It’s official. The 21st annual Destin Cobia Tournament at HarborWalk Marina has begun.
Harri Hotti of Finland weighed in a 72.6-pound cobia Monday to kick off the tournament, which starts when the first registered boat brings in a cobia caught off the beach.
Hotti was fishing aboard the Full Pull with Capt. Chris Wagner.
The Full Pull team, which includes Wagner and Capt. Andy Block, are no strangers to pulling in the first cobia of the season. They have done it more than a dozen times over the years. Last year, Glenn Hines was fishing with them and caught the first one on March 19. It weighed in at 58.4 pounds.
This year, however, they have set the bar high with a 72.6-pound cobia.
“It was very good fight,” Hotti said, apologizing for his English.
“Fish is very strong … water is warm. This 70-pound fish is nice,” he said.
This is Hotti’s fourth year to fish aboard the Full Pull for the cobia season.
“Me and Chris … this is second time we got first cobia. This is lucky team,” Hotti said with a smile.
"I'm the crazy fisherman from Finland," he laughed.
The last time Hotti caught the first cobia was in 2015, a 54.6-pounder on March 16.
Capt. Wagner said they left out fishing at about 7:30 a.m. Monday and headed west toward Navarre.
“We fished the bar all the way to Pensacola. The water was beautiful,” Wagner said.
When they got near the Portofino Island Resort at Pensacola Beach they spotted the elusive cobia.
“It was right on the bar where it’s supposed to be … absolutely beautiful,” Wagner said.
Using a ruby lip, which is a fin bait, he tossed it at the cobia, which was in about 20 feet of water.
“It missed it a couple of times, then it swirled around on it and ate it,” Wagner said.
Wagner said at first it looked as if the cobia didn’t know it was hooked.
“It kind of followed us around,” he said.
But once they got the fish offshore a bit, it went down deep and ripped off about 100 yards of line, Wagner said.
“We had to back up on it … then it finally came back on top,” he said.
All in all, it took about 15 to 20 minutes to get the cobia on board.
“It was a good fight, that’s how I figured it was a good fish,” Wagner said.
After they boated the fish, they headed back to Destin and were at the scales by about 1:15 p.m.
Wagner said it was the first and only cobia they saw.
When asked if they were going to go again on Tuesday, he said no.
“We’ll probably get back out by the weekend,” Wagner said.
“I’m ready every day,” Hotti added.