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Alabama's cobia run - Gulf Shores, Alabama

Cobia even can be caught from the fishing pier at Gulf Shores State Park.
Cobia even can be caught from the fishing pier at Gulf Shores State Park.
Jimmy Jacobs

The waters around Gulf Shores, Alabama are famous for hosting a springtime cobia run. These fish, also known as ling or lemonfish, come very near the shore and get quite big.

Cobia run just off the beaches in Gulf Shores.
Jimmy Jacobs

The spring migration begins in South Florida and moves west along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Ordinarily the fish reach the Bama coast around the first of March and continue passing through as late as the middle of May. This year, however, the run has been a bit delayed by cold weather. This week should find some of the fish still near shore.

Cobia up to 100 pounds can be found at this time from a mile offshore to just beyond the second sandbar off the beach. That makes them easily within range of anglers in small boats.

Cobia feed on crabs, squid, shrimp and other fish. They are capable of gobbling down 2- to 3-pound bluefish and little tunny. Any of those type bait offerings can catch them, as will imitations of that forage.

One of the factors making this fishing attractive is the cobia swim just under the surface. That makes sight casting to the fish possible. Boats idle along just off the beach with anglers peering ahead to find the big fish.

Another appeal of cobia is their fine taste on the dinner table. Even the largest fish provide delectable fillets.

One place shore bound anglers can tangle with cobia on the Alabama coast is from the fishing pier in Gulf State Park at Gulf Shores. This pier stretches out beyond the surf, putting fisherman out where the cobia cruise.

Of course, recent record rainfall and flooding may make it hard to reach the pier or to launch a boat, but the cobia still are likely to be just offshore if you can get to them.