Earlier in the week I spent a morning on the water with Ian Slater. Joining us was Jake from Bonefish Tarpon Trust, who has been working on implanting acoustic tags in permit to track their movements through an array of receivers placed throughout the lower Keys. Had we been serious about catching a permit it may have made sense to bring some live crabs, though Ian and I were a tough sell on this. It may have been for the better, especially since Ian and I have between us a total of zero experience fishing for these fish in that way. We left crabless, though we did bring a barracuda outfit to keep us busy if the cold water didn’t contain any permit to throw at.

At our first stop we looked for permit. Finding none, and with water temperatures well below 70, we left for a look for some barracuda. At our first stop in search of teeth we found none, though when Ian called the wind-in a pair of large cudas showed up (of course), giving us a half-hearted follow before continuing on their way toward deeper water. We made a short run nearby, and Jake got on the bow with the barracuda rod in hand for a shot. Ian found us a shot at a large fish early on, and while the cast was in play the fish was totally disinterested. Jake took another shot at a pair of fish that again expressed dissatisfaction with being fished for, and I took the rod for a few shots. These fish couldn’t be bought with the currency we carried, and after another three or four shots we were on our way to find some other animals to play with.

We took a run to an area farther away, searching for some lee to the wind that was now causing some problems for our casting. We weren’t the only ones with this idea, so we had to make few amendments to our plan in order to fit into the mix. We had two or three shots at smaller barracuda that showed some interest though never found the large fish we were hoping to find.

For our final move, Ian went back nearby where we’d started and we made a final stand for the water wolf. The fish were there, and in numbers: we had perhaps a half dozen shots at giant barracuda that were about as easily convinced by our efforts as Cormac McCarthy is by the Oxford comma, and when Ian spotted a permit mudding on the bank I passed off the cuda rod to Jake and took the feather crab flinger out for a toss.

The fly landed in position but with some slack, and it was hard to see the fish. The permit turned hard after the fly and lined it up, and for a brief second Ian and I were both full of expectant silence. I took a few long check strips in hope of coming tight, but the tension never came. We saw another small group of permit that I couldn’t reach into the wind before our time was up and we had to get home.

I was especially sad to not have hooked that particular permit, since it would have been cool to watch Jake do his science implant stuff, but that’s what we get for omitting the live crabs from our arsenal. In all it was a fun day that was almost epic, and it was fun to throw at the local water wolf population again.

 

Currently, the weather’s great and looks like it will remain that way through next week. There are plenty of permit and barracuda around, and I’d be surprised if the bonefish weren’t out there as well.

Monday I’m headed to the Everglades to fish with Steve and Chad, though Ian may accompany us for the first day due to a work conflict from Chadillac. A report will follow as usual, and here’s hoping that it will have a different ending this time.

 

nate