Cobia are a very popular target due to their hard fighting nature and incredible table fare. They are typically brown and white, with the brown sections on younger specimens being very dark. Their streamlined body often gets them mistaken for sharks, while the coloration and size of the younger cobia gives them the appearance of a remora. Cobia can grow up to 6 feet long and 100 pounds, but most Cobia will be in the four foot range.
Cobia are found primarily in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. In the western Atlantic Ocean, they are found from Nova Scotia to Brazil, however they prefer warmer water, and head south in the fall. In the eastern Atlantic, they are found from Senegal to Angola. In the Indian Ocean, they range from the Red Sea to Australia and New Zealand. And in the Pacific Ocean, they are found from Japan to New Zealand and from the Hawaiian Islands to Polynesia. Cobia prefer waters between 68-85°F, but can tolerate a wider range. Cobia are often found near structures such as reefs, shipwrecks, oil rigs, and other structures in shallow water. They will also often follow schools of baitfish near the surface.
Cobia are not particular when it comes to bait, and will often strike anything that resembles their prey. Live or dead fish, cut bait, squid, and even crabs (one of the cobia's favorites) can all be used as bait when fishing for cobia. Eels or eel imitating artificials are among the best bait, and anglers in the Gulf report hardhead catfish being a great cobia bait as well. As for tackle, medium to heavy spinning or conventional gear is best. Cobia are powerful fish and will test your gear to its limits.
Cobia can be caught using a variety of techniques, however if a cobia is specifically what you're after, sight fishing is the technique of choice. Sight fishing for Cobia is extremely popular, usually done by weed lines or structure. Try to throw your bait or lure 3-5 feet past the fish. Further away and they may not see it, or not feel like traveling for the meal. Too close and they will get startled, and cobia are known to keep their mouth shut after being spooked.
Bottom fishing or drifting works as well, but given their propensity to take a variety of baits, there's no way to target them specifically. They can be a bit curious, and may swim up to the boat while you are bottom fishing. Keep a rod ready with a jig to throw at the fish if this occurs.
A word of caution, cobia are notorious for thrashing up the deck if gaffed too early. You will want your fish to get its final runs out before trying to bring it on board, or you can expect rods and tackle to get smashed around, not to mention the risk of personal injury. Keep the cooler open, and get the fish shut inside ASAP.
Cobia are considered excellent table fare. Their flesh is white and firm with a mild flavor. Cobia can be prepared in a variety of ways including grilling, baking, and smoking.