An Epic Cobia Battle

OK, first off…. the fish won. But my friend Tim from Tampa had his hands full on Saturday at the Merry Pier.

After a long sabbatical, Tim ventured over to St. Pete Beach on Saturday for a little fishing. The day started typically, with a few mangrove snapper, and lots of 12 to 18 inch gag grouper. The fun began when Tim threw a big live shrimp out in the deeper water off the front of the Pier. He had a big hit as the shrimp was drifting in the current, and the rod was soon doubled over as a big fish headed across the bay toward Tierra Verde.

The fish came to the top, and splashed around a bit. At first I thought he’d hooked up with a tarpon, but the fish sounded and began a series of strong headshakes. Aha! Cobia! Tim was using a toothpick of a fishing rod, strung with what looked like 10 lb. test mono; not exactly an ideal combination for battling a strong fish. The cobia swam along the top, looking like a big shark with it’s raised dorsal fin. The fish ran Tim from one end of the Pier to the other, and he had to loosen the drag and lift the rod over the various pilings at least a dozen times.

Soon, a crowd of a couple dozen spectators gathered to cheer Tim on. For 20 long minutes the fight continued. Each time Tim managed to get the fish near the dock, it would spook. You could tell it was eyeballing the net. Finally, as the fish neared the dock a last time, it eluded the net, and made a lunge for the pilings. Pop! It was gone.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I was busy enjoying the battle. The cobia was probably in the 40 lb range, so it was quite a feat keeping him on that long. As for the rest of the weekend, well, there were plenty more fish, including grouper, snapper, flounder, mackerel, big bluefish and more. Here’s a nice keeper snapper displayed by Mike:



4 Responses to “An Epic Cobia Battle”

  1. bcjeter Says:

    can you tell me where the rocks are located at the pier?

  2. Steve Says:


    Excellent question. Tim and I have been threatening to don scuba gear and find out for sure, but…

    There are several areas of rocks. One is located about 80 feet directly North of the NE corner of the Pier. There are several scattered rock piles between 20 and 60 feet East of the NE corner, ranging from parallel to the corner to maybe 20 feet south.

    There are several other bits of structure around the Pier, including rocks directly underneath, as well as an old shopping cart, a washing machine, a small sunken boat by the Miss Pass-A-Grille, and (allegedly) a VW. Who knows?

    Trial and error is the best approach here. If you’re not losing tackle, you’re not on the rocks!


  3. Tim Says:

    Hey Steve. What a hoot!

    That cobia was something and certainly the largest thing I have ever tangled with from a pier. It was very cool the way everyone on the dock mobilized to give me room to keep up the good fight; pulling lines out of the water, moving tackle boxes, bait buckets, etc. I looked back a few times to see our little gallery moving right along with things, no one really in the way, just wanting to be a bit involved in the action. Unfortunately the odds on a fight like this happening again soon are slim but I am still most hopeful of another. I’ll try to catch you this weekend. Hey, you never know…

    I am still wondering the best way to land a big fish like that when you do get it right up to the dock. A large net is quite tricky, I am leaning towards a gaff. Any thoughts or experiences from anyone?


  4. Steve Says:


    Yeah, I’ll be soaking big pinfish in hopes of a repeat performance. I think a big net will work, but the fish will need to be tired, the net will need to be in the water, and the fish will need to be steered with it’s head up, directly into the net. Then hope the net handle doesn’t break… Gaff would work to. Or a .380….