The first time I saw the signature black tails of permit tailing in the turquoise waters of Belize, I knew I was hooked. While that trip in 2016 proved to be unsuccessful for permit, those fish have been my primary focus on the flats ever since. Chasing the Falcatus in Mexico, Belize, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Florida Keys with a little bit of success.
After seeing a picture of Oliver White in the FlyFish Journal permit fishing in Oman, I knew I had to pursue it. It was in Oman where I first learned about the “Big 4” and how small of a club it was. The “Big 4” consists of catching and landing a T. Falcatus, a T. Blochii, a T. Africanus, and a T. Anak. After landing an Africanus and a Blochii on the first two days of my trip, the chase was on to get the slam.
As soon as I got back to the states from Oman, I contacted Josh Hutchins of Aussie Fly Fisher and booked a trip for July 2020. Unfortunately, Covid-19 had other plans and the trip was put on hold for two years. I bugged Josh quarterly about when I could come and after years of communication, I finally got the response I was after – we were on for October 2022.
Upon arriving in Cape York and getting picked up by Josh, it was the classic case of “Shoulda been here last week!”. The wind changed from an offshore to an onshore, and the swell picked up wrecking most of the flats and dispersing the big schools of Anak permit they had been seeing. We had two hard days of big swells, dirty water, and very few fish on the flats. We used the 3rd day to scout for clean water and found it. The clean water was too far for continuous day trip, so we loaded up the boat with camping gear and a few days’ worth of food and headed out.
The swell and wind followed us, but the flats stayed clean. On the 4th day after a slow start and a few failed shots, I was starting to feel the pressure. Shortly after, our luck changed and we spotted 3 big Anak permit floating in. I dropped a flexo crab on the group of fish and the back fish peeled off, crushing the fly. Following a long silence and a long fight, the fish hit the net and we clenched the final permit to complete the Big 4.
What is so unique about chasing the Big 4, is that no matter which amazing fishery you tick off the Falcatus (Florida Keys/Caribbean) or the Blochii (Seychelles/Oman/Australia/etc.). The Africanus is specific to Oman and the Anak to Australia. While there are many behaviors that all 4 species of permit have in common, the biggest is that even when you do everything right, they still won’t eat a well-placed fly!
With a few trips, successes, and failures under my belt – here are some tips from a below-average fly fisherman:
- Casting – Practice. Practice. Practice. Getting comfortable casting in all conditions is essential for successful permit fishing. Be upfront and honest about your ability, and the guides will do their best to put you in the ideal casting position for your skill level. 2.
- Listen to your guides – Unless you’re putting as much time in on the flats as your guide, listen to them and learn from them on how to lead and strip the fly for their specific fishery.
- Have the right flies – Don’t get your advice from the internet. Talk directly to the guides (pre-trip) to ensure you have what you need for that particular fishery, or better yet, they provide them for you.
- Quality gear – a fast action 9 or 10 wt rod to punch through the wind and a high-quality reel with a solid drag system to put the brakes on. I like a 9wt Gloomis NRX+S with an Abel Super 9.
- LUCK – hope you have above-average luck.
Angler Story from Chase Krueger, find him on Instagram @chasekrueger11.
Check out the articles below:
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Announces $600,000 for Permit Research and Conservation