The best bait for cobia can often be anything you have rigged up when a pod pops up. They are aggressive and getting anything in front of them as soon as possible will often trigger that bite.
Cobia have an enormous appetite and quench it with a good deal of fresh prey. Any normal bait you used to tackle other species will work. However, cobia are different and love to prey on some specialized meals as well that you should use when targeting them.
Traditional Cobia Baits
Cut open a cobias stomach and the most food you will find is crabs. They are the most eaten prey of cobia and the most used bait for cobia. You can even use artificial crabs, but without a doubt, the live ones will produce more.
Use the crabs however necessary to get in front of the cobias. Floating in current, sight fishing, or sinking them down to reefs. As long as you get it in their face it will be hard for any cobia nearby to refuse.
It’s hard to find a game-fish that won’t eat a shrimp, including cobia. This is a great go-to bait because of the price and availability of shrimp and its universal use. Shrimp is so easy to rig and quickly get out in front of an approaching cobia.
Unlike crabs, there’s no hard shell to penetrate when rigging. When time is of the essence, this makes a difference. Use the shrimps just as you would a crab just be a little more cautious when casting as they fly off hooks easier.
Cobia and mullet are no strangers. They follow each other when moving throughout the year. It’s no coincidence that cobia eat an easily presented meal of mullet. Whether live bait or artificial, anything resembling a mullet will get devoured.
A good paddle tail works in a pinch and when you’re running low on bait, you can even use the mullet as cut bait for cobia. Nothing works better than live baitfish. What’s best about mullet is there easy to find and catch yourself with a cast net.
Pinfish are also a great live bait for cobia. Use them the same way you would use mullet. Pinfish are sometimes better when sight fishing for cobia, but your mileage may vary. Mostly if they will eat the mullet, they will eat the pinfish too.
Specialty Cobia Baits
Plain and simple, cobia love eels. It’s as if they have a favorite dessert that they can’t resist whether they are hungry or full. Some bait shops will carry eels and in peak season, but they are pricey. I say it’s worth it, but not always necessary.
Use the eels just about anywhere for cobia but be cautious on reefs. They will still produce cobia however they often find there way into hiding as they do so well naturally. This can cause no bites and increased “stuck in the rocks”.
Catfish are a bit of a secret to the die-hard cobia fisherman. Like eels, they seem to be a cobias favorite snack that is irresistible more often than not. They take more work to catch and prep for safe use.
Once you get all the back end work complete, you have strong bait. You can cast catfish over and over, unlike mullet. If you’re not afraid of a little work catfish could easily become your favorite cobia bait after a single trip.
Next, learn the Best Tarpon Baits!