The only thing better than catching a big fish, is catching an even bigger fish. That’s what happened last Sunday for Capt. Rom Whitaker IV of Hatteras. With a 77.8-pound cobia in the fish box caught near Diamond Shoals, Whitaker and Brian White of Virginia Beach, a member of his charter fishing party, crossed paths with a real magnum cobia, a 96.4-pound fish that was 65 inches long.

Whitaker, who owns Sound Bound Charters, had planned to focus on a school of bull red drum that had been hanging out close to Hatteras Inlet, but the absence of those fish sent him to Diamond Shoals in search of cobia.

“When we got there, I could see about 30 boats already,” said Whitaker (252-305-5229), “but they were bigger boats and they weren’t close enough to the shoals. When the water is clear like that, you can sit right on the shoals in 6 to 10 feet of water and see those drum or cobia right on the bottom.”

After hooking and losing a cobia estimated at 45 pounds, Whitaker moved out to the second shoals. 

“At about 9:45, I saw a big cobia,” he said.  “All of my anglers cast bucktails. We hooked up with that fish on an orange and white Aaron Kelly bucktail and fought him for about 25 minutes. We got him to the boat, gaffed him, and thought he was at least 70 pounds. We were real happy with that.”

“We saw a few more fish, but they weren’t very aggressive,” Whitaker said. “I felt like they’d seen a lot of bucktails that day and boats chasing them. They wouldn’t really bite.”

Whitaker made the call to ease back to port around 1 o’clock.

“Once we got over the shoals, into real pretty water, we started seeing a bunch of stingrays,” he said. “I kept working west, right inside the hook, when Brian White and I saw a huge cobia from the tower. It was about 80 yards off the bow, swimming right on top.”

“Brian and Tony Leroy made great casts,” Whitaker said, “but the fish swam by Tony’s and went for Brian’s, which was a little deeper. It just rolled and went down in the water, and he was hooked up.

“I was looking at my bottom machine and watching it get deeper and deeper, 14 feet, 16 feet; that big fish was just swimming on the bottom taking line out.”

Whitaker cautioned White about putting pressure on the spool. 

“I learned that lesson the hard way; let the drag do the work. ‘Don’t touch the spool, don’t stop the line, and we’ll get him,’” he said.

“We fought him for like 21 minutes, I think it was. He came up one time and made a pass on the boat, so I put it in gear and nudged up to him. We got close enough for a gaff shot, and me and Tony pulled the thing in the boat.”