Cape Lookout is in the middle of some of North Carolina’s best waters to dial up a spring cobia. The hook that forms the cape serves almost as a landing net to hold millions of menhaden and cobia along their northern migration.

While many cobia continue to the Chesapeake Bay to spawn, a significant portion will short-stop in the Cape Lookout area, which makes these waters fantastic when the fish arrive. 

“As the water warms, we see them move in from wrecks and reefs into 20 to 40-foot water on bait balls,” said Dave Stewart of Knee Deep Custom Charters. “They tend to stage in the area between Bogue Inlet and Cape Lookout throughout the spring run when they come in close.” 

In addition to bait balls, Stewart will look for fish suspended near buoys, sea turtles and stingrays in these same areas. 

“We look over these situations to make sure there isn’t a fish working these objects, and we’ll even make a few blind casts to make sure before we head to the next location,” he said. 

Spring cobia can be quite predictable. Bait balls will typically serve several adult cobia, and a smart angler can come back to these same areas and hook up from day to day. 

“If I find them in an area one day, I will be back in the same spot the next day as long as the water cooperates,” he said.

Spring cobia fishing is primarily a spot-and-stalk deal, so deteriorating sea conditions create plenty of visual obstacles and can make cobia skittish. 

Stewart likes to pitch brightly colored artificial lures at cobia he spots;  they’ll often trigger a strike more quickly than live bait. A soft-plastic bait under a heavy popping-cork rig with a 5-inch swim bait is hard to beat, but he is excited to try out a new lure this spring that he feels will turn cobia on very quickly. 

“This year, D.O.A. came out with a new lure called the Sna-Koil that looks like an eel that springs back and forth. Cobia love eels, and I believe it is going to be deadly for sight-casting in spring,” said Stewart, who intends on using the bait on a jighead and free-cast toward cruising fish or worked in concert with a popping-cork rig.