May 25, 2011

Outer Banks Angling: The man in the brown suit


The man in the brown suit, the brown bomber, or the fish more commonly known as cobia, has arrived.

From Ocracoke to Oregon Inlet, the reports of cobia are coming in. A 98-pounder was hauled onto the planks at Avon Pier last Saturday, and all the piers on the north beaches have taken baby 2- to 4-pounders on Gotcha plugs.

Cobia are a highly sought after fish. These fish can grow to more than 100 pounds and can put up a fierce fight that can include reel-melting bursts and aerial displays that match that of a 10-pound mahi. A cobia is a head-shaking, determined fighter that can strip an incredible amount of line off a reel in a short amount of time. These fish have been known to crack the fiberglass inside a boat, while going absolutely ballistic after being decked.

Anglers come from all around for their chance at one of these aggressive, prehistoric looking beasts -- and, hopefully, for a cooler full of meat. Cobia are an excellent eating fish, and it's hard to find to many folks who do not agree with this. At times, their meat can fetch $10 or more per pound in area markets.

From piers and boats, these fish can be observed lethargically cruising on or near the surface during clear water days.  They will swim high and slow in the water to take in the mid-day sun's warmth and to prey on just about anything that crosses their path.

 They will hit cut bait on the bottom, just as fast as a lure or live bait on the surface. This fish is the billy goat of the ocean. I saw a gentleman cut one open years ago that had a pair of sunglasses in its stomach. Like I said, this fish is a beast.

I spoke with one of the area's top cobia catching captains, Rick "Cato" Caton. He told me that he had seen numerous cobia and caught a fair amount in recent days. However, Cato did say the current bite does not compare to last year's absolute mayhem cobia bite.

Most of the fish caught in the past few days had been around Cape Point and North towards Avon and Oregon Inlet, reported Cato.

Cato mentioned that in numerous cases it has been hard to get the fish to take a live bait or lure. They have been mighty finicky.  This apprehension about eating can usually be attributed to the fact that every angler from the Gulf of Mexico to the Chesapeake Bay has tried to entice these fish to bite during their spring migration up the coast.

He also mentioned that there seemed to be a lot of these fish still getting caught down south and had high hopes that this was only the beginning of the season.

The surf and pier fishing along Hatteras has been fair, and the regular, persistent angler doesn't sound disappointed.

Nice, large bluefish continue to be beached and decked regularly by Hatteras pier and surf fisherman. As far away as Avalon Pier, these fish have been taken over and over again.

Sea mullet and flounder continue to be caught from Hatteras Inlet up to Pea Island, along with tailor bluefish, on cut bait and lures.

Scattered runs of Spanish mackerel have been reported all along Hatteras Island.

And, scattered black drum and sheepshead were beached from Hatteras inlet to Frisco.

On Ocracoke Island, reports of the large bluefish continue to keep anglers busy, along with some Spanish mackerel biting lures in the early morning and late evening hours.

Scattered black drum, sheepshead, and pompano have also been taken.

The inshore boats out of Ocracoke Inlet have caught flounder, large bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and the very scattered cobia, while the offshore boats have caught wahoo, mahi-mahi, and scattered tuna.

Hatteras offshore fleet fishing has been off the chain. There have been excellent mahi-mahi bites that included some citations. A fair marlin bite has produced quite a few release citations. Scattered wahoo, sailfish, and tuna were also reported.

Inshore boats around Hatteras Inlet did very well with cobia and flounder, along with Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

Offshore fleets out of Oregon Inlet caught lots of mahi-mahi, blackfin tuna, and yellowfin tuna. Scattered marlin and a couple sailfish were released.

Inshore boats have been doing well with cobia and bluefish.

The fishing is really good and the extended forecasts show 80 degree weather and fair winds for the weekend.

I make no assurances when it comes to fishing. The bite could turn off before this report even gets posted. But a bad day of fishing is better then a good day at work.

Are you in your vehicles heading down yet?

Go fishing!

(Rob Alderman is the owner of the Hatteras Island Fishing Militia website and is a kayak fishing guide. Rob has 10 years of fishing experience on the Outer Banks, and is host of the “Outer Banks Angler” television show. You can follow more of his extreme adventures or contact him at

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