Al Jones: Windy conditions in Florida should make cobia plentiful in …


mdsfr-cobia.jpg

Bob Kenney of Slidell, La., weighs his winning 67-pound, 13-ounce cobia on the last day of the 2011 Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. (Jeff Dute/jdute@al.com)


 

The annual cobia migration is underway
and from early indications, it should be a solid year for one of the most
sought-after game fish that calls the Gulf of Mexico home.

The migration began shortly after the
first of the year, as the fish — also known as lemonfish or ling — leave the
Florida Keys and work their way up the Florida Gulf Coast. The end of the
migration is the mouth of the Mississippi River, where the fish spawn.

Along the way, anglers in the Florida
Panhandle do their best to entice cobia into biting with a variety of baits
ranging from jigs to live eels. When the fish are at this point in the journey,
they typically are seen cruising the top of the water during the daylight hours
just off the beach — and do so headed in a westerly direction.

Unlike Mississippi, where we anchor and
bottom-fish Horn, Petit Bois and Chandeleur islands, anglers in the Florida
Panhandle sight cast for the fish.

At times, it appears the cobia — males
and females — go through a gauntlet of lures and baits before reaching the
waters off Mobile Bay and eventually the areas around the oil rigs south of Pascagoula,
as well as Horn and Petit Bois islands.

Those days, at least for the
Mississippi anglers, will unfold later in April.

But for now, the concentration is on
the Florida Panhandle, especially around the Destin area.

Based on recent weather conditions, I
think we could be in for a solid year off the Mississippi Coast.

Since the middle of last week, the
states along the northern Gulf of Mexico experienced a late cold front that
dropped temperatures below the freezing mark. A sudden drop in temperatures
like this is associated with stiff north winds.

Keep in mind that cobia often swim just
off the immediate beachfront in places like Destin during the annual migration.
The best years — from a weather standpoint — includes a southeast wind that
helps push cobia toward the beach. A southeast wind can put the fish within a
mile of the beach and making cobia more visible to anglers in the shallow
waters.

A north wind, like we had for the last
eight or nine days, can push cobia offshore and away from the beach. This makes
the fish less visible and more challenging for anglers to locate.

The more fish that eludes the anglers
in Florida, the better for Mississippi anglers.

Fish are not be as visible in
deep-water and more cobia might just be able to bypass the gauntlet.

The same thing happened three years ago
and it paid off for Mississippi anglers in a huge way. Time will tell.

Buckle up.

Al Jones’ outdoors
column appears each Friday on GulfLive.com and each Sunday in The Mississippi
Press. Email him at alfish1@aol.com.

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