Jake Worthington of Camden was fishing for king mackerel on the south corner of the Avalon Pier last week when he got a big surprise. Instead of a king, Worthington caught a 60-pound cobia that fought him for almost an hour before coming close enough to the pier for another angler to gaff. 

That it was a cobia was not the biggest surprise to Worthington. “That’s my sixth cobia of the year off the Avalon Pier, so I wasn’t completely shocked, but it is a little bit late in the year for that species,” he said. He caught most of the other cobia between June and the end of July, when he said they typically move in and out of Kitty Hawk Bay. Worthington’s biggest surprise came when he actually landed the fish after getting hung in three other king anglers’ anchor lines. 

“My reel is one of the first-generation Avets, and the clicker on it is really quiet, so by the time I realized I had a bite and was getting to the rod, the fish had already slowed down, so I knew it wasn’t a king. I set the hook, hard, twice, and the fish rolled on the surface. I realized then that it was a cobia,” he said.

But the fish wasn’t through. It was just getting started. “It made 7 passes back and forth, staying out about 50-yards the whole time,” said Worthington. As is customary when pier fishing, other anglers were reeling in their lines to stay out of his way, but two fellow king anglers could not free their anchor lines, so they cut the lines in order to lessen Worthington’s chances of tangling in them. Unfortunately, the opposite occurred. “It was crazy because it ran back and forth six times and I didn’t get hung up on anyone’s line. On the seventh pass, I hung two anchor lines,” he said.

Make that three anchor lines. “There was actually a third anchor line that must have been cut off the day before. I got hung in that one too, and their anchors were holding. The cobia got at about a 90-degree angle from me at one point and I couldn’t get any leverage because my line was going straight to one anchor which was in the opposite direction of where the fish was. I just kept trying to keep the line as tight as I could,” said Worthington.

Luckily, the fish made a run back toward the pier, and after a 45-minute fight, Worthington was finally able to get enough leverage to steer the fish close enough that another angler could put the gaff in it. Another two anglers also gaffed the cobia, and the fight was over.

Worthington was using a 2-pound live bluefish for bait, and had it hooked with two 4X-Strong treble hooks and one 7/0 live-bait offset hook. His double hookset early in the fight proved to be the difference in landing this fish and losing it. “All three hooks were buried in the cobia’s mouth and face, so that helped a lot. Even when I couldn’t get leverage on the fish, he wasn’t coming unhooked,” said Worthington.