John's Journal...

Cobia Fishing with Mississippi's Cobia-Fishing Team Machine

Tagging 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, why do you like flat, still water with no tide running, when you’re cobia fishing?
Reynolds: When there’s a dead tide, the cobia come to the top of the water column much-more readily. When the current’s ripping, the cobia will hold deeper in the water, and you have to use jigs to coax them to the surface. But I’ve found that fishing in the middle of the day, when there’s no tide, and the weather’s hot as blue blazes, we’ll catch more cobia than we will on pretty, breezy days when there is a tide. Cobia like the sun's warmth Click to enlargebeating on their backs.

Question: Tim, you and Dennis work with Professor Jim Franks, who’s doing cobia research for the University of Mississippi, don’t you?
Reynolds: Yes, we do. We tell him where we’re finding cobia and how many males and females we’re catching. We tag and release cobia for him. Oftentimes, in a season, we’ll tag and release 30 or 40 cobia.

Question: Have you ever caught a tagged cobia?
Reynolds: Yes, we’ve caught three or four. One of the fish we caught had been tagged more than one year ago. We caught it in the Atlantic Ocean, and apparently, it had traveled down the East Coast of Florida, gone around the tip of Florida and then up to the West Coast of Florida. We caught him in Biloxi, Mississippi. We tagged another fish one year, then caught and released itagain the following year.

Question: What have you learned about cobia from Professor Franks?
Reynolds: We’ve learned about their migration routes, including where the cobia move, when they move, and how they move. We’ve learned the temperature ranges these fish like and how quickly the fish grow. Jim Franks tells us what to look for and where to watch for schooling fish.
Question: The first thing this morning, we spotted two cobia, caught Click to enlargeone and caught and released a second one. We returned to the same rig this afternoon and caught another cobia. Do the rigs usually replenish themselves?
Reynolds: The rigs constantly replenish themselves with cobia throughout the day. You can fish a certain area of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and consistently catch cobia on the same rigs at different times of the day. The rigs are just a place for cobia to hold up in the shade and ambush the baitfish that feed around the rigs. The rigs are a stop-off point for the cobia, and the cobia can hold and feed there for a day or two as they swim through the Gulf.

During the day of cobia fishing, we were constantly on the move. Each time we’d come to a rig, Meins, Hamilton and Harris would start casting jigs to the rigs to locate cobia. If they didn’t catch a cobia on the jigs, they often would pull a cobia to the surface and then cast live bait to the cobia. In one day of fishing, we caught eight cobia that weighed from 30- to 60-pounds each, and we placed them in an ice chest. We caught-and-released three other cobia and had chances to catch five or six more cobia. Currently, the Gulf of Mexico is full of cobia here in June, but you must get out on the water early, have a fast boat and plenty of gas and be willing to fight the sun, the wind and the waves to catch them. During our day of cobia fishing, we ran more than 60-miles offshore and burned 230 gallons of gas and six quarts of oil. So, if you have your own boat, and you plan to go cobia fishing, realize that you must keep running to find and catch the fish. Click to enlarge

To enjoy success at cobia fishing, everyone in the boat must know their roles and be able to play them. Tim Reynolds’ job is to position the boat so the fishermen can cast to the oil and gas rigs where the cobia are holding. Once the cobia are hooked-up, he must use the boat to move the cobia away from the rig and then maneuver the boat to where the fish can be gaffed and placed into the boat. Hamilton must cast and retrieve jigs until he sees or catches cobia. If he hooks a cobia, he must keep the fish he hooked in the water near the surface to pull other cobia in the area up to where the other fishermen can see them and cast live bait to them. Once a second cobia is spotted, the other anglers will cast live bait to it. If a second fish is hooked-up, the remaining fisherman gaffs the first fish and then the second one. Reynolds and his team are like a well-oiled cobia-catching machine. They are the best I’ve ever seen at finding and catching these fine fish that are fun to catch and delicious to eat.

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: Switch-Hitting

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 4