Day 4 was awesome, no other way to describe it. The hopes were high, but also running low in the tank. It was the last day, and of our immediate group of 4 that came together, only one Permit had been caught, and it was on a bamboo fly rod.
Ryan and I set out with Alonzo and Fabian and headed south to a huge flat short of the barrier islands we normally pass through. We saw nothing but the Barracuda that were policing the edges for stray quarry. We moved onto a flat close to where Davis had caught his fish a day prior. A couple fish came up from the rear, of which we tried to chase, but seeing they were on a mission, getting back in the boat was the right call. It was Ryan’s turn, fish here, fish there but nothing really came of it except a decent shot Ryan had at a group of feeding fish right up to his rod tip. He casted the fly, fish ate right upon landing and was not detected.
We move on down the bay at full throttle. The boat instantly comes off plane to a lot of chaotic Spanish, pointing that created nothing but chaos. Not a moment that instills confidence and calmness. I was rushed to the bow, my rod practically thrown at me in this moment of confusion. I elevated my self while stripping line on the bow, looked up and there it was, a school of about 250-300 permit of decent size. Now let me backtrack to the point leading up to this. In the preceding 3 days, I have had to explain to the other guides everyday that I am using only one fly. Because of language barriers, (keep in mind they do speak pretty good english) it is still hard to help a Mexican Permit guide understand why the hell I would want to use only one fly. So I threw it, and I threw it, and still threw it into the meat wad of silver…nothing. I changed it up to my Bonefish size Ever. Spec., still nothing. Ryan then took the bow, armed with a weighted shrimp. They were dorsiling, tailing, grouping, meandering and feeding close to the surface in 4 foot of water. The school gave us plenty of shots. Finally, Alonzo threw the white Raghead crab at me, and said…”you must use this fly, you must…other fly no work, never will.” So, at some point it’s not just my fish anymore, it’s the guide’s, the team’s fish also. I gave in, without a whole lot of fight, and threw the non Everglades Special fly into the school, and bam, full rod tilt. After the fish was landed, I was happy, with out “fly change regret.” I had come this far, tried, tried, tried and gave in to catching a Permit however I could, and I was GREAT with that.
We chased the school for a while longer, as Ryan was on the bow the rest of the day. The school disappeared, so we ate lunch and got back after it. Hope was dying, we were starting to get into overtime on this day, Ryan needed at least one more good shot to end this thing. We went back to the first flat we started on where we saw quite a few groups that morning. “Two O’Clock, tails…..get out the boat.” Ryan and Alonzo were on the trail, belly button high water, 6 foot 5 Ryan, and 5 foot Alonzo….26 inch Permit. The cast was made, settled, strip…eat. Ryan and I came back to put 2 flags on the flagpole, and ended a day of fishing I will never forget…never. Back to Charleston, and the rest of the waters and my Everglades Specials.