John's Journal...

Cobia Fishing with Mississippi's Cobia-Fishing Team Machine

Catching the Cobia

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Tim Reynolds of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, a member of one of the nation’s best cobia-fishing teams, along with Dennis Meins, David Harris and Bo Hamilton, has fished for cobia for 25 years. This week, we’ll look at the techniques his team uses to catch cobia that I learned when I fished with Reynolds Mid-June. We pulled up to a jack-up rig about 35 miles south of Horn Island, off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As soon as we arrived, two cobia surfaced – one weighed about 40 pounds and the other weighed about 10 pounds.

Question: Tim, we haven’t caught a cobia yet, but I’ve noticed your fishermen keep changing baits. Why do they change baits so often?
Reynolds: We change baits constantly until we find one the cobia will bite.

Question: What do you do once the cobia takes the bait?Click to enlarge
Reynolds: I help the angler get the fish away from the rig. We may need to pull away from the rig to get the fish out in open water to get the cobia down. We get the cobia away from the rig as quickly as we can, because if we don’t move them away, they’ll pull us into the rig.

(While doing this interview, Dennis Meins hooked a cobia.)

Question: Tim, why were we able to catch that cobia?
Reynolds: The workers on the rig pointed out the fish’s location. We also got well away from the fish until the cobia had a chance to settle down. When the live croaker swam down to the fish, the cobia wasn’t hesitant to bite the bait.

Click to enlargeQuestion: When you saw the fish take the bait, what did you do?
Reynolds: I immediately put the boat in gear and began pulling the cobia away from the rig. Dennis held the rod straight and kept tension on the fish until we could get the fish into the boat.

Question: I noticed that once we moved the cobia away from the rig and out in open water, you began moving the boat so that the boat and the fish moved together. This way, Dennis didn’t move the fish; he just kept even with it in the water. Why do you do this?
Reynolds: I always keep the boat pointing in the same direction as the cobia, even if the fish is 40 or 50 yards from the bait. We’ll pull the fish slowly toward the bait, but not as much as the boat. If you place a lot of pressure on the cobia and fight it, the cobia will flash in the water, dive deep, get really excited and take the bait. By moving the fish closer to the boat and moving the boat in the same direction as the fish, you can get close enough to see the fish struggling. I knew that once we got close enough for Bo to gaff the fish, he would make one stroke with the gaff and bring the fish into the boat.

Click to enlargeQuestion: I was very surprised that Dennis didn’t fight the fish. Why didn’t he fight it?
Reynolds: We’ve learned over the years that if we don’t get a cobia too excited, and we don’t fight against it, we’ll lose fewer fish. If you start trying to manhandle the fish, and they’re thrashing and fighting, you’ll lose a lot of fish. The cobia will wallow out a hole around where the hook is attached, and if it shakes its head one good, hard time, the hook will slip out. So, we’ll bring in the fish as gently as possible.

Question: Tim, we spotted that cobia at about 10:00 am, and we didn’t catch it until nearly 11:00 am. What took us so long?
Reynolds: The cobia had probably been previously cast to and caught. We had to let the cobia settle down and give it enough baits to choose from to eat. Many times, you must be patient with the fish to get it to bite.

To reach Tim Reynolds, write him at 1599 A Bienville Blvd., Ocean Springs, MS, 39564, or email him at or

For more information on cobia fishing, to book a trip to fish for cobia and to learn about accommodations in Biloxi, call Bobby Carter, the manager of the Isle of Capri, at (228) 436-7928, or visit the website at You won’t find better food or nicer, more-spacious accommodations anywhere else than on the Isle of Capri.

Go to, or call 1-866-See-Miss (733-6477) for more information about Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

Tomorrow: Fishing Structure for Cobia

Check back each day this week for more about "Cobia Fishing with Mississippi's Cobia-Fishing Team Machine"

Day 1: The Jack-Up Rig
Day 2: Catching the Cobia
Day 3: Fishing Structure for Cobia
Day 4: Tagging the Cobia
Day 5: Switch-Hitting



Entry 410, Day 2