It is hard to truly delineate how challenging permit fishing can be to someone that has not endured the trials and tribulations associated to this devilish creature.
Of course on many occasions these creatures are easily persuaded “reef donkey style” over a wreck or even on the flats with a few congreho’s…………………however the trials and tribulations I speak of above are associated with those that have chosen to pursue these fish with a fly rod. Inevitably long term mental anguish is a direct result of such pursuits .
Clearly there are many more accomplished and knowledgeable anglers/guides that have addressed the subject, however oddly enough most observations are similar. These fish can be near impossible with certain weather conditions and when water temps are right, the stars are aligned, fly choice is matching the hatch, casting is on point……………….this list could go on forever and assuming all that is a given, you still have to find the right fish. With permit fishing perfect shots on most occasions are greeted with middle fingers and exploding terrified fish.
case and point………………………
A few months back buddy Capt. Don Gable started concocting a plan to fish the Del. I attempted to persuade him differently but those suggestions were left ignored. However at the end of the day like him, I am a permit junky.
Like early Fall, favorable weather windows truly dictate good permit fishing. The discouraging northerly high winds and cooler water temps of the Fall are replaced with calm seas and unbearable heat in the Summer, generally both can turn permit fishing to shit instantly. Again might I warn you, permit fishing with a fly rod is highly addictive, those in compromised states of mental stability should undoubtedly steer clear……..WAY freaking clear.
Pre-fishing is always a prerequisite as permit fishing is extremely team oriented, from finding fish, positioning the skiff, to casting……teamwork is a must for success.
With increased regulations in Monroe County (Florida Keys) and the Costa tagging program, this fishery has solidified support for their permit fishery. Without the hard work of local officials and hardworking guides, commercial takes of this gamefish were taking their tolls. Definitely positive steps towards a teetering fishery abused by many experienced by few. For those that have hit fishing right, Key West is arguably the best permit fishery in the world. Days of 15-35 shots are common when things align. If you claim to be a fly fisherman KW better be on the bucket list.
Hopefully these future fly eaters recognize all the hard work….
There are so many techniques seasoned permit fisherman attempt to implement during summer conditions which are often quite difficult. When oil slick, zero wind, conditions arise these fish are often near impossible to approach, 80 foot cast are the norm. In most cases you cannot even speak or get within 200 feet of these fish. It is impossible to explain the difficulty presented in calm conditions catching these fish………….as if they were not hard enough.
Some pre-fishing positive reinforcement…..
Confirmed they were hungry…..
Verified zero wind strategy could be pulled off……
And as the tournament began 14 skiffs were met with some of the most difficult fishing conditions possible and lucky for us these conditions would continue throughout the tournament. Slicked and 95 degrees by 10AM. It was stifling hot, cases of water were drank each day, I think we were even sweating while running the skiff. Even early morning water temps were through the roof. When there was any wind, complete cloud cover was the norm…….
Day One- Had a very large group of floaters push on the fly but never could get one to commit and a few other less memorable shots. 14 skiffs zero fish caught.
eerie start to the day as the moon set and a looming storm pressed closer……
Day Two- Hooked micro sized perm off a ray and the hook pulled, quite typical with these fish. Now 28 days of guided fishing among the fleet zero fish caught.
Day Three- Needless to say everyone was somewhat shattered. I truly expected heat strokes to occur. Again we had our shots, had a sizable fish bolt on the fly even proceeded to track it a bit but never committed. Upon our return to the dock we found that in 42 guided fishing days only one permit was caught. The magicians that beat all odds were Justin Rea and Greg Vincent. The tournament results alone give testament to how well deserved this win was.
We were really close but that’s permit fishing……you live and you learn