There are only a few things that get my blood pumping quite like sight casting to cobia. Just spotting one will key your jitters, but once you’re hooked up the rodeo has truly begun. Now, I’m not going to pretend like I’m a subject matter expert, because I’m not. But I can tell you this; with two seasons under my belt, I’m beginning to understand the obsession many anglers have with this species. Scanning the water from an elevated platform is addicting, the fight is unparalleled, and the quality of meat will leave opposing political extremists with something to agree on. Cobia are the whole damn package.


flies in a fly box
Perusing the fly box. Photo: Kirk Marks (@kirkymarks)

If you’ve got the funds, a tower boat is the ideal rig for chasing “The Man in the Brown Suit.” But if you don’t have that kind of cash laying around, no need to worry. With a ladder, a few ratchet straps, and some good old fashioned ingenuity you can transform damn near any boat into a makeshift tower boat. If you don’t take a shine to either of those options, there’s a booming guide industry happy to help. Please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram for guide recommendations in the Chesapeake Bay area.

sight fishing with a beer
Staying hydrated while on the hunt. Photo: Kirk Marks (@kirkymarks)

Eating my first bite of cobia was almost as memorable as getting my first one to the boat – both experiences left me craving more. Cobia flesh is white, flakey, buttery, and it doesn’t have a strong fishy flavor. It flakes along multiple cleavage planes and lends itself to many different cooking applications. Not to mention, the yield on a cobia is substantial. This simple pan-fried preparation showcases the true flavor of the fish without overcrowding it.

cobia fish
My good friend, Jonathan Bland, with a solid cobia. Photo: Kirk Marks (@kirkymarks)

After all this talk, I’d be remiss to not do some PR work on behalf of cobia. Like many gamefish, female cobia grow larger than their male counterparts. Simply put, the larger the fish, the greater likelihood it’s a female, and the larger the female, the more eggs she’ll produce. Big mature females play a vital role, as they are the most prolific spawners within the breeding stock. Please consider releasing cobia over 50” to ensure resource viability for years to come, even if it’s not enforced by the local fish and game agency. When it comes down to it, mindful anglers with a self-regulated ethos can do a lot of good. Now that I’ve said my piece, let’s get down to business.

pan seared cobia meal
Bon Appetit. Photo: Kirk Marks (@kirkymarks)

Pan-Fried Cobia:

Ingredients:

  • 1lb cobia fillet, cut into 3-4oz pieces
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Method:

  1. Combine all spices, then evenly coat the fillets.
  2. Bring a sauté pan to medium-low heat, then add the butter and oil. Once the butter has fully melted, carefully swirl the pan a couple times to evenly distribute the butter and oil, then add the fish.
  3. Fry the fillets for approximately 5-6 minutes per side, then remove.

Potato & Red Pepper Hash:

Ingredients:

  • 3 large potatoes, cut into 0.5” cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method:

  1. Combine the potatoes, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, cooking oil, and all of the spices into a bowl. Place a lid on the bowl and shake the contents thoroughly to evenly distribute the spices. This mixture will now be referred to as the hash.
  2. Bring a sauté pan to medium heat, then add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the hash, then cover the pan with a lid.
  3. Cook for approximately 6 minutes, remove the lid, and stir the hash. Keep the lid off and continue cooking for an additional 6-8 minutes, rearranging the hash periodically. Once the potatoes can be easily punctured with a fork and have developed a golden brown crust, remove.

Lemon Butter Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 0.25 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 0.5 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • Coarse sea salt, just a pinch
  • 0.25 stick of butter, cold
  • 1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped

Method:

  1. In a sauce pan over high heat add the lemon juice, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Reduce the volume by half. Once reduced, decrease to medium heat.
  2. Slowly incorporate the butter. Cut the 0.25 stick of butter into 4 equal pieces and add them to the pan one by one, stirring while they melt. Be sure to use cold butter to prevent the sauce from splitting.
  3. Once the butter has been incorporated into the sauce, add the chives to finish. Serve immediately.
cobia fish recipe
Pan-Fried Cobia over Potato & Red Pepper Hash with Lemon Butter Sauce. Photo: Kirk Marks (@kirkymarks)

Until next time, enjoy and good luck out there!

Article by Kirk Marks, an angler, photographer, and culinary aficionado based in Kent Island, Maryland. Give him a follow at @kirkymarks. 

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