The Permit Story

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By Louis Cahill

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, and if you’ve spent any time fly fishing salt water, you have.

I was talking with my buddy Bruce Chard yesterday. Thank God for living vicariously through my friends! Since I’ve been dealing with multiple eye surgeries, I haven’t touched a fly rod in five months. I haven’t been five days without casting a rod in twenty years, so I’m losing my mind and talking fishing with my friends is the only thing that keeps me going.

My buddy Scott had just sent me a photo of a friend of his with a huge permit. He was holding the rod, holding the permit and grinning like a cheshire cat, was Bruce. Just by chance, Bruce called me with in the hour, so I had to get the story. The story was not only familiar but a little disheartening. 

This guy had never fly fished. He was in the keys visiting family and his brother-in-law had Bruce booked for the week and gave one of his days to this guy and his wife. Bruce poled them around a little and when they started losing interest, he took them to some nice spots to snorkel and picnic. I’m sure they had a blast but it makes me want to bang my head on the wall. You booked one of the best flats guides on the planet to take you snorkeling? OK.

“We’ve got about an hour left,” Bruce told them, “Why don’t we go check out this permit flat.”

Bruce was thinking he’d at least do a little scouting for the next day when he would be fishing his client who generously offered his day to these folks. A guy deserves a permit after such a gesture, right?

Bruce poles up on the flat and, as soon as they are ready to fish, he sees a permit swimming right to the boat from six O’clock. Not an ideal shot and no time to turn the boat.

“Throw that thing out as far as you can behind the boat,” 

Bruce tells his angler in a matter of fact tone, knowing that thirty feet was the absolute best he could hope for in a cast. He was right and as soon as the crab pattern hit the water the permit rushed over and ate it. The angler never saw the fish.

“Set the hook!!! Hit him hard! HARD,” Bruce yells.

“I hit him,” replies the angler.

“No you didn’t, hit him again, harder.”

In a few minutes the dude is posing for a photo with a fish who’s name he doesn’t even know. Judging from the photo, the permit was about 25 pounds and took him deep into his backing. Not a bad first day of fly fishing. I’m sorry, snorkeling.

When they got home, this dudes brother-in-law was blown away that he’d caught a permit, and a big one at that. He was so excited that he invited the guy out with him the next day. Clearly he has a horseshoe up his butt, it couldn’t hurt to have him on the boat, right? 

The next day they head out and, sure enough, this dude steps up on the bow and with in a few minutes another permit swims right to the boat at 12 O’clock. He never sees this one either. Bruce just sat for his best cast at twelve, and again, the permit couldn’t eat the fly fast enough.

This one is even bigger and it runs straight for a wad of dead mangroves washed up from the hurricane. It takes the line right through the jungle and heads for open water. Bruce ran the boat over and jumps in the water, fighting with the snarled line and trying desperately to keep pressure on the fish. He eventually frees the line, and again, in a few minutes the angler is posing for a photo with his second permit. His brother-in-law, who invited him, never got a shot at a fish.

Like I said, if you’ve spent any time fly fishing in the salt, you’ve heard a story just like this. It’s always the first-timer or completely hopeless angler, the ones guides call Gomer, who gets the permit. I don’t know how the fish know but damned if they can’t target those anglers with blinding precision. It never fails. I can only assume they do it to keep the rest of in our place.

I don’t care, it doesn’t phase me. I’ve already got my permit days for next year booked and I’m stoked. I figure, now that I’m blind, I’m going to be hip deep in permit!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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12 thoughts on “The Permit Story

  1. I hosted anglers to Tarpon Caye.Lodge Belize for several years thru 2008. And it never failed that the guy new to salt water fly fishing and permit not only got 1 but 2 permit. Crazy world- it’s like the fish know.

  2. Fly fishing is a miracle! I taught my boys about fly fishing and tying flies when they were about five years old we lived on a lake as soon as a tie to fly They what Flyfish and I caught bluegill after bluegill and that’s how it all started my two sons Gunnar And Gannon , I live in Key West Florida and white boys come down quite often! Are used to use My 47 foot cruiser inc . As the mothership and we had three flat boats tied to her our guide was the famous Ben benson my three boys Gunnar,, Gannon and Todd Collins. for almost 20 years fly fishing, Gannon just got back from the Seychelles a magical trip , My boy is that I have fished over the world! I have two grandsons Gunnar 11 add Garrett they live on black walnut lake in Michigan USA they fish every day And then the winner they ice fish, Gunnar 11 Call 831 inch walleye, It’s Father Gunnar ass little Gunnar Astor if you wanted to get it bound it , he said no let’s throw it back a little breed walleyes for the future! I have many stories about my sons hunting, trapping and fish like me he will do it to the day that Die I have a granddaughter named Saylor She also is a fisherman or a fishing woman or fishing girl , l am Sailor and I have sailer The world catching women in every port! Yes as of many women have said evil in a good way! Don’t drag Anchor‍♀️‍♀️ 55

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