The last two days I fished with Captain Drew Delashmit and Kathryn Linville.

With the March Merkin fast approaching, we decided to devote our time solely to permit.

Day One:

With wind and good visibility, we had a great bunch of conditions for permit fishing. We started at 8 AM, and in the morning found a few tailers to throw at. Kathryn was up first, and while a few of the casts were right on target the fish were noncompliant. Kathryn had maybe 6 shots at fish before I shouldered her off the bow, and I had about the same number of shots at fish that wanted very little to do with us before we moved on. Of note was a cast that landed outside a nice phalanx of approaching fish that garnered some good interest but never made it to the goal line.

We left these fish in search of new water, in which we hoped would reside some more interested parties. As soon as we arrived at the second spot, there was a group of three permit mudding. Kat wasn’t quite ready, but had a good (though late) shot at them nonetheless. One of the three looked hard at the fly but then saw the boat and blew out.

Soon after this Drew spotted a pair of mudding fish. Kat made three casts at the pair: the first was behind them, the second was too far in front of them, and the third landed in between them. In response to the first two there was little reaction from the fish, but the third was enough to spook the lead fish and interest the rear. The remaining fish stuck around, looked at the fly, and hit it as she stripped it. After a tense moment of line-clearing, Kat got the fish on the reel and commenced with the pulling. As Drew poled after the fish I saw a large fish tailing nearby, and hopped out of the boat to wade after the flag. It spooked before I had a chance to throw at it, and while I waded along looking for another target I soon stopped looking for fish to catch but instead at a fish that was actually being caught. From 100 yards away, I watched the tense-netting moment unfold, and when I saw Drew and Kat high-five I knew the deed was done. I walked toward the boat in time to see the pictures that Drew was taking, using the fact that I was already in the water to take the fish for a brief walk before letting it go. We weighed the fish at 18 pounds before releasing it. Here’s the evidence:

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After this, I was up. With what we had seen leading up to Kat catching this fish I assumed it would quickly be time for a shot, but I was wrong. Instead, we hunted around for nearly an hour before we found some bonefish. I hooked one, and soon after seeing a large group of lemon sharks approaching the fish decided to break him off. In another half hour we saw a single fish, and I made an imperfect cast to the fish. My second cast at the fish was also poorly engineered, and while I left it in play it wasn’t close enough to be of sufficient interest.

After this we entered a long dry spell, which left us without a target. In fine form, Drew pushed through the difficult afternoon and towards the end of the day had us on another edge that was undoubtedly a good call. We found tailing fish, though a strange thing happened. While we had sun, the fish seemed to be nearly invisible in the late light. We stared into the water as hard as we could, and still spooked a few off from our shadows before we even noticed them. I had a number of shots at the ghosts before the clock rang out and the day was done.

Day Two:

We started near where we had found fish the day before, though within an hour we had found nothing and decided to run to a new place in search of some new targets.

There, Drew pushed for nearly two hours. We saw barracuda, rays, sharks of all kinds, and even a few errant cobia-but no permit. Kat finally caved and caught a nice bonefish to pass the time:

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We drifted on into the early afternoon, and soon a shot at our target appeared. The fish got behind the fly but never took part, and our next shot was the same. Once again the fish was all up on the fly but unable to make anything with the opportunity. On my third shot, at a larger single fish, we hoped for more. At the moment we threw our second shot at the fish, however, a cloud appeared and blocked out our light. My third cast was made in the cloud, with nothing but assumption (a terrible thing in permit fishing) to rely on.

Unbelievably, the fish ate the fly as I stripped and we were tight to the beast in the clouds. Drew poled down the fish as I pulled, and Kat deployed the net when the fish got close. Soon, we had our first permit of the day in the net and posing for photos. We weighed the fish at 21 pounds before letting it go:

21# Permit with Drew and Kate

After that Kat was up, and she didn’t need much to get it done. Her first two shots were good, but the fish didn’t react the way they should have. On her third shot, on a fish that had been recently flushed by a flock of cormorants, she dropped the fly in front of the business end and set the hook when the fish ate. After a short fight, I netted my wife’s fish and we were all in great spirits:

kate 15# with Drew

 

It’s hard to ask for more than two fish in a day, and while we tried hard for another one it was not to be. We finished throwing at the impossible ghosts from the day before, and headed home.

 

I’d like to thank Drew for a pair of amazing days on the water, and I’m definitely (not) looking forward to fishing against him and Kathryn in the Del Brown.

Next week with Scott Collins and Kat, report will be up before the Merkin the week after.

 

nat