By Lee Williams

I started to get worried that I was going to strike out again. I'd been trying to hook and land a big cobia on my kayak for eight years. I'd caught as many as three a day, but never gotten one over 34 inches.

Matt Lusk and I were optimistic as we paddled to North Carolina's Diamond Shoals. We gotten a report of masses of migrating cobia stacking up off the point the day before, but the only fish we spotted was a hammerhead shark. So we paddled offshore, probably putting in five or six miles before we headed toward the Rodanthe Pier, where the charter fleet was hooking up.

Conditions were calm enough that we could stand on the wide-beam kayaks, and about two miles from shore, we spotted six fish coming at us. I hooked one, but the white bucktail pulled loose, only to get slammed again right next to the kayak. The powerful fish dove for the bottom, and I cranked down on the drag to keep it from cutting off on the structure below.

Unfortunately, I put so much heat on the fish that I actually hurt my back, so I eventually had to loosen the drag just to take the pressure off me instead of the fish. I don't like to gaff cobia, as that makes them crazy, and there's nothing more destructive than a berserk cobia on a kayak deck. Unfortunately, I didn't have a net either, so I grabbed the jig with one hand, put my leg under the big fish, and swept it into my lap. Despite the size and strength of the fish—it measured 57 inches and probably weighed 60 pounds—I managed to haul it aboard my Ocean Ultra 4.3 in 15 minutes.