Anyway, let’s get back on track. When my knee was very bad this time last year, i took quite a bit of time off driving the boats as was recommended by my Dr in London. Of course when you have little or no cartilage in the knee, standing all day while driving a rocking boat is painful. However, i couldn't stand being away from the water, so took up fly fishing with my uncle Jim.
Last year i caught about 5 of them and spent a hell of a lot of time out on the flats trying to catch more. Fly fishermen can be happy just seeing them.
Now for the second fish and the main purpose of today's blog. My uncle Jim isn't as interested in Bone Fish as he is in Permit.
Permit are much larger fish feeding on some of the same stuff that bones do, but specifically like eating crabs. The type of crabs that they go after are not much larger than an inch and seem to live under small rocks and pieces of dead coral on the shallow flats beds. These fish are much larger than bone fish and on average must be about 20 lbs in Antigua. They feed in the same areas though and are as strong as bone fish. They get easily spooked too and you have to be exceptionally quiet and move ever so slowly when they are around. You stalk them like you see a lion stalking a gazelle. One false move and the permit is gone as the gazelle would too. These fish are even more difficult to catch on Fly and i doubt there is a more difficult fish to catch anywhere. I think my obsessed uncle has been hunting and stalking them for about 5 years without ever catching one. There have been many interesting articles on how they feed and why it’s so difficult to catch them on fly. One theory is that they inhale the fly and spit it out in one split second motion once they taste or feel that it’s not a real crab. I have had them follow my fly (fake crab) dozens of times and even had they try to bite it, but have never caught one either. You see them on the shallow flats when their tails or fins stick out when trying to get crabs from under a rock. They also don't particularly like to chase a moving fly which poses a problem. Where we find them, there is usually plenty on the bottom to get snagged on, so if you let your fly fall to the bottom you are in trouble. To avoid this you have to be ever so careful to retrieve the fly slowly enough to make it look like a crab and not too slow that it gets snagged. It’s a mission which is why so few people have caught them. In fact, i don’t think anyone has ever caught one in Antigua on fly until yesterday.
My uncle Jim and a friend of his today finally scored one on fly. The friend had fished all over the world trying to get one and was elated to finally get his glory. The fish wasn't that large but it was a permit and that's what counts. Jim's wife Mossy told me that the two great hunters came home grinning and joking like two teenage kids. Congrats jimbo!
The pics are of Jim holding a bonefish before we had the booger grip and the other is of a permit that was inside stingray city for a while before they let it go. IT was huge!