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Captain's corner

By PETE KATSARELIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 2, 2001


The cobia run is on. These brown pelagics had been relatively unseen on the north Suncoast, but they seem to have moved in, in force.

On Sunday, we spotted about 25 spread over six or seven large stingrays. We managed to hook 10 and land most before high winds and overcast skies made them impossible to keep an eye on.

When in the right mood, cobia will eat just about anything. Large pilchard herring, pinfish and small blue crabs seem to work best. If none is available, an eel replica on a three-eighths- or half-ounce jig head usually will induce a bite. No matter which bait you use, the most important part is presentation. When following stingrays, cobia are often reluctant to leave them, especially in shallow water. Lead the fish with the cast so that by the time the cobia swims by, the bait is at its eye level. Cobia are not only great fighters outside of the boat, but inside as well. Make sure the fish is tired before trying to land it, and watch out for the retractable spikes on the back of its neck. Cobia are excellent grilled, but bleed the fish by slitting its neck from gill to gill before cleaning. It will result in a much nicer fillet.

- Capt. Pete Katsarelis charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at (727) 439-3474 or by e-mail at inshoreadventure@aol.com.

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