Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 39 No 2 - Spring 2015 - Page 29

The Fly Guy by Pete Cooper, Jr. Try a Pipe for Cobia T he first legal-sized cobia I caught on a fly came from a “pipe”. Later that morning I was to catch a much larger speciman that would end up earning me the Louisiana Outdoor Writers’ Association’s prestigious “Fish Of The Year Award” for 1994. Pipes – at times – can draw these fish just as strongly as any other offshore petroleum platform, and they offer a very viable fly-fishing opportunity. One really good reason is that a pipe has only one sub-surface obstacle for a hooked fish to cut your line on. Another is that if you stick virtually anything into the bed of an otherwise fairly featureless ocean – and have it rise all the way to the surface – it is lifetime guaranteed to attract fish. Cobia are quite prone to such an attraction. Finally, the fish are often found on the surface near one, thereby allowing you to pick your target. That, incidentally, is pretty hard to beat in the sight-fishing department! Here’s the drill. Approach the pipe from up-current. Begin a drift from a bit less than 50 yards and on a line that will permit the boat to pass some 30 to 40 feet from it – no more! If there are fish on the surface, you should be able to see them plainly. Pick the one you want, then place the fly no more than three feet up-current of it and immediately begin steady, moderately fast strips. And always be ready to snatch the fly from a smaller fish that is moving to intercept it! If no fish are obvious on the surface, swing the boat around to a point where you can make a similar drift down the other side of the pipe. Do this only after you have checked the water around the boat, and especially near the outboard’s lower unit, for any fish that have decided to check you out. If nothing has been detected on that drift, then move back to a point up-current of the pipe, and while the helmsman holds the boat in place, make a few blind-casts to it, dropping the fly some 10 feet, or so, short and allowing it to drift back towards the pipe as it sinks. When you guess it has gotten close enough, then strip it back fast – and be prepared for a sudden, vicious strike that may occur right at the boat! Three or four casts like this will usually determine if anybody who’s willing is at home. If you have not generated a response, move the boat to the downcurrent side of the pipe and prospect it. This time, place the fly tightly to the structure and immediately begin the retrieve. It might take two or three presentations like that for the fly to get a fish’s attention, so don’t get impatient. If there has still been no response to your efforts, then revert to Plan B – which you can begin with if you really want to. Have the helmsman move the boat back to the up-current side of the pipe, and while he holds it some 30 feet away, have another crew-member break out the chunking material, pogies and cigar minnows being quite effective. Five or six handfuls of thumb-sized chunks, dispensed some 15 to 20 seconds apart, should let you know for certain if that pipe is worth the time, or if you need to try another one. If fish are present, it is likely they will come in all sizes. Therefore, I don’t recommend any blind casting, since it seems that you are likely to be tussling with a baby when a beast appears. Wait until a suitable target presents itself, then put the fly, once again, a short distance up-current of it. And, when you hook up – in any of these scenarios, quickly determine which side of the pipe the fish has run around and follow it to safe water ASAP! Never have I had a cobia that I hooked around a pipe initially run towards the boat. But that aside, everyone aboard should be prepared for the boat’s sudden acceleration. You might imagine that this requires some fairly stout tackle, and it does, though my old ‘podnuh’, Bubby, got a nice one – his first legal-sized fly caught cobia – on an 8-weight outfit that he had mistakenly brought along that morning. While I have taken a few in this setting on 10 weight – which is just fine when fishing open-water rips for these fish, I much preferred a 12 when we went “pipeprospecting”. For sure, you aren’t going to stop a good fish