The Elusive Permit

By: Peter Miller, Bass 2 Billfish

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Permit may seem skiddish, but once coaxed to the line, these fish make for a lively battle.

An important ingredient in the ever-popular "Keys Grand Slam" (also includes bonefish and tarpon), permit are a popular pursuit for anglers all over Florida.

Though well known in the warm water of the Keys, permit can be found up and down the west and east coast of Florida. Adult permit feed on shrimp, crab and mollusks as well as baitfish. They are often found in flats and channels, sometimes tailing as they search the muddy bottoms for food. If found off-shore, they are usually lingering around wrecks or debris.

Wary fish that usually travel alone or in small schools, permit can be challenging to stalk and tempt. Like bonefish, they're easily spooked and require a little strategy for success. Permit are particularly popular with fly fishermen looking to challenge themselves with accurate casts and fish-appealing flies. Weiging 10 to 40 pounds on average, these stream-lined, flat fish may seem deceptively placid.

Known for their long, fast initial runs, permit require a little experimenting with gear and technique. Many guides and anglers claim that a slight breeze that ruffles or disturbs the water, makes permit less skittish, and more likely to come to the surface.

A guide with experience in successfully putting clients on permit would be a fantastic way to learn about catching these elusive fish. The more knowledge you have about the behavior of permit, the closer you get to fighting with one at the end of your line. And pound for pound, these fish put up an incredible fight. Whether you get to catch one as part of the famous Keys tri-fish series, or alone, it's guaranteed to be a homerun.

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