On Monday I fished with Captain Bruce Chard.
The days leading up to our trip were windy, warm, and sunny–perfect conditions for permit. I had discussed with Bruce our plan for the following day on Sunday, and we were ready with clear lines and 9 weights for an assault on the local permit population.
When I woke up on Monday morning, the clouds had moved in and we were basically blacked out. Despite this, we made the decision to go–Bruce felt confident we might find some tailing permit, and had a few other ideas up his sleeve.
Our first stop was a flat shallow enough to allow for some tailing, and within 20 minutes we were putting a stalk on a fish that was breaking the surface every few minutes. The only thing that would have made it a better opportunity would have been more consistent behavior from the fish–as it was, when I saw the fish tail 40 feet away I had to cast immediately for fear of losing the target. My cast landed just a hair too close for comfort, and while the fish didn’t blow out completely he did flush and we saw him only briefly afterwards.
After an hour on the same flat, hoping for more tails, we began our search for more. We probably ran to four or five more areas in search of tailing fish, we found only one.
This time, the fish tipped up about 15 feet from the boat, and while I made a cast at it I came up short. The fish blew out, and base don the water it took with it we both commented that this was a very large permit.
Following another tailless hour, Bruce mentioned that we might want to try something different. I, of course, was in need of no convincing. The water was cool, it was overcast, and we hadn’t seen much–what better time than to look for some big laid up tarpon? I had my doubts but kept them to myself, trusting Bruce and hoping for the best.
While I didn’t have all of my 6 lb gear with me, I did have a spool of pre-tested leader, my tarpon tag, and some flies on light hooks: more than enough gear to give it a shot. As we ran I tied up a quick tippet, picked a fly, and looped it on to my leader. By the time we arrived, I was all set.
What followed was pretty amazing: as we poled along an edge we blew out a fish. Quickly we saw another, though this fish was also too close to give us a good shot. Our third fish gave us an opportunity, and while it tracked the fly for 30 feet we couldn’t make the monster eat. It’s worth mentioning that I don’t use the word ‘monster’ here lightly: every one of these fish was over 100 pounds, and some appeared much larger. In fact, only one fish we saw wouldn’t have qualified as a potential 6 lb record contender.
We saw probably 25 fish, and most were too close to the boat to properly cast to. That said, we did deliver the fly to four or five fish that turned off it; even after a fly change we couldn’t get one to crack, and when the light fell away completely we weren’t far behind. We left the day fishless, though exhilarated and with visions of giants bouncing around our heads.
I want to thank Bruce for an incredible day; I hope to fish with him more often. And thanks as always to the tarpon–you are the best.