On Monday I fished with Jared Cyr for a half day. We had been talking about getting out on the water in pursuit of permit for a while, and it was good to finally make good on all the talk we’d been talking. The day before Jared had experienced great fishing, though the light had proved difficult. We’re in the middle of a mid-summer set of thunderstorms, and the cloud cover for the last five days has been frustrating. We left at 7:30 and went to where Jared had good fishing the day before, hoping to get into it.
At our first stop we found nothing, though it looked perfect. The tide was moving and the flat was alive with stingrays, turtles and other life. We gave it a hard look for a half hour before packing up and moving on. At our first stop we found that the clouds had found us, and in the glare we pushed down the bank hoping for a tail. Despite the fact that there were a few other places we wanted to be, this was a good bet based on the cloud cover for a tail and we stuck with it.
Within an hour, the clouds were beginning to evaporate and we were on our way to where Jared had found the shots the day before. Shortly we saw a large fish tail on the flat, and Jared got us into position for the shot. We had a great opportunity at the hard tailing fish, and even though we could barely see what was going on in the cloud that overcame us in the final moment the fish lined up the fly and gave a hard shake after it. I stripped to come tight but never did, instead spooking the fish off the fly with my attempted hook set. We continued on down the bank, and soon had another shot at a small group of feeding fish. This time there was no glare to get in our way, and we watched as the fish bobbed and weaved behind the fly. Three times I stripped long to come tight, and we watched as the fish approached the boat totally focused on (but not biting on) the fly. When they finally gave up from proximity we were nothing if not surprised to not be clearing line. We pushed down the bank further, and Jared soon spotted a school of large permit holding off the edge in some deeper water. He staked the boat off, and we got a cast in the middle of them. I stripped the fly slowly, watching as a few of them crossed over one another in the deeper water and waiting to come tight. On the next strip I was tight to a heavy fish, and set the hook to what we were sure was one of the permit. We stayed tight as the fish swam towards the boat, exactly as a large permit would. When the fish rose up in the water column we were surprised to discover that it was a large cobia. We were further surprised when it got closer that we had both been fooled twice, for a total of four foolings. Not a permit as we’d first thought, not a cobia as we’d thought when we first saw it: instead, a giant barracuda swam by, glaring as it passed the boat. I pulled hard and broke the fish off, and while I re-rigged the school of permit followed the barracuda in delay and flushed off the boat about the time I got a new fly on. We waited for a few minutes to see if they would return, but when it was clear that they wouldn’t we moved on.
Jared made another quick move, to another area that he thought would hold some permit. The decision making was again proved sound as we blew out a school early into our line, and we quickly found another shot to take our minds off things. Again we had the fly in play, and again the fish were all over it without a bite. We had a final shot after we crossed a channel on the same edge, this time at another school of permit. In this last case the fish blew out when the fly landed, and we headed home.
After all of the near missing we did make a pole on one more edge on the way home, hoping to excavate some redemption. We never had another shot, and had to simmer in our sad surprise that we weren’t able to convert.
Next week is mini season, so the flats will be a disaster. I’ll try to get out at some point before the days I’ve got scheduled with John and Chad, August 2-3.
More to come,