Sight-fishing for tasty ling

Don’t leave any structure unturned in search of curious cobia

It is no secret that I am a sight-fishing addict. The passion of seeing my prey before pitching a lure or bait to it is one that has only gotten stronger as I have gotten older.

As we begin to enter into the fall in late September, naturally, there will begin to be a decrease in the number of anglers on the water as they start to prepare their duck blinds and get things in order on their deer leases. However, fishing opportunities inshore and nearshore abound.

One of my all time favorite species to sight-cast to is the cobia, aka ling. From a sportsman’s perspective, they are a very worthy adversary due to their size and fighting capabilities. On trout-fishing setups, they provide a real challenge as they strip drag and threaten to cut your line on the structures that we usually find them investigating. They also make excellent table fare, an added bonus to how much fun they are to catch.

We search all standing and floating structures near shore for ling, similar to fishing for tripletail. I have had much more success locating and catching them off working rigs than those sitting idle and out of commission. Buoys that have a bell are typically more productive than those that do not; ling like both structure and some sort of noise or commotion. When pulling up to a rig or other structure, I will slowly idle around it multiple times, making sure to have an angler with a rod ready to pitch if any fish are spotted. Many times, the ling will swim out from the structure to investigate the boat. Fortunately for us in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas, there are still many rigs and gas wells to fish, although many have been removed.

What to use

If using artificial, I like to rig up either a 6- or 8-inch chartreuse Gulp! saltwater grub on a ¾-ounce jighead. Live blue crab, shrimp, croaker and piggy perch are also great choices. Dead cigar minnows or pogies work as well. My grandfather’s favorite way to catch ling was to use live, hardhead catfish. He would take catfish, about 8 to 12 inches long, and clip their fins before rigging them to use for bait.

When sight-casting, try to avoid bring the lure or bait from directly behind the fish, as more often than not, this will spook them instead of attracting them. It is best if you can bring the bait from in front or from the side of the ling; avoid landing the bait to close to the fish, which will help prevent from spooking them. If they go down deeper, out of sight, spraying the water with your wash-down hose may help to peak their curiosity and bring them back up near the surface for another opportunity.

Capt. Adam Jaynes can be reached at (409) 988-3901 or

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