Motorcycles are not the only new arrivals making noise this week along the Grand Strand. The first wave of cobia surfaced along the beachfront, mixed in with the pods of menhaden and cigar minnows running the shoreline, and they are about the size of small submarines and are serious about eating.
Capt. Jason Burton of Fly Girl Fishing Charters had a 50-pound fish come to the boat on Wednesday morning during a trip for Spanish mackerel and gray trout – better late than never.
“This time last year, the water temperature was six degrees warmer, and the cobia were here thick by now,” said Burton (843-421-2870). “Last year was the best cobia year we have ever seen off Murrell’s Inlet, but it looks like they are cranking up now.”
Burton’s Wednesday party ran into the cobia almost by accident.
“On the first drop, one of my female anglers was bringing up a 15-inch Spanish from the bottom, and this monster cobia tried to eat it,” he said. “I got her to keep the cobia interested in the Spanish without hanging him until we could rig up a fresh menhaden on the heavy rod.”
As soon as he got the rod rigged and his angler dropped the free-lined menhaden into the water, the cobia smashed the bait, slinging salty spray all over the anglers.
“It was all out hysteria for a while, but we managed to put that fish in the boat without too much trouble,” he says. “(Capt. Jay) Baisch caught the first one down here on Tuesday, and the local piers and parasail boats have been seeing a lot of them right off the beach over the last few days.”
According to Burton, the cobia are patrolling around big pods of menhaden and cigar minnows, but they canl be found just about anywhere where baitfish are found, from the suds out to the nearshore reefs.
“Beyond the beachfront, places like the 3-Mile, Pawley’s Reef, and Myrtle Beach Rocks should have plenty of bait around and there should be cobia there too,” Burton said.