Robby Maroudas remembers seeing a huge cobia about 15 years ago near the R8 marker, but he couldn't get it to bite.
On May 26, Maroudas saw another huge cobia, this one on the Betsy Ross reef.
The difference? This one was hungry - and that made all the difference in the world.

     The 92-pound fish, which inhaled a live menhaden fished near the bottom, lost a brief battle and found itself coming over the gunwales of Maroudas' boat, the Tuna Hutt.  

     "I have been fishing off of Hilton Head for 20 years, and I knew this fish was the one," Maroudas said. "My fishing buddies, Joe Clear and Ronnie Chewning, are not small guys, and it took all of us to hoist this fish over the gunwale."

     The big fish, if it is certified, will easily surpass the existing state record, an 87-pound, 13-ounce fish caught in the Broad River in 2005.

     Maroudas, a partner in Hilton Head's Red Fish Restaurant, was fishing in the 24th annual Food and Beverage Fishing Tournament out of Palmetto Bay Marina. The fish hit around 2 p.m.

     "The fish ate the bait on the starboard side and moved towards the wreck, and I could feel the line rubbing," said Maroudas, who was using a 5-8 medium-action Crowder rod and a Penn Torque reel spooled with 100-pound Power Pro and an 80-pound fluorocarbon leader. "When I reeled in a little big of line, the big fish surfaced, and I mistakenly thought it was two fish. There were about 10 more cobia following this one. When I saw some frayed line come onto the reel, I knew I had to keep the cobia up.

     "A big fish like that will either get caught quickly or it will dump the reel and the angler will be forced to chase down the fish," said Maroudas, who boated the fish after a battle that lasted only a few minutes.

     The big fish was the second of the day aboard the Tuna Hutt. Combined with a 46-pounder caught earlier, the 92-pound brute helped Maroudas win the tournament and the $1,000 first-prize money.

     After the tournament weigh-in, the cobia's stomach contents was examined by Al Stokes of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. He found 11 large blue crabs, some partially digested.

     "Cobia are known as a crab eater, and a mature fish like this tell us a lot about cobia," Stokes said.