It’s not just a springtime fish
Many anglers in South Carolina’s Lowcountry give up on cobia fishing around the beginning of May, but the “man in the brown suit” sticks around well past then.
Rick Percy of Reel Chance Charters in Beaufort, S.C. said plenty of cobia are around throughout June and even later.
“The harvest season closes on May 1 in this part of the state, and a lot of anglers just quit fishing for them,” Percy said. “Then, it opens back up on June 1. But by then, most anglers have forgotten about them and have moved on to fishing for other species. The cobia, they’ll stick around for a good bit longer. We catch a lot of them in June.”
Sight-fishing is Percy’s main way of catching June cobia. Any of the Lowcountry bridges are hot spots. These fish are very curious and will check out any kind of debris or floating structure. But Percy said you’ll often spot them just below the surface anywhere around bridges and where the rivers meet the ocean, even if no structure is around.
“Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to why they’re in certain locations,” said Percy (803-535-6166). “You just have to slowly cruise between the bridge and the ocean and look. They’re not hard to find,” he said.
Bucktails are always good bets
And when he sees one, Percy likes to cast a 1 1/2-ounce bucktail or Spro jig with some type of soft-plastic trailer. He suggests casting beyond and in front of the fish. Putting the lure right in its face is a big mistake.
“Once you’ve cast it beyond and in front of the fish, work the lure back in a way that the fish will catch up to it. Don’t reel it past the fish,” Percy said. “When he sees it, you’ll know. He will turn his body to face it. When that happens, stop and let the lure sink. Eight out of 10 times, that fish will stand on its nose to get that lure.”
If the fish doesn’t pick up the lure, Percy said the best thing to do is start jigging it, but don’t swim it past the fish’s face.
“If you swim it past its face, it will either swim away or follow the lure all the way to the boat. It will stay a foot behind it but never strike at it,” he said. “When you let it sink, that looks natural to the fish. A real baitfish would look for the safety of deep water when it encounters a cobia. Swimming right past just isn’t natural. He’ll follow it out of curiosity, but he isn’t going to bite it,” he said.
Tripletails are also fun to catch, and plentiful throughout the summer.