The recreational cobia fishing season will open May 1 in North Carolina waters with new private vessel limits.
During the open season, the minimum size limit will be 36 inches fork length (measured from the tip of snout to the fork in the tail), and the possession limit will be one fish per person per day.
The vessel limit while fishing aboard a private vessel will one-fish per-person per-day with a maximum of two fish per-vessel per-day if two or more people are aboard a vessel, from May 1 through June 30. The private vessel limit will decrease to one fish per-vessel per-day on July 1. Previous regulations dropped the private vessel limit to one fish per-person per-day at the beginning of June.
The possession limit for fishing aboard a for-hire vessel will be the same as last year: one fish per-person per-day, with a maximum of four fish per-vessel per-day if four or more people are on board a vessel.
The recreational cobia season closes on Dec. 31.
The recreational cobia fishery is managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. In 2020, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission reallocated the Atlantic group cobia quota from 92% recreational/8% commercial to 96% recreational/4% commercial. This change was primarily based on new recreational catch estimates that resulted from changes in survey methodology by the Marine Recreational Information Program. The new recreational catch estimates were, on average, about two times higher than previously estimated, impacting the allocation between the two sectors. The change in allocation along with 2018 and 2019 recreational harvest estimates fall below the state’s recreational harvest target allowed for the change in regulations.
For more specific information on recreational cobia regulations, see Proclamation FF-25-2021 on the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Proclamation Webpage.
For more information, contact Division of Marine Fisheries biologist Anne Markwith at 910-796-7292 or Anne.Markwith@ncdenr.gov.