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By Captain Thomas Rowland

Weather plays an important role in the success of permit anglers. The ideal day for permit is not the ideal day for other fish. I like 18-25 mph winds with a crystal clear sky. Higher winds allow me to pole the boat to within 30 feet of a tailing permit without the fish spotting me. The high sun gives us the visibility to tract a fish from 100 yards away.

Spotting a fish at such a great distance and beginning the stalk is the epitome of sporting challenge. Poling in heavy wind seems effortless when we are watching a 30 pound fish tail repeatedly along the flat.

As I approach the fish, my angler gets ready to make the difficult cast. Timing is everything in this situation. Casting too early is the most common mistake anglers make. With high winds, cut your estimated casting distance in half and wait for your guide to tell you when to begin the cast.

The boat position is equally important as the cast. Windy days make it exceedingly difficult to set up the shot. A good guide will pole into position and tell you to begin your cast. At that moment, he will slowly swing the boat to allow a clear casting path - while remaining in position to chase the permit if necessary.

When the cast is made, watch the reaction of the fish. A well-presented fly will get the fishes attention. A cast too far away from the fish will go unnoticed. I tell my anglers that I would rather see them spook the fish by casting too close to it than having the fish not see the fly. Tremendous amounts of fish are spooked as the angler tries to recast a short cast.

If all goes well, the permit will rush over to your fly, tail-up on it and ease off. Your line will come tight and you will be hooked to the most prized fish on earth.

It sounds easy; it is not. While not easy, it is certainly not impossible and permit are caught on a fly regularly. When an angler achieves the confidence that a permit will eat every fly that is thrown to them properly, that angler will begin to catch a lot of permit. Achieving such a high level of confidence is developed through long hours chasing permit.

I can not think of a better way to spend the day! ~ Thomas Rowland

Key West, Florida and Permit Fishing

Fall Sunrise on the Keys

In order to attempt permit fishing with a fly, anglers need to go to a destination that has large numbers of fish frequenting the flats.

A good guide who specializes in flyfishing for permit is probably the best investment you will make in pursuit of these fish.

Fishing out of Key West, Florida offers the permit angler access to the best permit fishing on earth. The lower Florida Keys, from Marathon to the Marquesas Keys have a dense population of permit and a vast diversity of situations to fish for them.

During different times of the year, I concentrate my efforts for permit in all of the lower Keys, but tend to fish for them most out of Key West. I consider the permit to be the most "year round" specie to frequent the flats.

A little heartier than bonefish, the permit can adjust to both colder and warmer temperatures while remaining active in shallow water. I will flyfish for permit every month of the year, but tend to give the months of February, March, July, September, October and November the highest grades as to numbers of fish on the flats.

There is simply no fishing that gets me as excited as flyfishing for permit. I would rather guide for permit than any other fish because no other guiding that I have done requires as much teamwork between the angler and the guide.

Key West offers the best accommodations in the Keys and most of my anglers choose to stay on the island. There are accommodations for every budget and taste from the chain type hotels to elegant guest houses to five star resorts.

Generally I give a few recommendations of some of my favorite places and my anglers choose one best suited to their vacation. Key West also plays a great host to any non-fishing companions with its museums, shops and fabulous cuisine. -TR

About Capt. Tom Rowland

Tom Rowland's Saltwater Experience is one of the premier fly fishing guide services in all of Florida.

From your Key West launch, Tom fishes the flats from Marathon to the Marquesas for permit, bonefish and tarpon.

Captain Rowland fishes waters which cater to his skill. The tarpon of the lower keys range from 5 to upward of 200 pounds. The bonefish are the largest in the world, and will challenge any angler. Keys permit are the largest, most numerous, and most difficult known in the world, and provide the ultimate test of patience and skill to the serious saltwater fly fisher. Tom is one of the most intense anglers and guides in the keys, challenging himself to put clients on fish. When you fish with Captain Rowland, you will push the envelope for excitement and action, and experience the cutting edge of saltwater fly fishing. For more information contact: Tom Rowland, Saltwater Experience. Phone: 305-294-7447.

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