Cobia Season

These brown battlers offer exceptional sporting opportunities.

Article and photo by Miles Altman, Bayrunner Fishing Charters

Heralds of spring, the highly anticipated arrival of cobia by local fishermen marks the beginning of the season.

These big, brown battlers have often been confused as sharks when seen swimming on the surface of the water. They will definitely raise your pulse when pitching a bait, as they often nose the presentation only to turn away uninterested. Growing up to 100 pounds, cobia offer great sport and are known as true tackle-busters.

This year, our inshore waters will be closed again to harvesting cobia during the month of May, as they have been for the last few seasons. The Broad River, north of Hilton Head, used to be one of the best spots in the country for cobia fishing, but with explosive numbers of local and out-of-state anglers putting incredible pressure on the fishery, the stocks declined to alarming numbers. The days of fishing the river for cobia have declined woefully. Hopefully, we see some signs of recovery this year.

Fortunately, the offshore stocks have been plentiful, it seems, and have been deemed a separate group by marine biologists. Even so, measures are being taken to preserve the stocks there before they suffer the same fate as their inshore cousins.

Averaging 30 to 40 pounds, the tasty fish yields plenty of delicious filets, and the current daily allotment is certainly more than enough for anyone’s needs. Hopefully more anglers will practice good conservation and release more fish.

Offshore reefs are often covered these days by a large number of boats chumming and fishing live bait in hopes of hooking these excellent game fish. The human population explosion is definitely evident in these once-remote spots that have now turned into “boating parking lots.”

We hope to have a good cobia season this year. Once again, I encourage all anglers to practice good conservation and, even more so, good manners. Let’s preserve our fishery for future generations and model some integrity and morals for them as well!

Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. The Finatic boat, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers, features a special three-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.