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So, you want to catch a permit?

The prime time to catch a permit in the Central Gulf area has just passed, as it is now the first week of May. But wait, there are still permit for the finding.

It’s true, permit inhabit the wrecks and heavy bottom in late March, April and early May. Often during this time, these fish will come to the surface to ‘sun’ and can be cast to at that time with a fly or live dollar crab. However, depending on the weather, these times can change.

Hook the crab by one of the side points, and free line it. The secret here is to strike the moment you perceive any indication of movement. For sight fishing when they are on the surface, you need to be on station at first light for best results. However, noon is also a good time to catch them ‘sunning’. This is the best time for fly anglers to present a fly to these fish.

Fly anglers cast over the fish and strip to them In the vicinity of the fish, let the fly drop towards the bottom. The permit will think the crab is escaping and will strike. An alternate method when the fish are not showing on the surface is to just let the crab or fly drop over the wreck or artificial reef. Note: The fly must be weighted enough on one side to simulate a fleeing crab.

Permit move closer to shore on the artificial reefs in May and early June. With spin tackle, a live dollar crab works best, or large live shrimp will also work. Remember, the current must be moving. Also take into consideration that permit are a very wary species and a little finicky as well.
Fishing the wrecks or artificial reefs, it is imperative to be positioned up tide and over the highest elevation of the wreck or reef. Set up a chum line and free line a dollar crab. When anchoring over a reef or wreck, anchor so your lines fall at the far edge or end of the structure, where the current is less, as the tide flows over the structure. Wreck fishing may require a 30 or 40 pound clear leader and a neutral color hook.

Anchoring is best achieved by use of a buoy, as in tarpon fishing. The reasoning here is that when hooked up with light tackle, you must move away from the wreck, as the fish will mostly likely cut you off in the wreck. Permit make very strong runs towards the bottom or structure, so like grouper, it is imperative to keep his head up if possible to keep the fish out of obstructions. Then of course, the buoy allows you to re-anchor in the same place for another try.

Remember, when you loose a permit to the wreck, stomping, shouting and cursing does little to solve the problem. However, a good stiff drink on shore will help you tell the story better.
Jim Lee
Next week: Catching snook in several different places and times.

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