Cobia hunt has not begun, tournaments on tap

Tina Harbuck
Harri Hotti of Finland was all smiles as he talked about his cobia, the first in the Destin Cobia Tournament at HarborWalk Marina in 2018. Hotti caught the 72.6-pound ling while fishing aboard the Full Pull with Capt. Chris Wagner. [TINA HARBUCK/THE LOG]

By this time last year, the first cobia had been caught — a 72.6-pounder on March 5 aboard the Full Pull with Capt. Chris Wagner.

However, this year it appears the usual suspects have not begun the hunt.

The Full Pull crew, which is known for getting an early start in hopes of landing the first one, has not even been on the water.

Capt. Wagner said the boat is still at dry dock in Freeport due to unforeseen complications.

“This is our latest start ever,” Wagner said.

“It’s probably going to be the end of March before we get back in the water,” he said.

Nevertheless when the boat gets ready, Wagner said, "We'll be ready to rumble."

And as always, "I'm optimistic and hopeful for a good season," he added.

As for avid cobia fisherman Capt. John Tenore of the Dawn Patrol he says it’s still a little early for cobia. But the time is getting close.

“It’s usually the middle of the month when you see them,” Tenore said.

However, after the "not so good season" last year he doesn’t have any plans yet to get on the water to look for them.

“It’s supposed to blow later this week and get cold again this weekend,” he said.

Usually the prime water temperature for cobia to migrate through and move up closer to the beach is 65 to 68 degrees. As of Monday the water temperature was sitting at 64 degrees.

For those looking to get in on the cobia run this year, here’s a list of the upcoming cobia tournaments in the area.

Destin Cobia Tournament

HarborWalk Marina

• Captains Party: 6 p.m., March 25 at Emerald Grande Ballroom.

• Entry fees: $500 for overall division and $250 for 30-feet and under boats.

• Tournament dates: April 1-30.

• Weigh-in: Daily at HarborWalk Marina. Scales close at 7 p.m.

• Awards: TBA

Cobia World Championships

Harbor Docks

• Captains Party: 6 p.m., March 29 at Harbor Docks, BBQ dinner on the dock.

• Entry fees: $400 and $200 for 29-foot and under boats.

• Tournament dates: March 29 – May 6.

• Weigh-in: 4-8 p.m. daily at Harbor Docks

• Awards Party: 6 p.m., May 6 at Harbor Docks.

AJ’s Spring Fling Cobia Tournament

AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar

• Captains meeting/Kickoff party: 6:30 p.m., April 4 at AJ’s.

• Entry fee: $375 before March 29, $500 thereafter.

• Tournament dates: April 5-7.

• Weigh-in: 4-8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 4-6 p.m. on Sunday.

• Awards ceremony: Approximately an hour after the last fish is weighed on Sunday at AJ’s.

Crab Cruncher Classic

Harbor Docks

• Captains meeting/Kickoff party: 6 p.m. April 11.

• Entry fees: $750.

• Tournament dates: April 11-15.

• Weigh-in: 4-8 p.m. at Harbor Docks.

• Awards party: 6 p.m., April 15 at Harbor Docks.

Destin Flathead Classic

Boshamps Seafood and Oyster House

• Captains meeting/Kickoff party: 6 p.m., April 25 at Boshamps.

• Entry fee: Overall, $500; 26-feet and under, $250; Ladies, $100; Juniors, $100; and Pier Division, $50.

• Tournament dates: April 26-28.

• Weigh-in: 4-8 p.m. daily behind Boshamps on the harbor.

• Awards party: noon-8 p.m., April 28 at Boshamps.

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