SatFish maps show you where to find ideal conditions for cobia:
- Sea Surface Temperature: 67-76F (68-73F is ideal)
- Water Color / Chlorophyll: Blue to green inshore water, 0.5-5 mg/m3 (especially where it mixes together)
- Bathymetry/Depth/Structure: Ledges, reefs & wrecks in 50-120 ft. of water, sometimes even shallower right up to the beach
How to find and catch cobia
Cobia are a coastal pelagic species that typically stick to nearshore waters 50-200 ft. deep, and often in even shallower right up close to shore and harbor entrances. They typically spend the winter around South Florida and the Keys before migrating north up the East Coast inside the Gulf Stream in Spring, and up the Gulf Coast through the Florida Panhandle and Louisiana to Texas in Spring and Summer. They’re commonly found following larger rays and sharks around, presumably a throwback to their evolutionary origins as close relatives of remoras.
Use SatFish high-def SST, water color, bathymetry and fishing spots marking wrecks, reefs and ledges to find 68-73 degree water over bottom structure. Cloud-free SST is also a good tool to find the general areas with the right temps for cobia when skies are cloudy during wintertime cold fronts. As they begin their northward migration, they’ll often “stack up” along the leading edge of the 67-68 degree water as they instinctively push north but get held back by cold water ahead.
68-73F water: Good
Blue to green coastal water: Good
Reefs, Wrecks, and other structure in 20-200 ft. depths: Good
68-73F, blue to blue-green water with bottom structure & migrating rays and sharks: BEST
Here’s an example of how to use SatFish SST charts and the bathymetry & fishing spots layer to find good areas to look for cobia:
Watch for signs of life such as bait schools up near the surface around around the up-current side of bottom structure. The springtime migration is a great time to sight fish for them as they cruise right along the surface and in the shallows, both by themselves and with mantas, sharks, and stingrays. For surface sight fishing, pitching live pogies (menhaden), pinfish, croaker, or eels works great, and they’ll also eat bucktail jigs and swimbaits. You can also catch them while structure fishing both near the bottom and when they rise up off the structure toward the surface. Live crabs are a favorite bait in some areas and they have earned the nickname “crab eater” for good reason.
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