is most exciting as your charter captain meanders along ocean areas watching with his expert eye for the big brown fish lolli-gagging on the surface. Sometimes you'll see cobia on a baitpod, other times you'll see them swimming along floating structure like weeds, trash or other floatsome. Many cobia are caught on the giant manta rays that take flight along the beaches while others are caught while swimming circles around sea turtles relaxing on the surface. "One year we saw large tiger sharks lazily swimming on the surface with teams of cobia swarming around like fighter pilots protecting a b-52 bomber another year we saw them on a whale shark and maybe even more bizaar our friends found cobia and mahi-mahi swimming around a cuban refugee raft with cubans aboard. It seems like every year has something different for the avid cobia angler.
"Charter Captain Richard Bradley has never skunked us yet and I've been cobia fishing with him for years. Several times he's raised dozens of fish on some secret structure and we caught and released cobia till our arms wore out."
Captain Rocky VanHoose
Captain Richard Bradley has been cobia fishing since he was a child with his father off Port Canaveral. "My dad used to take me in his nineteen foot Lone Star boat in search of cobia around the channel markers and bouys near Port Canaveral. We never had to go far before we found what we were looking for in the 1960's and early 70's as there were so many cobia that set up residence in our waters. These days you have to look a lot harder and concentrate on where the fish should be, but there's still plenty of cobia around during season when the conditions are right."
Cobia fishing off Port Canaveral is almost a year long event, but the lion's share of cobia are caught in the spring when the water temperature is in the correct range and the bait shows up off Canaveral. Always ask yourself, are the conditions comfortable for the fish you are pursuing and is there a food source for them to follow. In the spring it's a magic time off Port Canaveral as the cobia follow the water temperature and bait northward toward their spawning grounds.
Cobia fishing is undoubtably one of my favorite fishing activities. This species of fish is aggressive and entertaining for all anglers to participate and enjoy hooking up with.
Cobia are most often sight fished for along the coastlines of Florida. My boat has a tall tower that assist me in finding cobia when they are swimming on the surface or around manta rays and turtles.
Look for March and April to be the best months to fish for cobia around Port Canaveral, but be aware that it's all about water temperature and cobia can make early or late showings due to mild or harsh winter/springs.
Captain Richard Bradley
Minimum size 33" to fork 1 per harvester or 6 per vessel per day, whichever is less.
Florida Cobia Record
103 lbs., 12 ozs.
spawns in spring and early summer; feeds on crabs, squid, and small fish. Target this fish in early spring or late winter (feb-april). Cobia are often seasonal so make your reservations during this time of year.
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