May is cobia time in Murrells Inlet

The spring cobia migration brings some of the biggest fish of the year to Murrells Inlet.

Grand Strand anglers find lots of cobia during spring

Capt. Tommy Werner of Outlaw Fishing Charters looks forward to the spring cobia season in Murrells Inlet. And when these fish begin to show up in late April, he makes regular trips along the beach looking for these large powerhouses.

“Cobia start migrating into the area from Florida in April,” said Werner (843-504-8793). “But May is the best time to catch them along the beaches. And the full moon in May is typically the prime time.”

According to Werner, cobia arrive in two distinct schools where one school tends to set up along the nearshore and reefs. The other school frequents the beachfront just behind the breakers.

“Menhaden are migrating into the area and cobia show up following the bait,” he said.

Cobia arrive in big numbers, but they will be in small groups around the bait nearshore. They generally travel in one- to three-fish packs. These fish that arrive patrolling the beachfront are typically mature specimens and they aren’t too bashful or boat-shy. In fact, they are far from spooked by the presence of a boat.

“When I pull up to a school of bait, cobia will be sunbathing and gliding across the surface near the bait. They are curious creatures. Sometimes they will swim right up to the boat,” he said.

This situation is a prime opportunity to get a hookup which is why Werner likes to have a couple of pitch rods rigged and ready for deployment.

“I will have a heavy-duty spinning rod rigged with a bucktail and curly tail trailer. And a conventional reel with a live menhaden or big mullet on a circle hook,” he said.

Having pitch rods ready to use is critical for getting hooked up on these fish because the opportunity they present will typically be a short one.

“Pitch to the fish as fast as you can. The cobia will be there and then gone. Sometimes you can have a few minutes. But it is normally 30 seconds and then the fish disappears. And every cobia is different. Sometimes they take the bucktail immediately. But other times they just come up and look at it and turn away,” he said.

Werner emphasizes to make the first pitch count though and to present the lure the way it should be presented to increase chances of hooking up.

“The first reaction will be the best chance of hooking the fish,” he said.

Cobia at nearshore reefs remain a valid option all summer long, but typically, the largest fish caught all year are patrolling the beachfront throughout May. Cobia greater than 50 pounds are not uncommon.

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About Jeff Burleson 1285 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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