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“There’s nothing like it,” says Brian Freeman. “When you see one cruise by, the hardest part is controlling your emotions and making the right cast.”

Freeman, a fishing guide at Brays Island Plantation, grew up on these creeks and he’s talking about sight fishing for cobia—an addictive experience that is unique to this pocket of the Lowcountry. Cobia, typically weighing in at 15-25 pounds, are an offshore favorite, but late in April run to Brays’ shallows to spawn—and feed on most anything.

“We’ve done some research, and DNA tests show that this is a special group of cobia that migrate from Northeast Florida,” says Freeman. “Why they come here is debatable but when you hook one on the fly rod, it’s life-changing.”

When it comes to fishing cobia, 68 degrees is the magic water temperature, particularly between April and June. If there’s one fly pattern you want, it’s a flashtail whistler that Freeman picks up from Bay Street Outfitters in downtown Beaufort. They’ll also chase shrimp patterns or flashy purple flies that are stripped aggressively. “Cobia aren’t picky, so focus on presentation,” says Freeman.

Each May, Freeman and his team host a cobia tournament for owners and guests. Beyond cobia, Brays Island offers a variety of experiences from hunting shark teeth to red fishing and bass fishing.

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