If you’re a saltwater fly fisher and the permit is your species of choice, you better prepare yourself for sleepless nights and days when you question your ability and equipment.
I can think of very few other species that can take you on such an emotional rollercoaster. The Permit Guru Mike Dawes once said that if you do everything correct, make a good presentation, don’t miss a strip, keep a permit’s interest, and you still don’t get the strike, you have to accept that as a win.
Undoubtably, permit are the most challenging fish on the flats, and rightfully so. They are wary and attuned to their surroundings, and catching one is a great thrill. Unfortunately, many anglers place too much pressure on themselves to succeed. I have witnessed very competent anglers become bumbling stooges after catching a glimpse of a permit.
Fortunately, permit and triggerfish are often found in proximity when fishing around Chetumal, Mexico, which offers an opportunity for success when the permit aren’t willing to play.
The Yucatan Peninsula’s permit and triggerfish are often seen sharing the same habitat. I find the best time to target both species on the coral reefs is at low tide, simply because less water makes it easier to see these fish. But I have had very good outings during high tide also. If you slow your stalk, watch along the shoreline and around structure, keep your eyes on the rollers coming over the reef edge, you will increase your opportunities. And fishing both tides ups your odds of success simply by keeping your fly in the water as much as possible.
I have also learned that permit and triggerfish take similar offerings. I have caught both on shrimp and crab patterns, along with specific bonefish patterns. Presentation is the key. A well placed cast, along with a retrieve that’s often dictated by the reaction of the fish, with no unnecessary movement, often results in success, or at the very least a learning experience. After all, it is called fishing not catching.