The turtles know where cobia run

First mate Tommy Banachowicz gets a gaff in Sports Editor Tina Harbuck’s cobia and hauls it over the side of the Finest Kind.

I landed a ling on my first-ever cobia outing — with a little help from a turtle.

Last week I had the privilege to go along with Capt. Tommy Browning and crew aboard the Finest Kind and try my luck at cobia fishing.

Leaving the docks at 8 a.m., long-time first mate Tommy Banachowicz was on the back deck of the boat getting all the reels, lures and baits ready for the day’s adventure.

We headed east and traveled slowly, about 300-yards off the beach, in search of cobia. Myself along with the other three guys on the back deck were told to look for turtles, which cobia like to hang out around.

For years I've talked to captains and they've told me how when they would spot a sea turtle and all off a sudden the cobia would just pop out around it — now I understand.

After making it down the beach, near the Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, we finally spotted a turtle.

The turtle was pretty big and close to the boat, so I immediately walked over to that side of the boat to take a photo with my phone when all craziness broke loose.

In a matter of seconds, before I could even come close to snapping a photo, cobia popped up everywhere around the  turtle, and Banachowicz who was on lookout from the tower had a jig in the water.

What was a calm ride down the beach — turned into a "Chinese fire drill" with everybody running around on the back deck trying to tie on gut busters to be able to handle the rod better when reeling in a fish. Banachowicz hooked one and handed the rod off below to Tommy Lee Browning and then me, and the fight was on. In the meantime, there were other cobia around, it seemed within gaffing distance from the boat.

I was reeling in mine while they were trying to get a hook in one of the others. Banachowicz came down out of the tower, put a gaff in my fish and hauled it over the side.

We circled back around several times trying to find that turtle and the bigger cobia that got away, but to no avail.

Some may call it beginners luck, but I call it fishing with the Finest.

See you on the docks.