My eldest daughter Kelsey, over the last few years has gained a passion for off-shore fishing. She doesn't have the opportunities that her younger sister Lauren has as she's been living on Atlanta and now Pompano Beach.... on the water... with a pool and dock. Sweet! Although she doesn't fish as often she makes up for it with bubbling optimism and enjoyment to be out on the water.
Last Mother's Day, my wife Susan asked for a fishing trip with her family. Kelsey was in town for the weekend so we got an early start Sunday morning. Live bait was hard to find, yet the mahi bite was still hot, therefore frozen ballyhoo was the bait de jour. Targeting cobia was not on our mind as they prefer migration to the coastal waters of Florida when the northern water gets cold from November to March, driving them south in March when water temperatures are above 72 degrees. At these times they can be found from Cape Canaveral to Key West along beaches and shallow wrecks, not to say it's unusual to see them year-round taking up residence on the deeper wrecks. To target these fish starting in March we usually head into 60 to 100 feet of water over reefs and wrecks. Since it was May my thoughts were on a chance to catch some more mahi and kingfish (we were getting low on smoked kingfish dip aka smack).
Our plan was to head northeast past the offshore bar looking for a temperature change or some floating structure like sargassum weeds that provides shelter and safety for small bait fish. Shortly after we cleared the Ft. Pierce jetty rocks, and in about 35 feet of water we approached a massive sargassum weed line. The ballyhoo was thawing in a bucket so we made a pass to see if the mass was holding any bait. As we we're about to leave Lauren caught a glimpse of something under the weeds. "Cobia!" Lauren shouted. "Coming out of weeds toward the boat!". Kelsey quickly grabbed the Penn Battle II spinning reel/7' rod combo spooled with 30# braid, topped with 5' of 50# fluorocarbon leader, and rigged with a 3oz Chartreuse jig. By this time the cobia was in curiosity mode and behind the boat. Her cast literally landed on the head of beast. He immediately grabbed the jig and submarined to the bottom. Fish on, fight on. Two times Kelsey brought him up to the boat yet just out of the reach of our gaff. Her arms and legs were shaking, and her tank was getting low. On the third try I missed with the gaff as it slid through his gills. "Oh no" I thought as I lost a huge mahi with the gaff the year before after Kelsey fought the large bull for over an hour. Luckily I had one more chance and into the boat he came, I'm not sure how as he was quite the slob to host over the gunnel.
We then ran off to the blue water change and trolled some ballyhoo at 90 feet. Lauren and Sue each caught nice sized kingfish so we decided to call it a day. I've added a picture of the day's catch above. IT turned out to be a pretty sweet Mother's Day for he girls!