Cool waters keep anglers onshore
And so time marches on and we enter the quietest time of the angling year. The cooler waters offshore are no encouragement to the tropical species that we concentrate our effort on and it is not as if we are in a hurry to take on the chilly winds and weak sunshine that dominate most of our day.
The longest night of the year has now slipped past and the days are getting longer but it is going to take a good while before the suns warming rays come far enough north to do us much in the way of good.
Northern lows and the passage of cold fronts do their best to make the winds howl and any boat ride bordering on the uncomfortable, even for the heartiest of sailors.
On the odd occasion when circumstances and the weather combine to allow a sortie afloat most non-commercial fishers will be either looking for a quick wahoo or bottom-bouncing for some ready white fillets. The focus on any sort of sport fishing is pretty well removed from most peoples minds and while there may be a few willing yellowfin around and the ambers and bonitas might be at their best, most of them will be well left alone.
There is even some evidence that the white marlin fishing might be good here at this time of the year even though no one is likely to put in any serious effort; and Oriental longliners have established that a good class of albacore (tuna) runs through the local area during the January to March period. Again, it is not likely to see us poke our noses into that sort of fishery. It might be there but we probably wont. We prefer warm waters and wahoo and tuna and marlin.
Meanwhile, we can dream of the great feats that we will accomplish come summer but with so much time on our hands, we can let our minds wander a little farther than usual. So, stuck here without much in the way of prospects of getting offshore anytime soon, lets consider what we might like to catch but really cant do here.
Lets start with tarpon. Yes, they occur here; although strictly speaking, they are uncommon. For one, you dont see them every day and most would not know where to start going to look for one. This can be refined a bit by taking into consideration what has happened in the past when a few have actually been caught. There are certain times, like late summer, ands certain places like Ferry Reach or Mills Creek when they are more often to be found, usually following beds of bait like fry.
Although the species is prized on light tackle and on fly gear, a lot has to do with where you are fishing or them. Around here there are not many places where you are likely to encounter them that are not full of moorings, junk and other obstructions. Because of the immense battle that they put up, running hither and yon and then jumping clear of the water before sounding and making other powerful surges, it is more than likely that a tangle of some description is likely to occur.
This situation is very different from the deep passes between islands and under the vast bridge system that leads from the mainland down over the Keys. Backwater mangrove areas are also a lot larger than anything that we have here and so there are less hazards to the catching of the fish. There are also probably literally millions more of them in and around Florida let alone the rest of this extended range into neighbouring waters. So, yes, maybe you could catch one here but that is going to a lot of trouble for something that is readily available not so far away.
In fact, many charter operators guarantee that you will hook up with a tarpon or your money back. That sort of deal means that you are on to a sure thing! Well worth the trip there rather than dealing with near endless frustration here.
Next on the list is the cobia. While the sport fishing magazines have plenty to say about cobia (aka ling; not to be confused with ling cod)) from along the Gulf and Atlantic shores of the United States, the species actually occurs on both sides of the Atlantic and in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is not found in the eastern Pacific so does not occur on the American Pacific coast. Again, perhaps not so surprising when you think about the fishs range, like the tarpon, this fish species has occurred here and some large ones have been caught.
One fisherman, some years ago, brought in a 70-pound specimen that he had caught on Argus Bank but was unable to identify. Some others have been caught inshore where they have been mistaken for shark suckers. That is actually not a bad guess as they do bear a superficial resemblance to the latter and are related to that species. The inshore captures here have been in the 10 to 20-pound range.
Although they do look a bit weird they are considered very good eating fish and in the Orient they are the subject of fairly intensive mariculture (fish farming) with the fish being raised for export to some of the worlds major seafood markets.
Cobia are known for putting up a good battle and are excellent fish from a sport fishing point of view so along the United States East and Gulf coasts they are the mainstay of certain charters which specialise in the pursuit of these game fish in everything from backwater marsh waters to deeper water wreck fishing. There is no shortage of American charter operators advertising their expertise in the pursuit of this species with some Florida-based charters boating that they catch cobia all year around.
Depending on where and when they are caught, they range from a few pounds to 70 pounds and more. Most charter skippers put their better fish in the 20 to 30-pound range although it must be accepted that advertisers usually use their biggest fish for their on-line pictures and brochures. If you are really looking for a full sized version, then the world all-tackle record is a 135-pounder from Australian waters, but that might be a little farther than you want to travel to achieve this milestone.
There is some food for thought. While we boast some of the finest salt water angling in the world, we are limited to a relatively small number of species given those considered to be great game fish. Over the next few weeks we will look at some of these other game species that we see time after time in the sport fishing magazines and on television.
We probably would like to catch them and boast about them and while many of them do occur here for various reasons, they are not likely to bother us with any Tight lines!!!
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