Once in a while we get treated to some really great fishing, something out of the ordinary. Permit fishing typically involves not getting them, even when it is good. Time on the water is always enjoyable whether the fish show up and do what they are supposed to or not, having the proper mindset for permit fishing is really important to ones enjoyment. One of my favorite guides and friends told me years ago that mother nature has to give it to you at some point if you keep trying. Permit have always intrigued me ever since my first trip to the flats almost twenty years ago and it took a long time to just get comfortable dealing with such a finicky and at times, downright dishonest fish, let alone put all the pieces together and actually hook one. After landing my first one finally after countless opportunities, I wanted another one. There is that saying that success breeds success, and on the last day of that trip to Honduras a few years ago, I managed to land a second one on the last day of fishing.

So here we are, back in Honduras a few years later visiting Mango Creek Lodge on the island of Roatan. Having never fished this part of Honduras, we really did not know what to expect although we felt pretty good going in based on my last trip to this wonderful country. The first 2 days we had a some great fishing and I got a permit on the afternoon of the first day. Landed a permit underneath a double rainbow at the last part of the day, the trip was already a huge success.

We had a great time with the staff and all of their guides Perry, Kessell and Joevi. However, on the last day last day of fishing with the kid, things got surreal. Joevi, is a young and enthusiastic guide, who at just 21 years old is already well ahead of the curve. My fishing partner for the day, Bryan Gregson, good friend and photographer extraordinaire. We fished our way out to one of the more distant flats, ultimately landing on a long wide flat that we had fished several times the days previous. Joevi and I walked along close to the mangroves looking for bonefish, the light was getting good and the tide was now pushing in hard. Bryan lagged 200 feet behind us and doing what good photographers do, whistled and using advanced sign language, he communicated that he has spotted some permit. Joevi handed me the Permit rod and we moved out. We found the same group, and chased them 150 yards down the flat and could never quite get in range. We walked the 300 yards back to the boat and Joevi suggested we do a short lap and linger at the edge of the flat. A minute later, I got a glimpse of a school 50 feet in front of me on the drop-off and quickly pitched them a cast, only to have them evaporate. Another minute later there they are again in better view milling about and immediately made a cast right amongst them and immediately got tight to one. Ten minutes later, we had permit to hand and after a few photos, we sent him back to the clear blue depths.

Now mid morning and after deciding that we had caused too much ruckus on that flat, we moved onto another flat very close to the lodge. Joevi killed the engine as we approached a small island and small reef-side flat. As we climbed up on the bow, he mentioned that he often sees permit here. Not more than a minute later, a dozen plus larger permit appeared out of nowhere and saw the boat and bolted. Trusting his gut, Joevi poled the boat out and re-positioned us a little ways down the flat, hoping that they would settle back down. Joevi quickly spotted the same group again, this time from over a hundred feet. He gently eased the boat that direction and pointed them out, now almost in range. They looked as happy as could be, moving slowly and milling about together. I wound up for a big cast, found my line and delivered that small crab a few feet in front of them. That fly sank about a foot and one of those permit came right over and sucked it in, it was just short of instant. One long strip to get tight and this fish put the afterburners heading right towards the reef and ultimately through it. With all of the coral that this fish swam through, it was nothing short of a miracle that we landed this fish. Afterwards as we caught our breath with all of the excitement, it began to barely sink in what we had pulled off. Two permit on three casts in one morning, we were all feeling it.

Now almost lunchtime and very much looking forward to a few victory beers, we moved down to the next flat to see if we could get a bonefish to top off our already incredible morning. Joevi poled the boat towards the skinny water, now with an incredibly huge smile on his face, he had some tailing bonefish already in sight. I grabbed the bonefish rod and a box of flies and slipped my boots on, and suddenly his demeanor got serious. Another group of permit is tailing their way down the flat two hundred feet in the other direction. I did not even have time to tie the laces on my boots and we were hot on the trail of these fish. We got right on them, but the position of the fish and now a crosswind made getting the fly exactly where it needed be to, difficult. I made a few cast and the fish never saw the fly. Joevi suggested we reposition and get that wind at our back for an easier shot. I didn’t feel great about walking away, but listened to Joevi and we moved a few hundred feet around to flank them. Again, he spotted the small black tails amongst the beautiful abstract chaos of wind-swept and turtle grass bottomed water, and I finally picked up the jet black tails. A sixty foot, straight downwind cast was all it took to get Permit number three of the morning. This fish happily charged and ate the fly without hesitation. As the fish started emptying backing of the reel, we looked at each other in total disbelief and then the howling began.

Permit will test your patience, sanity, bank account, fishing abilities as well as every single piece of gear you use. Certainly the element of luck comes into play, as far as finding a fish the “right” fish, maybe more so with Permit than any other type of fish. One of the biggest things that you can do to up your chances is being able to deliver the fly where it needs to be, no more than five feet is absolutely critical to feeding a permit, in the wind at all distances. I have been really impressed with RIO’s Permit taper, especially paired up with SAGE 990-4 and 1090-4 ONE and SALT. Their ability to deliver a heavy fly, accurately in the wind from medium to long distances is pretty amazing

Doug McKnight
Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures
photos by Bryan Gregson

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