The Beaufort-area cobia bite has taken off

Live eels are working best as big fish arrive on spring run in St. Helena Sound.

Brian Cope

May 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Capt. Chris Mattson (left) put these two fishermen on this 60-pound-plus cobia in St. Helena Sound.
Beaufort Boat & Dock Supply
Capt. Chris Mattson (left) put these two fishermen on this 60-pound-plus cobia in St. Helena Sound.
Lowcountry anglers are loading up on cobia in St. Helena Sound, and Capt. Chris Mattson of Mattson Charter Service has caught several in the past few days that have bottomed out his 60-pound Boga Grip scales.

Mattson said sight-fishing – casting live eels – has been a big part of the fishing, especially on clear, sunny days. Drifting with live eels is another great strategy for catching cobia, and some anglers are also catching them while anchored around bridges or other structure.

When sight-fishing for these fish, Mattson (843-694-7422) said he cruises around the sound looking for the dark outline of the fish near the surface; polarized shades are essential. Once a cobia is spotted, Mattson has his clients cast the live eel in the fish's general direction. It usually doesn't take long for the fish to bite, but sometimes the cobia will spook and ease away from the boat. Don't fret when that happens though, said Mattson, because the fish usually stay right at the surface and are easy to follow. Once in position, Mattson said to toss the live eel again and prepare for the fight, which can easily last over an hour.

According to reports from Beaufort Boat and Dock Supply in Port Royal (843-986-0552), squid, menhaden, mullet, herring, eels and live whiting fished on the bottom is the way have been top baits for soaing on the bottom.

A typical rig for cobia includes a 4-foot leader of 80-pound  monofilament with a treble hook tied or snelled at the very end and another treble hook about a foot up the line. Some anglers use a combination of one treble and one circle hook, and others opt for two circle hooks. The leader is connected to the main line with a bimini knot or a ball- bearing swivel. Both hooks hold the live eel or other bait. Anglers fishing on the bottom use a 1-ounce to 4-ounce egg sinker above the swivel, but most sight fishing anglers toss their bait with no additional weight. 


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