It may not mark the start of any tournament this year, but the first is still the first.

And Capt. Chris Wagner and the crew aboard the Full Pull will be out looking to catch that first cobia about the middle of next week.

For more than 15 years, the Destin Cobia Tournament at HarborWalk Marina began when the first cobia of the season was caught off the beach by a vessel registered in the tournament.

Not this year.

"It's tough to get participation and we were getting less and less boats and sponsors," said Greg Featherstone of HarborWalk Marina. "We did it for 16 years ... it's just not strong enough."

The news was “disheartening” to Wagner, but he said the Full Pull crew is not letting the lack of the HarborWalk event keep them from searching for that first cobia, which they've pulled in 10 times in the past 15 years.

"It's not nearly as urgent to get out there now," Wagner said. "We may go out the middle of the week or next weekend for sure.

The running of the cobia is a sign of spring for many Destin anglers, but recent cold snaps may mean a later start to the season this year as well.

"We're not going to push the envelope to go out and look," Wagner said. "It takes a lot of patience and investment in fuel. That first one is hard to catch."

However it's still something they plan on doing.

"It's been a fun thing to do for years," Wagner said. "It's always a celebration for us.”

He said if they catch one in the next week, they will bring it down to Harbor Docks, home of the Cobia World Championships, and weigh it in if the scales are up.

"We may even have them fry it up for us," he said.

Last year Capt. Curt Gwin and crew aboard the Only Way brought in the first cobia on March 16 to mark the start of tournament season.

Gwin says he hopes to go cobia fishing "somewhere around the 20th." Right now he is in the process of putting a cobia tower on his 34-foot Hatteras.

"I like the action in it," Gwin said of cobia fishing, which is all sight fishing.

Last year he said they saw about 50 or 60 fish.

"March was good and the beginning of April," he said. "But you never really know.”




Cobia World Championships

Harbor Docks

•Captains meeting: 6 p.m., March 22 at Harbor Docks.

•Entry fee: $250 (Overall World Champion, Junior World Champion, Ladies World Champion); $100 (28-foot and Under World Championships – Junior World Champion and Ladies World Champion).

•Tournament dates: March 23 – May 5.

•Weigh-in: Daily 4-8 p.m. at Harbor Docks. On May 5 weigh-in closes at 6 p.m.

•Awards ceremony: Follows final weigh-in, 6 p.m., on closing day, May 5 at Harbor Docks.


BluewaterBayMarina 18th Annual Cobia Tournament

BluewaterBay Marina

•Captains meeting: 6:30 p.m., March 25 at L.J. Schooners Dockside Restaurant and Oyster Bar.

•Entry fees: $150 for small boat division (29-feet and under), and $300 for open division (30-feet and above).

•Tournament dates: April 1 - 30.

•Weigh-in: Daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the marina.

•Awards ceremony: 6:30 p.m., May 6 at L.J. Schooners Dockside Restaurant and Oyster Bar.


Hog’s Breath Cobia Shootout

Hog’s Breath

•Captains meeting: 6:30 p.m., April 4 at Hog’s Breath Café.

•Entry fees: $550 on or before March 21, $600 after March 21.

•Tournament dates: April 5-6.

•Weigh-in: Daily from 5-8 p.m. behind Hog’s Breath.


Crab Cruncher Classic

Harbor Docks

•Captains meeting: 7 p.m., April 11 at Harbor Docks.

•Entry fee: $500.

•Tournament dates: April 11-14.

•Weigh-in: 4-8 p.m. April 13 and 14; 4-6 p.m., April 14.

•Awards ceremony: Follows closing of scales on Sunday.



Destin Charter Services

•Entry fee: $318 until March 31, and $371 from April 1-11.

•Tournament dates: April 12-14.

•Weigh-in: 4-8 p.m. April 12-13 at Destin Fishing Fleet Marina; noon to 6 p.m. on April 14.


Red Stripe Final F'Ling

AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar

•Captains meeting: 6:30 p.m., April 26 at AJ's.

•Entry fee: $500 until April 14, thereafter $600.

•Tournament dates: April 27-28.

•Weigh-in: 4-8 p.m. daily behind AJ's.

•Awards ceremony: 6:30 p.m., April 30 at AJ's.