True story. Several years ago, I had the chance to go to The Palometa Club in Ascension Bay, Mexico, on a quest to catch my first permit ever (palometa means permit in Spanish). I had been primed with many stories about how permit are the most difficult fish to catch on a fly… fishing for them is an exercise reserved only for the mildly insane. First day, first morning, my guide and I are buzzing across the flats, when he suddenly kills the engine, leaps out of the boat, and waves at me to follow. A signature black sickle fin is pulsing along a mangrove shoreline…a tailing permit…looked like a silver trash can lid reflecting just below the surface. So I load up, make a cast, drop the crab fly in the feeding path, and boom…hook up with a 15-pounder. First fish, first cast…I thought, “Ain’t nothin’ to this permit thing…”
Of course, my cockiness has turned on me, and since then I’ve paid my dues, with many more casts and very few fish. I’m a believer in the permit magic. Musky schmusky…the permit is, no doubt in my mind, the toughest quarry to hook on a fly. And no question, it was NOT the angler’s skill that made that first hookup happen (I actually think I was too naive and stupid at the time to grasp the tension of the moment); it was the place (and good fortune) that delivered. If ever you get it in your twisted mind to chase permit on the fly, I’d highly recommend going to Ascension Bay, where you’ll find the densest populations of these fish, pretty much anywhere on the planet.
And now would be a good time to go, because the Palometa Club is running a very spicy promotion. If you catch the club’s 500th permit (they’re on 480 now, so it will likely happen within the next month or so) they’ll comp you another free return trip. And to lure you down there, they’re offering $500 off the initial trip price, $3,000 for a full week, all-in (minus airfare). If you catch #500, you also get a Sage rod, a Hatch reel, Kaenon sunglasses, and all the bragging rights you’ll ever need.
Just don’t do it on the first cast of your first day, please. That’s my story, and I like to tell it.