Rick Thomas was headed out to catch baitfish for an afternoon charter on April 16 when he and his brother, Jimbo, spotted this big cobia just off Miami Beach. Less than 10 minutes later he had the 121-lb. fish in the boat and a pending IGFA line class world record in his pocket.
Rick and Jimbo operate Thomas Flyer Charters (www.thomasflyerfishing.com; 305-374-4133), running about 275 charters a year on their 42-foot fishing boat out of Miami Marina in downtown Miami. “We usually catch bait on our way out with a charter, but this day we decided to get bait in the morning.”
“A couple of the channel buoys around Government Cut will occasionally hold cobia this time of year,” Jimbo says, “and you’ll see them swimming up near the surface.” Government Cut, a man-made channel between Miami Beach and Fisher Island, is only about a mile from downtown.
“For the past couple of weeks we’ve been catching cobia around these buoys. We caught a 67-pounder, and a couple of 45-pounders. We’ve also hooked and lost some nice ones.” This 45-pounder is one that didn’t get away.
After losing several big cobia, including one that was considerably larger than the rest, the brothers decided to beef up their tackle, moving from spinning rods with 20-lb. test line to custom rigs fitted with Daiwa reels spooled with 50-lb. Berkley Big Game.
Rick tossed a pinfish on a Mustad 13/0 circle hook to this big cobia, and the fish came off the buoy to take the bait. After a three-minute fight, Rick had him to the boat. “Cobia typically come up relatively easy, but not that easy,” Jimbo says. “I looked at this thing and it looked like a shark. It was a monster.”
“Usually when you gaff ’em, that’s when all hell breaks loose,” Jimbo says, “but not so much this time. We’ve probably had 60-pounders fight harder.” But that doesn’t mean hauling him in was easy: As you can see, just holding up a 121-lb. Cobia is a tough job.
“Once we got him in the boat, we saw he had one of our hooks in his mouth from the week before,” Jimbo says. Looks like the switch to heavier tackle paid off.
The Miami natives grew up fishing south Florida, and they’ve been in the charter business for 30 years. This is the first record fish for either of them.
But they’ve caught plenty of nice fish before, including a 300-lb. swordfish …
… some nice African pompano …
… and gag grouper.
The cobia measured 62 inches long and 35.5 inches in girth.
When first weighed it topped 122 lbs. on a certified scale, but by the time the Thomas’s got the cobia officially weighed the next day, it had dropped to 121 lbs., 2 oz.
According to the IGFA, Thomas’s line break-tested at 62 lbs. Pending certification, Rick Thomas’s cobia will stand as the new 80-lb. class record, beating the existing record of 116 lbs., 8 oz., caught at Oregon Inlet, North Carolina, in 2006. The all-tackle world record is 135 lbs., 9 oz.