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May 09, 2011

By Doug Olander

Where world records wait - spring actions sweet off Destins sugar-sand beaches.
Cobia roam warm seas around the world. From northern Australia to the northern Gulf of Mexico, they're recognized as a fantastic food fish. Traditionally, unless required by local size restrictions, few have been tossed back. That's the case off Destin, where guide Pat Dineen laughs that catch-and-release generally takes a back seat to "catch-and-fillet."On the other hand, Dineen, like many local cobia enthusiasts, applauds the two-fish-per-angler daily limit and the 33-inch minimum fork length.
During the spring when cobia reign, most other fishing takes a backseat. But Destin has plenty going for it all year, including its regional renown as a top spot for really big sow red snapper and grouper. A number of charters along with larger private boats run to blue water while inshore, small boaters find good action from redfish, seatrout and other game fish.From the surf and jetties, pompano fishing can be superb; the past couple years have seen a dramatic resurgence of the tasty jacks.
"One great thing about cobia fishing here is that you can have a real shot at breaking a world record every time you go out." Already, most of the world's 100-plus-pound cobia in the record book come from the northern Gulf of Mexico. Capt. Donnie Brown - whose teenage daughter holds the women's 20-pound line-class record - figures that with increased skills and interest in catching cobia, still more records will fall out of Destin and nearby northern Gulf ports. Here's what it's going to take:ConventionalLine Class Weight (lbs-oz) Place Date Angler Bait or LureM - 2 lb.
Its a long run to the area where Florida Bay mingles with the Gulf - and worth it.
Where do they come from? Where do they go? Has anybody checked? Does anybody know? When vast schools of permit show up at the surface, 50 to 70 miles from the closest land, it's hard not to wonder about their movements. But the fact is that no major tagging studies have yet been undertaken that reveal much information on the movements of permit. What little is known suggests permit move offshore to spawn since scientists find their eggs offshore but not in estuarine waters.
To contact Capt. George Campbell, call 305-852-4287 or e-mail Bud Õn MaryÕs Fishing Marina in Islamorada can be reached at 305-664-2461 or by e-mail at For general Florida Keys information, including many guides and resorts, visit or call 1-800-FLA-KEYS. Private boaters will find useful Top Spot chart #N210, South Florida Offshore (which has a number of wrecks and towers marked) and/or NOAA nautical chart #11451 and 11452 (Miami to Marathon and Florida Bay and Alligator Reef to Sombrero Rocks).
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Take on the pit bull of flats, bays and offshore using light tackle and fly.