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: