The northerly bait migration is in full swing along the west central gulf coast. King and Spanish mackerel, bonita, grouper, cobia, tarpon and the oddball sailfish are excellent prospects fishing any time near the massive schools of bait.

Flats cobia: Snook, redfish, trout and tarpon are the glamor species, but for several weeks each spring, cobia are the crown jewels of the flats. Often mistaken for small sharks, cobia can be sight fished on light tackle. They provide relentless and powerful fights and stand second to none as table fare.

Pro logic: The first showings of cobia are often on the nearshore wrecks, then just off the beaches and inshore channel markers. As the water warms, large southern stingrays make their way onto the shallow flats. Large rays stir up the bottom as they glide over shallow water and cobia trail to feed on small crustaceans in their wake. Trailing cobia may not always be visible. Anchor in areas these rays are frequenting, deploy a block of ground chum and suspend a palm-sized pinfish under a cork to produce cobia that are often cruising outside your line of sight.

Robert McCue may be reached at GiantTarpon.com or (800) 833-0489.