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Bonefish, Tarpon, and other Obsessions Turquoise water, silver demons on the fly

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Old 02-08-2004, 08:42 AM
The French guy The French guy is offline
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I know. Still no permits on fly.
I just share boats with some of the best in the KEys and I wanted to share their knowledge on the board. I did not know when Del started his hunt for permits, but if he fished 10 years for them, that is about 1000 days on the water with the best guides for over 500 permits on fly. The ratio is not that great finally.

However, if you fish with Bob Branham in Biscayne bay, the ratio is much better. His approach is just different. They are just Jacks. Bob is the only guy I know who got a royal slam on the flats with bones, permits, tarpons and a mutton snapper taken on the same fly the same day. He is just quiet and do not tell anyone he is catching lots of permits too. After maybe ten bones on fly, I stopped counting. I think recording the number of fish caught is ridiculous.
I agree that big fish are tougher than schools. Unfortunately, the permits I fish are in the 15-40 pounds range and the bones in the 7-13 pounds range. I just need to learn permits. I have now three flies for any situation... Again, I really think there is a learning curve with permits. Mel, it is good to see you here!

Here is an answer from Lefty about what I wrote (so you have another opinion):
Bob is the only person I have heard say that permit are easy to catch and apparently he knows something we don't.
I believe next to mutton snapper that permit are the most confounding fish to take on the flats. My experience is that there are no set rules and at times a floating crab works--at other times a sinking crab must be used.
I have spent days in the boat with Del Brown and Steve Huff perhaps, the two best at permit catching. I can tell you that permit are not predictable. The best presentation MOST OF THE TIME is to drop the fly within two feet of the front of the fish. Del felt and he convicnedme that the sink rate of the crab at this point is critcal. In fact, Del tapered his Merkins at the hook eye to improve their sink rate--I think this is imporrtant. A crab pattern that "settles" slowly in front of the fish doesn't draw as much interest.
If the fish circles the fly on the bototm--but fails to take it, Del would move it maybe AN INCH--just enough to impart life. If the fish left he would make another identcial cast and on at least 3 occasions the permit took the fly after two casts at it.
I once caught a big bonefish at Moore's Isand that wrapped around a sea fan and a shark bit off the tail. I opened that bonefish and it contained NINE crabs--no two were alike. I think the multicolors of the Merkin "suggest" many diffeent crabs--and the acrylic body gives a soft impact--I am convinced that crab patterns that have a lot of hard stuff on the bottom will often crash to hard to the surface.
I wish I had more time but I am going to be a week answering all my e-mails and other mail.
All the Best,
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Old 01-01-2005, 11:52 PM
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bonehead bonehead is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Cayman Islands
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Permit... sometimes...

Wow, didn't realize I'd be in such company when I joined this forum. Lefty, Del Brown, Marshall, etc. Still, here's what I know about permit from fishing the waters here in the Caribbean.

I agree with the strip theory, but Mr. Kreh is also correct, permit are often baffling. The thing is they are so analogous to bonefish that people expect their body language to be like bones. It is not. That's why having a guide that specializes in permit is so important to catching them on fly. It takes a lot of time on the water watching these fish to learn their behavior.

This is what I found to work for me. First, be direct. If the fish were moving I'd cast 5 feet ahead and let the fly sink. This is when I'd get the most interest. Fish would dart forward and take or inspect the fly. I actually missed half dozen strikes by waiting too long at this point. If a permit charges the fly on the sink, begin a slooow strip immediately. This seems to have the effect of taking all the slack out of the line and allowing you to feel the permit take. If you start to strip and feel nothing, stop for a second and watch the fish. If there is no further reaction, strip slowly again. This is that crawling action that actually looks like a crab.

Secondly, be persistent. If the fish didn't eat on the first presentation, I waited until they swam past and simply recast. Only after being sure I'd showed a fly to every fish in the pod would I change flies. It seems like sometimes I'd get a follow and then they'd lose interest (doing something wrong, I guess). Instead of continuing to strip and risk having the permit see me, I'd let them swim on and reapproach them for another shot. I've actually had them eat after maybe a half-dozen presentations with the same fly. Compare that with bones which usually spook and are long gone after a fly refusal.

Finally, I don't wish to appear an expert. I've only caught 1 permit myself and only ever hooked 3... all at home... but I've not spent too much time targeting them. I spent a week in Ascension Bay fishing for them and, though I saw a lot of fish, hooked zero. Now that I look back on that I week I think I actually had fish eat the fly (as I've had in Belize) but they eat and spit the fly so quickly that I couldn't get the hook in. Also, (and this is by no means an excuse) I was fishing with guides at the time. I find that I've been a guide too long to fish at my best with most guides... I don't think my brain is fully on at these times. Fishing on my own is a different story.

One week in Mexico: 0 permit. Three days on permit flat at home: 2 permit hooked, one landed (and helped guide my dad to his first as well - he, of course, went 1 for 1 whereas I lost mine to the reef).

On the water,
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