Top Gun connects on first shot with cobia season
Charter boat lands first ling of 2012 fishing season.
By Bryan Bowers - 2 March 24 at 8:08 pm
When the Top Gun crew left Port Royal Marina for the South Ledge and Triple Ledge at 4 a.m. last Sunday (March 18), the plan was trolling for wahoo and tuna. When Capt. Tom Thomas reached the fishing grounds, he discovered the water was too warm for tuna, but they trolled along the ledges anyway “to see what would happen,” according to first mate Taylor Thomas.
They found a weed line that produced several very nice dolphin and a 44-pound wahoo, but with slack tide approaching around noon, they left to look for cobia.
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“We knew they would be at the tower because of the water temperature; the key point is the temperature,” Taylor Thomas said.
Upon arrival at the tower, they were greeted by a school of cobia cruising the surface. Thomas’ tools of choice was a spinning outfit with a Penn 750 reel spooled with 80-pound braid and a white bucktail jig and Gulp! eel combo that he calls his “bread and butter” outfit for cobia.
Early season cobia are notoriously tight-lipped, and the fish were not in the feeding mode. Two other nearby boats were also unable to coerce the cobia into biting.
“I had to work my magic to get one on the line,” Thomas said. “They wouldn’t bite on the surface, so when they do that, I jig it in front of them and send it down to the deeper waters, but doing this, you never know if an amberjack is going to get it before a cobia does.”
His magic worked, however, and the cobia hooked up.
“When I finally saw the cobia on the end of my line, I was stoked,” Thomas said. “The first cobia of the year is always the most exhilarating for me.”
Tom Thomas also hooked up, but his cobia shook the hook; Thomas’ cobia, a 35-pound specimen, came over the gunwale just fine.
Catching the first cobia of the season isn’t a new experience to the Top Gun.
“To our knowledge, my dad and I have actually brought in the first cobia (out of Beaufort) three years in a row,” Taylor Thomas said. “We just know when and where to go and how to get them to bite.”
By Capt. Tom Thomas
The Cobia are offshore three weeks earlier than last year which was an early year. This was the warmest winter of my 30 years in Beaufort. This is the first year that my Mexican Violets did not freeze and get killed back by a cold freeze. My Azaleas bloomed 3-4 weeks early and the pollen bloom was the earliest and worst that I have ever seen in Beaufort. So, I checked the offshore water temps and headed out to catch a very early Cobia. We caught the first Cobia of the year last year on April 10th. This year we caught him on March 18th a full three weeks earlier than last year. The Mahi, Sails and Kings will be earlier, too! I expect huge Bull Mahi by mid to late April this year.
We all met at the boat at 0330 for an O’dark thirty launch. With no Moon and clear skies we headed out on RADAR for a three hour ride to the South Ledge. We were on station before the first rays of light hit the water 30 minutes before official sunrise. Lines were in the water and we boated our first fish before the sun broke the horizon. We trolled the ledge for two hours looking for Blackfin Tuna and Wahoo. All we caught was Little Tunny. So, we headed back to a weed line that we saw on the way out. We found a huge weed line in closer than normal and the fish were there on a temperature break of 69-72 degrees. I saw Mahi under the weed line immediately and we picked up two before my last chance line went screaming wildly. Mate Mills picked up the rod and fell back as the fish screamed off about 200 yards of line while I screamed out WAHOO! After a great fight, Taylor gaffed a beautiful Wahoo for Mills. We caught a nice 45 pound Wahoo, two Little Tunny, and three peanut Mahi trolling. It was a beautiful day with a low of 62 and high of 80 degrees. The seas were 1-2 foot and winds SW 5-10 mph. So, I decided to go sight casting for the first Cobia of the year at high noon on a slack tide. Things worked out as planned and we were soon surrounded by 12-14 big Cobia. They were not hungry; but, Taylor Thomas (my son and mate) managed to entice one to bite. After a good fight on a spinning rod he brought him alongside for the first Cobia of the year.
It was a beautiful day on the water! We saw Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles, Spotted and Bottlenose Dolphin, a Whale’s tail, Mola Mola, Mahi Mahi, Triple Tail, Wahoo and lots of Cobia. Another boat saw a Sailfish. We all decided that it was a great first fishing day of the year on Topgun 5. Book early this year, I only have 4 weekend days left in May and April is filling up fast.
Tight lines to ya!