November 26, 2012
I opened our room door at 5:30 expecting a whim of cold air like the last few days, but there wasn’t. A t-shirt would suffice for my first cup of coffee. More delighting, there were few clouds overhead. Today we were going permit fishing with Pedro.
For starters we motored right over the rolling tarpon at the mouth of the Belize River. Then we zoomed by the channel markers where I landed the tripletail. We skipped the snook holes and skirted south past Belize City and made a 45 minute run to Pedro’s favorite permit grounds.
Once there I handed Granny my 10-weight RX with a brown crab pattern securely loop knotted to a 16lb leader then I scanned ahead for tails. “I’m fishing?” she pointed to herself with a look of surprise. Granny was fishing and she knows how hard permit are on the fly. She didn’t have the confidence in her cast. But I convinced her that after yesterday, you never know.
Two minutes later we found three more permit and these were tailing. These were nice permit, easily 15lbs judging from the width of their flopping black trimmed tails. They were a good 80ft out and due to calm conditions we couldn’t go any closer for fear of spooking them. Even with encouragement, Granny wouldn’t attempt the long toss. Any other fish species in the world and I’d of insisted. But I go crazy for permit.
I grabbed the rod and ripped off another 20ft of fly line and quietly perched myself on the bow of our panga. Then I side armed the crab right in front of the lead fish (A heavy crab lands much softer with a side arm cast. Then there’s less chance of spooking the fish). His tail rose and flapped as I pulled ever so slowly. There’s no doubt he saw my fake but rather than eat the fly he did a quick circle around it. I bumped it again with several short strips but he refused it again and moved away.
I stripped in like a mad man and launched another cast right in front of them again. Now they were near 90ft away. My crab sank inches in front of all three. I pulled slowly then added several short strips. The finicky fish twirled around with interest but moved away again. I ended up with five good casts to these permit before they finally got suspicious and slipped to deeper water out of sight. Damn!
When fishing the flats you almost always encounter something else cool other than the fishing. Today we came across a herd of manatees feeding in a bay. I see a lot of them every time I come to Belize but today was unique in that we got to essentially hang out with them for as long as we wanted. They are so strange!