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Updated: 04/03/2014 08:00:01AM

Always be ready for a cobia

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PHOTO PROVIDED
Big cobia are not an easy fish to target in Southwest Florida, but that doesn't mean you can't catch them if you're prepared for the opportunity.

WATERLINE PHOTO BY JOSH OLIVE

Good cobia lures: A bucktail with a dark plastic worm and a Berkley Power Eel.

By Robert Lugiewicz

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In late February and early March, cobia start making a showing in Southwest Florida. These fish are often spotted by anglers seeking trout and redfish on the grassflats, or along the beaches. Along the northern Gulf Coast, these fish often school. Here in Southwest Florida, cobia are almost always seen alone or with just one other cobia.

If you spot these fish while you’re running, you can usually stop and go back to them as long as you don’t run them over — they’re not spooky by nature. Try to drift up to the fish, or use the trolling motor. Cobia are not picky about their diets — shrimp, baitfish, crabs, eels and almost any other small aquatic creature is fair game. The best lure you can use is any eel imitation in black or purple. Hogy and Berkley both make good baits, and Berkley’s is already rigged. Even a big bass worm will work. Berkley’s eel is rigged with tandem hooks, but you can use a single hook with a Hogy or plastic worm. With smaller plastics, rig them on a bucktail for a larger presentation.

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