Feeding the Obsession

It all started with a casual phone call to check the day’s bite in Mosquito Lagoon. Bryan Pahmier, a friend and guide, from Titusville, mentioned that he was going to take his boat out to see if any cobia were near shore out of Port Canaveral. He was going solo, so another angler onboard to share the helm sounded great. A plan was hatched, but since the fun was to take place on a work day, a couple of calls were required to confirm that a get out of work pass would be endorsed by the boss.

The Pavlovian response the idea of cobia fishing brought on was deep rooted in a new found obsession that had bitten me deep, sight fishing with a   fly  rod. The idea of sinking a hook into the jaw of a new species suspended the realities of the real world, work would have to wait. The priorities of the next 18 hours would revolve around the quest to stalk, fool, fight, and land a pelagic species.

I found myself strolling into my favorite local  fly  outfitter a mere hour and a half later to sit down at the tying vise to make an attempt at creating what in my mind’s eye a cobia would find irresistible. Every Thursday evening a collection of kindred spirits wanders into the shop at closing time to sit and share war stories, share or learn a new  fly  pattern, or simply enjoy the company of fellow addicts. While I’ve never heard “Hello my name is…” at the gathering, it would be appropriate.

I found some bright strips of bunny zonker and matching flat waxed thread and took a seat. I decided that simple, yet bright was the plan I would work; a Technicolor eel my desired outcome.

Bryan and I launched his flats boat mid morning and headed out of the port to take the opportunity that relatively calm seas afforded us. I had never seen a cobia before, so the ideas of sight fishing for one on  fly  in my first encounter was truly exciting. As the throttle was advanced we slowly began cutting through the chop heading south looking for signs of life on the surface. The sun was steadily rising into the sky helping warm the waters and improving our visibility with each passing moment.

The cobia we were searching for are often found nearby to floating structure as well as swimming just beneath the surface. As such, anytime a piece of flotsam was seen or a turtle spotted we would adjust our course to investigate.

Shortly after eleven we spotted yet another turtle bobbing along on the surface nearly a quarter of a mile away. As we approached, we quickly spotted a nice size cobia lurking beneath the turtle. It was game time; the moment we had prepared for and hoped would present itself. The sight fishing opportunity for my first pelagic species had arrived.

The set-up for my first cast was ideal allowing the newly crafted  fly  to be placed just behind the resting turtle as the cobe lazily circled it against the clock. Almost instantly the fish keyed on the  fly  and approached to investigate. After following along for twenty or so feet the cobia was nearing our boat and I picked up the  fly  to try and prevent the fish from detecting our presence and sounding. As soon as the  fly  disappeared the fish made an about face and returned to the turtle The process repeated itself several times, with each repetition causing my stomach to tighten even more as my pulse accelerated. I began to feel the tremendous weight of doubt settling in as the fish appeared to be interested yet not hungry or fooled. That weight increased exponentially as the turtle sounded and disappeared into the depths.

Once the turtle disappeared, the cobia began to meander shifting some of the angst that was freshly created to Bryan as he maneuvered the skiff to position me for another shot at the now moving target. We were stalking now, attempting to place ourselves into a position that would again allow the  fly  to invite our quarry to eat.

My mind was reeling, trying to process what I needed to do to fool this beast that had shown keen interest in my offering no less that eight times yet not commit to rendering the  fly  a mid-day snack. The next cast would be different, no constant stripping with the fish in steady pursuit. I slowed my retrieve, only striping the  fly  mere inches at a time, keeping the  fly  4 – 6 inches off its nose. My heart was about to explode, every nerve was on edge. As I approached the decision point where I would need to take the  fly  away to preserve our stealth, the fish exploded on the  fly . Fish on!

After a strong run away from us, the fish went vertical, diving to the bottom where a tug of war would take place for the next half hour. As I was reveling in the follow and take, doubt again began to creep into my consciousness; would the fish be landed, could I close the deal?

Nearly thirty minutes later Bryan carefully gaffed a very tired adversary and brought it into the boat. We were ecstatic. The episode had joined us as one, allowing for our efforts to be rewarded, the obsession fed.

If you enjoy the teamwork that constitutes sight fishing a cobia, get out while they migrate past Central Florida’s coast and experience the euphoria it delivers. The day’s events are a memory I will cherish for years to come.

Source by Larry Littrell