In 2004, Joe Dephillips landed a cobia over 100 pounds. That monster was on a commercial trip deep into the Gulf of Mexico, fishing on a wreck in 240 feet of water.
Thirteen years later, the captain was part of landing another huge cobia, but this one was much shallower and a size rarely seen that big around west-central Florida.
“We were anchored up on a big ledge in 50 feet of water, grouper and hogfishing. I had us freelining for gag grouper so they wouldn’t see any lead. We threw out a spinning rod with a pinfish on one,” Dephillips described.
“That spinner got hit and something spooled it. Right at the end the leader broke and we pulled it back in. I decided to not throw it back out because it was a little light for whatever ate it.”
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On the bottom, Dephillips’ anglers were catching hogfish. A big shadow followed up one of the rising hogs, either hungry or curious. It was not one, but two large cobia.
“Andrew Bastro grabbed the biggest bait he could from the well, and it was eaten by the larger of the two cobia. We stopped trying to hook the other one and cleared all the lines.”
Luckily for Dephillips, Bastro hooked the cobia on heavy tackle. At first the fish didn’t fight, but Dephillips knew gaffing a huge green cobia might have ended poorly with their tendency to cause havoc when gaffed into the boat. The cobia finally put the tackle to the test when it realized it was hooked.
“He had a new rod with 80-pound test on it for grouper. At first I said, ‘That’s a bit heavy for as shallow as we’ll be fishing.’ But I’m glad he hooked that fish on it.”
After a fight of about 15 to 20 minutes, Dephillips and crew finally hoisted the beast into the boat. The massive fish was estimated by the captain over 70 pounds, but it was never put on a scale.
“Some people were telling me it was over 80 (pounds). It was definitely over 70.”
Toward the end of last week, Dephillips found himself once again tangling with large cobia, this time on a wreck in 80 feet of water.
“We caught a red snapper and a cobia followed it up to the boat. Quinlyn Haddon would end up catching that large one, and then Joseph Brandenburg landed another smaller cobia on an eel jig.
Joseph then grabbed the biggest pigfish from the well and it was eaten. That ended up being the biggest cobia of the day.”
That cobia looked to be about 50 pounds.
“They’re just migrating south, it’s not unusual to catch them but these were definitely bigger than normal,” Dephillips explained. “Cobia are on the wrecks and big ledges, hogfish are schooling on the small ledges and patch reefs, kingfish are plentiful, and snapper and grouper are chewing, too.”
Joe Dephillips can be reached through his Facebook page by searching Reel Lucky Fishing Charters.