Three days TAIL…

March 5, 2012 by Haley Leave a reply »

Written By Captain Don Gable

Feb 28, 2012

Day 1: After spending the last three days on the water fishing Permit I think it’s safe to say the 2012 Permit season is off to a great start!

Angler Alex Maher from Jackson, Wyoming, took his spot on the bow of my boat Wednesday hoping to catch his first Permit in the Florida Keys. We set out early on the falling tide, under partly cloudy skies, wind south 5-10 miles per hour with water temps around 74 degrees. I slowly polled up to our first flat to find four or five fish tailing and working in very shallow, slick water. They were so shallow their backs were exposed and we even watched one fish swim on his side as he worked to cross a shallow bar. We worked through the slack and then rising tide for about two hours throwing at tailing fish and managed to get one solid eat that never came tight. The fish turned and ate the fly while quickly traveling down current, towards the boat making it almost impossible to get a solid hook set. “Let’s find another.” I suggested.

Alex and I continued to fish through the top of the high getting a dozen or so shots, it was now 2pm. After a brief roll over, the tide started to drop…fast! It wasn’t long until we spotted a good sized Permit slowly moving across the flat and slightly away. “Eleven o’clock, 70 feet going away…You got him?” I yelled.

“GOT HIM!” Alex said. I made another push and Alex launched his cast placing it about a foot in front of the going away fish and slightly left. The fish turned…Alex gave a long slow strip…another….and then the fish inhaled the fly! “YES!!!!”

Fifteen minutes later…Mr. Permit is in the boat.

Day 2: Day 2 would prove to be very different. We worked hard under clear blue skies to find fish and only managed 7 shots in the day. The Permit were unsettled, and on the move showing little to no interest in properly-placed flies. The number of fish on the flats had also decreased. Was it the lack of wind, (south 0-5) the super high water, the fly?

Day 3: We woke to clear skies, wind south 10-15 and 72 degrees, time for a major move! Alex and I headed east, passing up the flats that provided us with lots of shots and a fish on day 1 and punished us on day 2. We polled a couple small flats and another very long edge that provided only four shots. After a few moves and four more shots it was time for lunch. We were the only ones eating.

Shortly after lunch we boated a 4-pound Bonefish that was eager to eat our Permit fly. A third of the Florida Keys Grand Slam (Permit, Tarpon and Bonefish) in the boat, now let’s get that Perm! The 3-foot tide was now making skinny water tough to find.

After racking my brain I remembered a little flat that I had fished last year on a very high tide that held some good fish. We polled into the spot and blew out a solid fish…then another. The light was really bad, the direction not quite right, so I decided to poll out, bump up, and come around from the back. The new approach had me polling into the tide, with the fish facing away. Not ideal, but we could see the black sickle tails and had the wind at our back. It wasn’t long, and we were back into fish after 6 quick shots we spotted a group of fish at 40 feet and took another shot. The group moved away to the right and then did something I have never seen a Permit do…they started “daisy chaining”! CRAZY! Alex quickly threw his next cast on the outside of the chain (like we do with Tarpon) plop strip, strip, SET! After fighting off a small shark we landed our first fish of the day…a good one!

With more fish on the flat, Alex and I decided to continue fishing Permit and spend the last hour of our day looking for a Tarpon for the Grand Slam. We landed our second Permit about 20 minutes later. This guy was the first one to the fly beating his three other friends, earning a seat in my boat and a tag in his back!

Alex and I decided to leave the flat and head out for that Tarpon in hopes of getting his first Keys Grand Slam. After a short ride we arrived on one of my favorite early season Tarpon spots. It didn’t take long for the shot to come…in fact it might have come too quick.

“One o′clock…30 feet, Alex!” He quickly dropped his fly and put in a few good strips…strip, strip, strip, SET! A heavy silence filled the boat…no jump, no screaming line, no chrome. Game over…“Next time buddy, next time!”

Permit season is here! Get some!

For your Florida Keys Grand Slam, contact Captain Don Gable at

Comments are closed.