Capt Tris October 2009 Fishing Report
There is more to see than meets the eye when watching a good catch of cobia come across the dock. It is most likely that the cobia were swimming with thousand pound manta rays earlier in the day and this unique relationship of cobia and ray is a fisherman’s dream come true!
The Treasure Coast has been blessed this year with a cobia bite like none we’ve seen in recent history and the proliferation of mantas migrating past our shores is hugely responsible for the success we have all enjoyed. This year’s sightings of mantas and cobia lead me to wonder why we have been so fortunate and whether this phenomenon will continue. Climate change is the first explanation that comes to mind, but that’s a discussion for another time. Let's delve a little deeper into the life and habits of the enigmatic manta for starters.
Mantas have a life span of 20 yrs. and frequent tropical waters around the world and they roam the waters of the southern US, Bermuda, Mexico, S. America, India, Africa, Australia, and more. Smooth skin ranging in color from a dark brown to grayish blue or black and a white underside is typical in mantas. At 3000 lbs, the wing span of an adult averages 22 feet. With large cephalic lobes on either side of their mouths to channel nutrient rich water, these filter feeders funnel vast amounts of plankton and the occasional small fish into their gaping mouths. While their acrobatic aerial maneuvers have little to do with feeding, their underwater loops are an effort to remain in a plankton rich area and take advantage of that food supply.
Those of you who fished the last week of Aug and first week of Sept will remember seeing this ‘loop’ technique and might also have noticed a dramatic range in size from one manta to the next.
‘Ovoviviparous’ reproduction allows for only one pup a season, but fully formed, with a 50 inch wing span and weighing in at 20 lbs, a newborn manta is ready to take care of itself. A manta’s only natural predators are large sharks. This being said, they are considered a delicacy in the Philippines, but are otherwise rarely hunted in today’s world. Their unique beauty and elegance equates to ‘dive tourism’ in locations where they can be reliably encountered and makes them a resource to some.
In spite of all this and their relatively carefree existence, the World Conservation Union categorizes their status as threatened. Our interest, of course, is in their continued and frequent appearance on the Treasure Coast and it seems that this marine behemoth has a mind of it’s own. When seeking out 'cobia by way of manta' your ‘best bet’ is to keep tabs on the local bite. Network with fishing buddies, tackle stores and read the daily fishining reports in your local paper to know when the rays are around and the cobia bite is on. I’ll see you out there the next time they show!
Look for seasonal changes to bring mullet to our beaches in Sept & Oct. Kings will be lurking in their vicinity. The dolphin bite has shown signs of picking up in mid Sept. and with offshore weedlines beginning to form from stronger easterly winds, mahi should make a more enthusiastic appearance offshore of the bar in Oct. Kings and sails will continue to add to that offshore mix.