Maybe I should be embarrassed to say how many times I've sat, anchored up, chumming for hours on end or how many miles I've paddled around searching without success. But perhaps that's also a testament to how difficult it can be to find, hook, and land a kayak cobia in our waters. This is the sixth year I've been chasing Virginia cobia from a kayak and if I had to guess, there are over fifteen trips that I have not written about because there wasn't much to share. The long drives back to Richmond let me reflect on what I learned each time, which I kept to myself.
From Buckroe and Grandview, Bluefish Rock, CBBT, to Sandbridge and The Humps, I've seen and chased, helped friends land theirs, and swallowed disappointment after disappointment. I've tossed bucktails and lively eels in front of monsters only to be rejected. The amount of money I've spent on chum makes my stomach churn. Charter trips on boats were fun and helped me understand the fish, but that personal satisfaction of finding them on my own and going toe to toe my way has been a burning desire a long time.
Last week, that desire was met with an enjoyable 38"er followed by a shit-eating grin. But the thing is, that desire came back by the time I got to shore. And it came back burning hotter than before. By the time the next weekend came around, I made sure everything at home was in good order for me to go on another hunt for Mr. Brown.
The wind was not in our favor but Jeff and I trekked out anyway. I resisted the urge to bring sheepshead and spadefish gear knowing I would probably be tempted to cut into my cobia searching. We kept our eyes peeled the entire time. At one point, I looked back to see a little 2 footer following just a few feet behind my stern. I tossed the RonZ but he disappeared. A few minutes later he was back there again so I tossed a live eel but he disappeared again. Not too long after that, I found what I was looking for. Actually about 7 or 8 of what I was looking for. Before I could react two of the bigger ones came right at me and tucked themselves under the kayak. Four maybe five of the others were following close behind and one of them ate the eel. As soon as it hit, it dove straight down then spun me around while peeling off a good bit of line.
I was already in between piling sets and I tried to keep it that way while regaining as much line as I could. As the fight went on, it ended up between the two bridges and I finally let out a smile. The rest of the fight was a vertical tug of war with impressive run after run. I pulled him up to the surface a couple of times only for it to explode, haul ass back down, and show that power I was hoping to feel.
After about 13 minutes (I hit record about 10 seconds after the hookset) it was getting tired. Shortly after, I grabbed the leader, saw that the hook was in a good spot and took the hammer to the dome... a lot.
Once I got him on deck and saw the spikes on it's back twitching, I hammered some more for good measure.
Last weeks 38"er made me ecstatic, but this 51"er was more of what I had in mind as the top part of my iceberg illusion. All that time, sacrifice, disappointment, failure along with the persistence, hard work and dedication mentioned at the beginning is what nobody sees. I guess only I will really understand the size of that struggle below the surface, but let me tell ya, it feels pretty damn good to show off the tip of this iceberg. I know it's not a giant, but I couldn't be more happy.
The twisted part is...
As soon as I started paddling back, I wanted more.
There it was right in my lap...
what I've been wanting for so long...
and all I can think about is when can I get back out again for another.