Eye of the Guide

Saltwater Chronicles - part 24

Tom Travis - Aug 3, 2015

Sysadmin Note
Part 23 can be found here

Saltwater Gamefish of Florida

Another one of the most popular species of saltwater gamefish that tops the saltwater fly fisher's dream list are Permit. For best opportunities at this species I travel further south in Florida to pursue this highly sought after gamefish.


Permit [Trachinotus falcatus] this is another one of the "Bucket List" species for many anglers with dreams of the saltwater adventures. Fly anglers will find this species is very abundant in the waters of South Florida.

They can reach 79 pounds and 48 inches in length and have a life span of 23 years. They spawn off shore in Florida waters from May to July however little else has been discovered on the spawning habits of Permit. There is also little known about their tolerances to water temperature and salinity.

It is well known that they feed on shrimp, crabs, worms, and small minnows and are found in shallow waters around mud flats, channels, and tidal flats, around inlets, near shore, coral reefs, jetties and wrecks. 

The juveniles are found in the sea grass beds and among the mangroves and along the beaches.

It is interesting to note that all the geographical distribution descriptions state the Permit range from Massachusetts to southeastern Brazil but I seldom read about Permit fishing opportunities north of Florida. I do know that Permit is found in the Gulf of Mexico and warmer waters south of Florida. But north?

Legendary saltwater angler Jack Samson has authored two volumes on the subject of Permit fishing, in 1996 Permit on a Fly was published and then in 2003 Fly Fishing for Permit was published. Both of these books are a must read for the serious angler who is targeting Permit. Randall Kaufmann's Bonefishing! Published in 2000 contains excellent information on fly fishing for Permit as well as good information on choosing the proper fly patterns.

I use an eight weight rod system with floating lines, sink tips and various full sinking fly lines for most of my Permit fishing however I do bring along my ten weight rod system for the windy days.

Larger Permit can be the most frustrating of fish for the saltwater angler to conquer as no angler can really tell what a Permit will do when presented with a fly. Tarpon, snook, bonefish and redfish are regularly takes flies but Permit are much different the pattern that work today may not work on the next hundred Permit that you cast to, what does help is to learn about the habits of the Permit and to fish for them as often as possible and to learn from others who have learned the secrets of the Permit.

Learning the best times to fish for Permit, how they are affected by weather change and the effects of water temperature changes, how to work them on the flats and over the deep water where are located. How to choose the best patterns and what fly lines and retrieve methods are best to attempt depending on the situation encountered. I know several anglers who have hired guides and taken the Permit of their dreams never to return to fish them again. They just wanted to catch a Permit.

However to conquer the Permit takes a lot more dedication and hours of fishing and you may become proficient but guess what, like any species they are impossible to conquer, as there is happily always more to learn. So what do you want, just to catch a Permit or do you wish to challenge the Permit!

Small Clouser Minnows and various Shrimp patterns are effective on Permit however whenever this species is mentioned the first pattern that comes to mind are the Crab patterns. 

There are many effective crab patterns out there and many or covered in the volumes I have already mentioned. I have my own favorite pattern that I prefer for Permit and it is my favorite because I have taken several Permit on it. Good reason to like the pattern huh! I like this pattern because it is quick and easy to tie and something it even works.

Tan Crabby Shrimp

The next pattern that I use on Permit is the spoon crab which may offend some but it works and that is why I use it.

Tan Rabbit Spoon Crab

Enjoy & Good Fishin'

Sysadmin Note
Part 25 can be found here



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