18 February 2011

Islamorada Journal 2011...18 FEB

It all started off innocently enough today.

Sun was out. Seventy-five degrees. A few clouds floating in the sky.

Wayne and I had planned to get out on the water earlier, but he got tied up with the automobile insurance company that was busily trying to figure out how to give him less coverage while doubling his premiums.

I think they went to the same school as did those in my insurance company: Insurance Nazi U.

But I digress….

So we finally got out on the water around noon, planning to fish for two-three hours and call it a day.

We checked out a few muds…catching some good-sized ladyfish and some 14.99-inch spotted sea trout [they have to be 15 inches to keep]. I tried dazzling the fish with the fly rod, but today it was no-go…they wanted plastic or nothing.

Bored with slow fishing, we ran through a ditch and headed over to the area where I’d hooked that monster tarpon on 12 FEB.

We were noodling along the sandbar using the electric trolling motor when Wayne spotted movement ahead. At first he thought it was a tarpon but the image soon morphed into a nice-sized permit…he thought it would run 15-16 pounds.

We went into stealth mode: No noise. Hunched down in the boat.

Wayne took too long quietly getting a crab out of the livewell and onto the circle hook…we lost sight of the fish.

We maneuvered around, back up-wind on the electric, and then let the *wind drift us down to where we last saw the fish.

Wayne spotted him again and made his cast…the crab sailed out a bit past the fish, but Wayne brought it back in and let it settle to the bottom.

The fish grabbed it.

The line came tight on the circle hook and the battle was on.

Now, permit are not the spectacular fighters that tarpon are. Permit don’t jump out of the water...but they do make sizzling runs that strip line off the reel in no time flat.

When the fish hit, I had to scramble to get the trolling motor out of the water, get back to the con and get the big motor down [it had been trimmed up to keep in from scraping on the bottom in the shallow water], turn in on, put it in gear, and get after the fish. The initial run almost took all of the line off Wayne’s Daiwa spinning reel.

Between runs permit just turn that big, flat side of theirs toward the angler and defy you to pull them in. They are tough, tough fish. As Vic Dunaway’s Sport Fish of the Atlantic says, they are “considered by many as perhaps the best shallow-water game fish in the world, combining long distance runs with great power.”

This contest took thirty-five minutes to reach its conclusion.

We tried to weigh the fish but it bottomed the scale which only reads to thirty pounds…fish was probably in the forties.

Wayne put the fish back in the water and it swam off…but I don’t know who was more tired: Permit or Angler.

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