Slammer Cobia Caught Where They’re Not Supposed to Exist

A Connecticut angler thought he was hooked up to a shark, until a friend clued him in that he’d boated a regionally rare fish—and a likely state record cobia.

Connecticut record cobia
John Bertolasio with his stud Connecticut cobia. Courtesy Connecticut Fish and Wildlife

The fish was tough and deep, and even though Connecticut angler John Bertolasio thought he was battling a shark, he stayed the course and boated the fish. It took 90 minutes to land it, which Bertolasio still believed to be a heavyweight shark.

Until he sent a photo of his catch to a buddy.

“John did not know what he had caught until he sent the picture of the fish to a friend,” according to a Facebook Post from Connecticut Fish and Wildlife (DEEP). “Once he found out it was legal (and good eating), he kept it.”

Bertolasio used a live eel bait on Long Sand Shoal to dupe the fish. Then he battled the 44-pound cobia for 1.5 hours, even breaking his fishing rod in the process when the fish made a deep, straight down run.

The DEEP reports that Bertolasio’s cobia unofficially measured 54-inches long and weighed 44-pounds.

Cobia are so rare in the Northeastern U.S., that the DEEP saltwater record fish listing doesn’t even mention cobia. The species is so infrequently caught off Connecticut that the state relegates the species to an “Exotic Marine Species Category”.

There, the official Connecticut record for cobia is an 18-pounder, caught in 2008 by anger Nicholas Carafeno off East Haven. Once Bertolasio has his cobia’s weight certified on proper scales and fills out state record paperwork, his fish should easily be the top cobia ever caught in the state.

Long Sand Shoal where Bertolasio caught his fish is located in the Connecticut portion of Long Island Sound. Long Sand Shoal stretches six miles from east to west, paralleling the towns of Old Saybrook and Westbrook, Connecticut and 1.5 miles south of Cornfield Point.

Cobia are a popular and much sought after fish wherever they’re found, which usually is in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico region. There, 20 to 40 pounders are caught regularly, and fish pushing 100 pounds are occasionally taken.

Their demeanor, size and swimming style is very shark-like, and they commonly are mistaken for the toothy predators. Cobia, however, do not have such fearsome dentures, but are very strong fighters on hook and line.

The IGFA All-Tackle World Record cobia weighed a remarkable 135-pounds, 9-ounces, caught off Shark Bay, Australia in 1985 by Jarvis Walker using a mullet bait.

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