Neil Smith thought for a second he might have caught another jack crevalle as he and friends fished behind a shrimp boat about 70 miles southwest of Cypremort Point last week.
Little did he know he had just hooked the potential new No. 6-ranked cobia for the state record books on a pink curly-tail jig in the Vermillion Blocks.
While cobia are often curious and appear to be attracted to noise, Smith didn't see this one until after he was hooked and broke the surface last Wednesday around midday.
“It was probably about 50-feet down when he smoked the jig. As soon as I hooked it, it started running out,” said Smith, a 19-year-old petroleum engineering student at UL. “Right there was a dead giveaway that it was a ling. He came up, made a circle and jumped twice.
“That was pretty scary because we thought he’d shake the hook.”
After about a 25-minute battle, they finally brought the big ling aboard the ‘Whoa Daddy,’ the 36-foot Invincible Smith was fishing on.
“We knew he was big, but we didn’t think he was that big,” Smith said. “When we put him on the deck, he definitely grew.”
Smith wasn’t sure how big the cobia was, but thought he might have a chance at making the record books.
“I knew if he was a hundred pounds, he was something special,” Smith said. “As soon as I got cell phone service around Southwest Pass, I was checking it out. I told my friend, ‘If he’s 93 (pounds) he should make the Top 10.
“‘If he’s a hundred, he’ll be close to Top 5 and we need to get him weighed.’”
When he bottomed-out a scale at a neighbor’s camp at 100 pounds, Smith brought the cobia to the certified scales at Dago’s in Lydia, where he weighed-in officially at 101.3 pounds.
If certified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, Smith’s cobia will be the new No. 6-ranked fish in the state, and the first addition to the ling Top 10 since May, 2000.
The cobia measured 59 inches long from its nose to the fork in its tail and had a girth of 33 inches, he said.
“A measurement that stuck out to me the most was it was 16 inches from the top tip of his tail to the bottom tip of his tail,” Smith said with a laugh. “You could fit a legal redfish right there.”
Smith caught the fish on a Star custom rod and a Penn spinning reel spooled with 80-pound PowerPro braid and an 80-pound mono leader.
The big ling already has been cleaned, but Smith said he plans on getting a fiberglass replica made to commemorate the catch.
The crew also caught another 85-pound cobia last Thursday along a weed line, Smith said.