As a former General Contractor the past 30 years, I never got tired of hearing those wonderful words, “Your Permit is Ready to Pick Up.” Well, there is another kind of Permit down here in Southwest Forida, the awesome trophy gamefish of the same name, that anglers come down from all walks of life, every summer, to battle on the grass flats of the Keys, and the offshore structures and shallow wrecks of SW Florida. They are at the top of the pecking order for special fish to check off any bucket list and the perfect target for family fishing excitement on the shallow wrecks.
Every summer when I take Pete, Christy, LP and Will fishing, something great always happens. This year, we ventured offshore, way down south of Naples, off the coast of the Everglades National Park to some of the storied shallow wrecks that are teaming with big hungry fish. Particularly, big permit. The perfect stage for a day of family fishing excitement on the shallow wrecks.
The water was a perfect blend of blue with a hint of green…and very clear. The summer day was brutally hot, and perfect for exploring the shallow wrecks off of the Everglades National Park. The targets were of course big permit, and giant jewfish (Golaith Grouper), that lurk on the bottom ready to inhale anything that will fit in their giant mouths.
It did not take long for the excitement to show up. As I wiped the endless sweat off my face and out of my eyes, LP said he felt a slight peck on a free lined tiny but lively crab he drifted down into the wreck. All of us jumped to attention, and I immediately clicked the trolling motor off spot-lock and headed off and away from the wreck. The trick to getting these fish, on this wreck, is a tight drag, but absolutely no yanking or pulling, as you slowly lead them off the structure, other than what the trolling motor is quietly at work doing. This fish, luckily, was swimming parallel to the wreck, and then lazily, like a big ol silver dog on a leash, followed us, as we steered it further and further away from the wreck. Permit are known for their outrageous runs, and brute power, and ability to use the structure below to cut the line, when hooked, and the only way to have a chance to land the fish, was to sneak it as far as possible from this wreck, and hope for some luck, once the fireworks commence.
As we approached 200 yards, the fish was getting antsy and starting to run in little streaks, so I told LP to stand up tall, hold that rod high, and start reeling hard. Almost on cue, like a horse out of the starting gate, the beast immediately screamed right at the wreck, 100 yds, 150 yds… no no no no please slow down I’m whining, almost as loud as the drag, and suddenly, the fish fish veered off to the right and started a big half circle dog fight away from the wreck.
LP, pulled, and reeled, pulled and reeled, smoothly, confidently, and suddenly, halfway back to the boat, the fish surfaced, and we confirmed what we suspected, LP had a 25 pound, big silver Permit hooked and clear of the wreck!
I loosened the drag at this point, and the fish immediately ripped off line to a screaming drag, over and over. The power of a hooked permit is simply amazing. There’s a lot of powerhouse fish in the saltwater world down here, but the power of a hooked permit is something, pound, for pound, I would put up against anything. Soon, however, LP’s dogged smooth battle on the Florida Fishing Products 5000 Resolute was gaining ground, and the last 5 minutes of the battle was a thing of beauty watching that awesome fish do everything it could to avoid the inevitable photo session in which it was destined to participate. Two more runs, some yelling and and babbling from Captain Blabberbabble, as LP steered the fish around the trolling motor, the outboard, and the underside of the boat, and BOOM! The big landing net scooped up the fish, and Little Pete had himself another trophy.
Not to be outdone, younger brother Willy, who us usually that ‘everything bites his hook guy’ stood up tall an hour later, after we wore ourselves out on giant jewfish, and said ‘I just felt a thump!’ Same process. We steer another big fish, like a well behaved silver dog on a leash, off the wreck. Except this fish was on a Calcutta 400 baitcaster, and it wasn’t quite so well behaved. Somehow we got it off the wreck, but the reel kept screwing up and slipping gears, as the fish battled. But 20 minutes of yelling, laughing, and excitement later, Will had his first permit in the boat!
Every summer since I have been a guide, Pete and Christy bring the boys down to Naples from Philly, and it seems, every year, we just keep on having more fun, and the fish keep getting more special. To see these boys get on a fish, that I personally obsess over when the seas allow me to get out to them in my little flats boat, continues to reinforce and build on the reason I made this my full time profession! And I never get tired of picking up a permit that is ready!Tags: family fishing, fishing charters in naples, kids fishing, naples charter fishing, naplescaptain, naplesfishingguide, naplesinshorefishing, permit, permit fishing