It’s that time of year on the Panhandle. Cobia are migrating west along the beaches and the tournaments are in full swing. If you have never done this, it’s a unique fishery. It’s all sight fishing for big fish.
Boats move down the beaches with two, three, six, eight people in the tower looking for cruising fish. Towers range from thirty foot tall welded works of art costing tens of thousands of dollars to step ladders lashed to the bow of a jon boat. You do what you need to to participate in this adventure.
Once a fish is spotted an angler in the tower casts a bait to the fish. The bait of choice is a live eel. Failing that, a grunt, or pinfish, or other medium size bait fish. If that does not work, a jig, or a shrimp, or whatever works.
The captain may maneuver the boat following the fish for feet, yards, maybe miles while all the offerings are made until the fish eats or disappears under the waves. Once hooked up the rod is lowered down from the tower on a pulley system and retrieved by the angler in the cockpit and the fight engaged.
This week I was able to get out with the boys on InstiGator, a proven Cobia killing machine with a tournament winning and hardened crew. The trip did not disappoint, yielding this 61.7 pound beast for angler Big Rick.
While this was an awesome fish, the current first place fish is an astounding 98.8 pounds.
There was plenty to go around so I decided to pull together a little creole cobia treat for dinner.
Yum, that is some good fish. The recipe:
Garlic, onions, chives, chopped fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, chili pepper, celery, shrimp shells (remove after the sauce simmers for a while) a cup of wine and a cup and a half of water all sauteed and then simmered for about thirty minutes. Seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme. Fish is just dredged in flour and pepper and cooked for about four minutes with a bit of oil in a hot skillet and then put in the sauce to finish. Saute a few shrimp in the same pan and add to the mix. Garnish with green onion.
Hope you get out there and catch ’em up!
Sorry its been a while since I posted, but lots going on, most of which unfortunately has not involved fishing. I was prepping to get back on the water this spring and thought some folks might like a little primer on how to properly crimp a leader, so I made this little video. There are few things more frustrating than hooking up a nice fish only to have the crimp connection fail. I had it happen once on a nice tuna and have not allowed a repeat. Hope you find this video helpful.
In the video I eyeballed the right slot in the crimping tool to match the sleeve I was using. I have done a bunch so was pretty comfortable I had the right size. I highly recommend that you follow the recommendations on the packaging until you get the feel for the correct pairings of leaders to sleeves and sleeves to crimp tool slots. Its important to use the right sizes to assure a proper connection that is not so tight that it damages the leader, but tight enough to assure the connection will not slip under pressure.
Good luck out there, and catch ’em up!
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Well, I get real itchy when I can’t fish. Can’t sit still. Have to do something, and this winter was tough. Between windy and rainy weather and waiting on parts and mechanics, I had to find things to do other than fish.
I did all the usual boat and fishing tackle chores, my honey do’s around the house, some volunteer time, this blog, but still there was a hole to fill. So, I decided to do something nice for my wife for Christmas. Build something with my own two hands. I knew she would like that even if it turned out terrible. After all, this is the woman that bought me my deep drop rod and reel, my fishing kite, my jigging rod, even an awesome fillet knife set. In other words, she supports my addiction so seems fair I do something special for her.
Well, I have literally never none any woodworking. Perhaps a bit of rough carpentry, but nothing really challenging. So, why not just jump in head first? We had some plastic planters on the deck for vegetables and herbs and they were falling apart. What I knew she would like was a large wooden planter box to replace those.
No problem. I looked for plans for something like she needed, but nothing really hit the mark, so I sharpened my pencil and designed something myself.
If there are any woodworkers reading this, please stop now and come back when I post about fishing. You will laugh and snort your drink up and out your nose if you proceed. I can probably fool the rest of you and make you think I knew what I was doing. 🙂
So, I built this:
I was shocked, it actually came out square and did not collapse when I filled it with dirt!
Anyway, I gave her this for Christmas. It was quite a challenge assembling it on the deck while she was out on Christmas Eve and hiding it until the morning. She may have sneaked a peak, she isn’t telling.
She liked it so much she asked me to make a twin for Valentine’s Day. While I was flattered, I was not sure it was a repeatable exercise. Regardless, I decided to give it a shot. It all came together in the end. We call them “The Twins.”
I think I may have actually gotten some genes from my machinist grandfather that skipped my lawyer father’s generation.
For anyone interested in the detailed how to of the build, it’s all on video. Again, woodworkers of the world, please close your eyes.
Hope you enjoyed this on a rainy winter day and I hope you get out there and catch ’em up!
Frenchy called me and asked if I wanted to put that deep drop rig I blogged about to work. I jumped at the chance. We loaded up the Blue Spirit and headed south out of Pensacola Pass on a crisp cool morning. The wind was still and the seas smooth making for a nice run out. Crew was Scott (aka FN Yankee), Mike, Bill, Me and Frenchy.
We stopped and took a quick shot at some bonito for bait, but they were elusive and we did not have time to waste. So we were reduced to utilizing our stash of assorted frozen ilk including this turducken like cigar minnow stuffed squid.
Yes, squid do eat fish nearly as big as they are.
Here is a little video of the action.
And a few stills:
Turned the grouper into Baked Grouper Parm.
Simple to make. Just dipped the fish in a mix of egg and milk then dropped in a baggie containing Parmesan cheese, flour, salt and pepper. Baked for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Pairs well with Magic Hat #9 (but then, what doesn’t?).
Until next time, get out there and catch ’em up.
- Got out last week and hit the rigs in search of Wahoo and Tuna. This was the first time I have ever had a dog along for an overnighter, but it turns out he is an avid angler.
That is Milo, he is Frenchy’s pup, and he was full on fishing the entire trip. Every time he heard a reel clicker he was on it. In this video he shows his technique for subduing uncooperative tuna!
I especially like the way he takes a bite and spits it out on the deck 🙂 Reminded me of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
We did not tear ’em up, but we found some fish and turned a bit of success into a new recipe we dubbed Atún del Mediterráneo. It was good!
The tuna is just seared in a bit of olive oil with a dash of salt, pepper and cardamon. Served over brown rice with a cold sauce of fresh diced tomatoes, lemon, olive oil, salt, parsley, green onions, capers, and olives. On the side, big juicy grapes and fresh steamed broccoli. Yum!
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Weather looked good last week and when Frenchy proposed we head for the rigs, I jumped at the chance. It’s not often you get a forecast like this in February.
The crew was me, Frenchy, Allen, Manfred, Chris and, of course, Milo.
We headed to the fixed platforms on the shelf looking for wahoo. We had one nice strike on the large Yo Zuri, but all we had to show for it was some missing paint and a nice impression of some very sharp wahoo teeth.
We bounced south by Marlin and Ram Powell checking there for Tuna and Wahoo, but no love. Water was ugly and had river weeds floating in it. 67 degrees. We moved south to Horn and picked up a decent blackfin bite, but no yellowfin activity and the water was cold and green. We moved south to Ensco DS 8505 and the water there was a balmy 74 and we picked up several smaller yellowfin in short order.
Manfred is a lean mean jiggin’ machine. Like the Energizer Bunny he just keeps on going. I don’t know how he does it, but he supplied us with a bunch of blackfin that we converted into chunk bait trying to trade up to yellowfin. He also jigged up at least one yellowfin, maybe more. Chris took first shift at the chunk duty.
While we were finding some fish, the size was not what we were hoping for. Our friend Nick was in another boat working Nakika and some of the other ships and rigs in the area and they were having the same challenge.
We tried Q5000, a rig I had never seen before. Milo was on duty inspecting operations.
We had lots of fun and it was great to have a chance to do an overnighter this time of year, but with fuel low we decided to head for the hill.
Hope you enjoyed the report. Until next time, Catch ’em Up!
I was asked about the rigs we were using to catch those fish so I created a short video to show you how to make them up. They are pretty simple and while you can buy them already made up, it’s a lot cheaper to do yourself.
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Here is the video of building the deep drop rig. I had a little help from my K9 buddy. He didn’t seem very impressed.
For deep drop, you really need an electric reel. Cranking up five to eight pounds of weight 800 feet to check your bait would get old really fast. These used to be particularly expensive, but they have come down in price significantly in the last couple of years. You can get some really nice ones, but you can also go budget. I have a Diawa Tanacum Bull 1000 that is really nice but relatively lower priced. I also have a Fish Winch that is at the low end of the price spectrum, but that I have found to be like the turtle, slow and steady.
The rod on the Fish Winch is just a trolling rod with roller guides. Works fine and I switch it back and forth between trolling and deep drop so I don’t need two separate rods. The one on the Tanacum is a really nice dedicated deep drop rod my wife bought me and you can also see in the picture a kite rod (also a gift from my wife. She keeps me well outfitted!). This allows me to switch the Tanacum over for kite fishing duty rather than having two separate reels.
Hope that all helps you to get out there and catch ’em up.
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