Cobia, Baby Bluefin, and Marlin

We ran out of Virginia Beach and looked for cobia on Sunday. We did not go far. We fished from the beach on out to the CB buoy line. We had plenty of company doing the same thing. The photo of Capt. Jorj Head’s boat shows you where we were. We found cobia on buoys and out in the open, around the schools of baitfish which were everywhere. It was a very short trip. We caught 4 cobia. We pulled one off, twice. Thought we had him but the hook pulled, cranking it back with the eel still on the hook, the cobia did not like the eel getting away, and it started all over again. This time the cobia got the eel. We broke two fish off. One was on a buoy which happens. The other was out in the open. Our young angler got a little anxious when the fish was almost in gaff range. He clamped down on the reel spool in order to horse that fish the last foot and the line popped. We call that a teachable moment. His more experienced father was fighting another fish at the same time. He calmly let the drag do its job and his fish was successfully netted while he explained proper boat-side fighting techniques to his son. When Hunter broke his fish off, it did not leave. It went right to the one that Charles was fighting and stayed with it until we netted Charles’ fish. It had no interest in eating again. Steve Martin released a 50-inch fish for his first cobia citation. Our largest fish was 54 inches long. We went in early to get things ready for an offshore trip for the next day.

The marlin bite is red hot so we went fishing for baby tuna on Monday. This is something we do every year. We go searching for young of the year bluefin tuna for the scientific community. We do not find them every year. It is a big ocean and we are just one little boat looking for them. This year is a bit more important. The fish we are looking for are fish which were spawned in the Gulf of Mexico this spring. That is where out western Atlantic stock comes from. Well, with that little oil spill and all of the chemical dispersants used, there was a real concern that we may have lost an entire year-class of bluefin tuna. Usually, I get a good number of volunteers for these trips. Being a Monday and the school teachers of my crew were back at work, a lot of my regulars could not make it. Dr. John Graves and myself can really handle just the little bluefin, it is all of the bycatch that you really need help with. We found a good group who could get off work to go: JT Hale, Blake Hayden, Steve Martin, and Brandon Honeycutt. We started inshore in the Cigar area. We pulled Spanish mackerel stuff off of the transome and normal offshore stuff off of the riggers. I think the total was 12 different species of fish caught. The short of it is, we found baby bluefin so we did not lose this year’s class of bluefin tuna which is really good news. We did not catch a lot and after awhile, John asked if I wanted to run and try somewhere else. I thought that the Washington Canyon sounded pretty good since the guys up there were bailing marlin. It was a bit far so we just headed east. A lot of life in 500 fathoms. We caught a lot of dolphin, jumped off a white marlin, and then hooked up a 300-pound blue marlin on a TLD 30. Steve Martin fought the fish. The fish put a hurting on him but he got his first blue marlin release (Steve said that it would be his last blue marlin release). We also caught little blackfin tuna and a few baby bluefin out there in the deep. They seem to be scattered over a wide area. I expect that we will do a couple more of these baby bluefin trips this year but while we were doing this, one of the boats to our north, released over 50 white marlin.

Dr. Ken Neill, III
IGFA Representative

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