Interviewed by Charles Morgan III
How long has Harbor Docks been in the cobia tournament business?
The first Crab Cruncher was in 1988.
When did you catch your first cobia?
In 1992. It weighed 27 pounds. I was seven years old. I caught it on the Hey Baby when the boat was still painted yellow.
You still like cobia fishing?
Sometimes enough to do it 44 days in a row.
Do you have one of those bumper stickers that says “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work”?
I don’t have any bumper stickers on my truck.
Well, what about the sentiment?
No. I’ve had some really bad days fishing and some days where I’ve made a lot of money at work. So no.
What is it about cobia fishing that makes it so special to a rather small group of anglers? A lot of people don’t care for it, yet for some anglers it’s the only kind of fishing that appeals to them.
Anybody can catch a cobia. But to do it consistently, you have to be good at it. Almost every skill involved in fishing is required in cobia fishing. You’ve got to see the fish, present bait to it, and fight it. People around here are good at it, and they take a lot of pride in their abilities.
What’s the biggest cobia you’ve caught?
Eighty-two-point-eight pounds. That fish was second in the World Championships in 2007.
What’s your favorite stretch of beach to catch cobia?
Wherever the fish happen to be.
What’s your favorite bait?
It’s fun to catch ‘em on a jig. But it’s hard to find one that won’t eat a chofer.
When do you think the first one will be caught this year?
When did you take over the cobia tournaments at Harbor Docks?
March of 2009.
Participation in the tournaments had been dwindling to that point. What changed it?
Hard work. Showing people that I cared about it. I called a bunch of fishermen I respected and asked them what I could do to improve the tournaments.
Your tournaments are far more popular now. What do you expect this year?
It should be along the lines of the last three or four years. We should have about 90 boats in the World Championships and 40 in the Crab Cruncher.
You banned fad fishing from the tournaments last year. Why? And how has it worked out?
For one thing, putting fads in the water is illegal. Also, it takes a lot of the skill out of cobia fishing. The tournaments are about who can catch the most cobia, not who can put out the most fads. It’s worked out very well. Way more positive comments than negative ones.
These tournaments do more than just provide people with an excuse to fish. What economic impact do they have on this area?
Charter boats can pick up trips because of the tournaments. Private boats, particularly for the Crab Cruncher, come from all over. They rent slips, condos, eat in local restaurants, and buy fuel and tackle. We raise a considerable amount of money every year that allows us to host the Take a Kid Fishing Day every year on the first Sunday in November.
Who do you fish with?
Kevin Moak and Goose and whoever rides with us on the PAPI.
What kind of year do you expect in 2017 in terms of fish?
I don’t know. I hope it’s a good one. A lot of times a good year for one boat is a bad one for another. A couple hundred yards in one direction or another can make all the difference. You ask the guys on the Blanchita—last year was a great year.
If you only had one direction to fish, which would it be?
I’d take a right every time.
What’s your wish for this year’s tournaments?
To win them all.
Where does that leave the rest of us?
In second place.
The 2017 Cobia World Championships at Harbor Docks are March 24-May 8. Daily weigh-ins take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Discover more at www.cobiaworldchampionships.com.
- A Taste of Puerto Rico in Fort Walton Beach
- New Orleans Chef Kevin Belton Dances Into Pensacola This Fall
- Restaurant Guide
- Where to Spend Your Happy Hours in Beachcomberland
- Behind the In-Between: Towne
- Friendship, Fun and Music
- Live Music
- The Pauseandplay.com Record Roundup
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