Permit rank very highly on my list of favorite fish to catch, they can be caught in all Florida waters as well as the Bahamas and Caribbean.
Here on Florida’s west coast I target nearshore and offshore wrecks and reefs with the occasional opportunity to catch them around the passes in May, June and July on the full and new moon tide phases. Stalking them on the flats is mostly a Florida Keys thing, but is very exciting and something you should consider doing for sure.
Permit as large as 40 to 50 pounds are possible with fish in the 15 to 25 pound range much more common. Small live crabs are by far the best bait. Dead pieces of crabs will also work and they have been known to at times take a live shrimp.
Small hooks on light leaders work best. I use my 30 pound class Bull Bay spinning rods with a fast tip and team it up with a Quantum Smoke 50 spinning reel. I spool my reels with 30 pound Spiderwire Ultracast Invisabraid and use a 25 or 30 pound fluorocarbon leader.
The offshore water in the summer is often very clean so dropping down to even a 20 pound fluorocarbon leader can help at times. You may lose a few but getting bit sometimes is the hardest part.
Using a small spit shot just above the hook will help get the crab down deep enough to draw a strike if free lining is not working. On calm days you may even run into a school just floating on top with their dorsal fins out of the water. Their silver sides will flash in the sun like little mirrors on the water.
These fish usually feed really well if not terribly spooked. Permit usually swim in circles around the structure, so a little patience and setting up correctly on the structure are big keys to success.
Some captains believe even the shadow of your boat over the structure can be enough to spook them. I have had really good luck setting up right on top of the piece and using my trolling motor GPS anchoring system to stay in place. This works really well and you don’t spook the fish when dropping the anchor.
Add some permit to your summer catch list! They’re a great fight and mighty tasty treat on the grill as well!
Catch Capt. Michael Anderson every Saturday morning on News CH8 at 6:30 a.m. for the Reel Animals Fishing Show and Saturdays on 970WFLA from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Sunday mornings on AM620 for the TA Mahoney Co. Reel Animals Radio Show from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. To book a trip call 1-866-Gamefish.