Monday, October 11, 2010

Permit, Baby!

For the past several weeks, I have often sat in front of my computer doing absolutely nothing. From a far, it may appear that I am asleep, but I am actually deep in thought. A small size 8 merkin tumbles in and out of my fingers and the only thing breaking me out of my trance is the sharp point of a Gamakatsu piercing into my finger tips. Occasionally, one might observe a wry smile stretch across my face or hear a wayward chuckle. Except, I am all alone. The merkin is serving as a reminder of one of my most memorable angling experiences ever. My first permit.

Our last day in paradise began on the beach, where the haul of a three week non-stop fishing trip was beginning to take its toll. Matt and I had a short night sleep broken up several times. Driving wind and heavy rain slipped into the tent soaking us in the middle of the night, while Adam slept upright in the front seat of the rental. As the sun emerged on the horizon, we crawled out from our little cave and out onto the sand. My parched lips took a swig of water before sandy hands placed contacts into my crusty eyes. My eyesight quickly went from legally blind to 20/20 as we packed up the truck. Adam and Matt were looking rather beat but the mere thought of another day on these flats re-energized us after a long day and night chasing bonefish and tarpon. We headed to familiar waters where we had luck the previous two days with the goal of walking farther than any other person would be willing to go.

It was a beautiful day to be out on the flats in the Caribbean. We positioned ourselves walking downwind as the sun ascended into the sky shining brightly onto our backs. Matt took the inner lane, closest to shore while Adam was thirty yards to his left manning the middle. I was on the outside, thigh deep, scanning 180 degrees up and down the coast. For the first half hour, it was like what Adam once described as, "watching paint dry". Foot pursuit fly fishing has its way of testing an angler's resolve. An hour passes before two permit come weaving into Matt's viewpoint. He gets a response on his kwabbit before they dart off. A half hour later, Adam has his chance and once again the adrenaline courses through our veins as another shot at a permit, evades our grasp. I paused and contemplated the events thus far. We saw several permit and zero bonefish. I decided to clip the ten pound test off of my leader and added a few feet of 1x testing out at 12.7 pounds. I tied on a custom merkin that is a product of Adam and I's creativeness at the vice the night before we left on our three day camping trip. I figured, I would have at least one shot at a permit and I had better be ready when that moment comes.

Awhile later, in the distance, the image that every angler dreams about emerges in my viewpoint. The pair are not tailing but cruising at a decent clip. They are perfectly camouflaged in the turquoise water except for their dark blue dorsal and tail fins. They occasionally stick out of the surface as they weave back and forth searching for a meal. Adam recognizes my sickness from a distance as I strip out line. As I begin hauling, the line catches my waist pack and simultaneously wraps around my rod. Adam mentions something about buck fever and I turn and give him the death stare as I undo the minor mess. The permit are heading out to sea, before turning around and arching in a circle. I give chase, careful not to produce too much of a disturbance as I creep into casting distance. I impatiently rush a cast that plops down five feet in front of the pair. The merkin goes unnoticed, and they loop out and around again. My second shot results in the rushing of my fly. A last second twitch and the permit abruptly turns. The pair go on another looping run. Once again, I give chase before they turn and are coming straight at me. I loft a fairly long cast and the merkin plops five feet in front of the lead fish. I strip twice and let the fly drop to the sandy bottom when I notice the permit's body language change, signally that he is on the fly. He is close enough that I witness everything. The perm meanders over just like a carp, before hovering down on top of my fly, and sucking it off the bottom.


Loud & Proud

Shaking Out My Hand.

Give & Take.

Sickle Going Boom.

Butt in the Gut.

Peek a Boo.


The roar was heard long and far by anyone in the immediate vicinity, but the moment abruptly ended as my six weight bent to the cork. I was able to catch the slack line and guide it around my waist pack as it rushed out of my guides. Before I knew what was happening, the backing knot ticked through the guides and I was deep into my reel capacity. I kept nine and half feet of rod raised over my head, attempting to prevent him from breaking me off on some unseen structure. I regained my composure and began pumping the rod and reel retrieving my fly line in the process. Several short, powerful bursts followed, before I had him in close. At the sight of three of us, he took off one more time into my backing. A few moments later, I had him in close again, sideways on top of the water as I released my drag and placed my hands at the base of his tail, grabbing a piece of heaven.

The Grab is Pure.

Oh, No You Don't.

Did This Just Happen?





A Non-Video Still. 

The moment was surreal as I lifted my first permit out of the water. I couldn't really believe that it had happened even as I held in it in my arms. As I let him go, the moment began to sink in. Several months prior, I had dueled with my first permit and lost. I vowed to exact revenge on my return. A few days earlier, I lost a DSLR, a lens, a cell phone, and a guide off my fly rod landing my first bonefish. The moment had forced me to contemplate why I fish. With the release of my first permit, the answer to all those questions in my head were answered and as Harry once told Lloyd, I totally redeemed myself.

Sexy Fish.





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