I ran into an old friend of mine, Capt Tadd Vandemark, at a trade show a few weeks ago. We, of course, immediately talked fishing- he tells me he's moved from the Keys to Ft Myers, but he is still hammering the permit.... BIG permit, as I can see from the pictures on his phone.
"You've got to come down with a couple of kids and film a show." Tadd says.
I never turn down an open invitation to take kids to catch fish like that. So today is the day! We grab our anglers, Cooper & Michael, meet up with Tadd, who has a livewell full of small pass crabs (permit candy.) We run out of Boca Grande Inlet to a nearshore wreck, within sight of the beach.
"The water is not as clear as it usually is," Tadd explains, "and the current is still running a little hard. When the tide slacks, we will get them."
For the next two hours, we drift small, live pass crabs over the wreck with no takers... It's mid-August, late in the season for permit, but Tadd says there are still a few monsters hanging around. As the tide begins to slack, one of the reels starts screaming- this is a good fish!
Our angler Michael, is new to the sport of fishing, but had a great attitude, and was ready to dive in and learn. As the big permit ran circles around the boat, Michael followed- listening to the instructions being barked from two excited Captains, Tad and myself.
As a new angler, I'm not sure Michael knows the world class fish that is on the other end of his line. Permit are strong fighters, and this one is HUGE! Finally, Michael wrestles the fish boat side, and I am able to reach down and grab his tail. WOW, what a permit, every bit of 25lbs!
Talk about a happy boat, all you could see were smiles and slimy 5's! We shoot a quick segment for tv, and get lots of great still shots with Michael's fish.
Let's do it again, it's Cooper's turn!
Within minutes, another huge permit takes the bait- game on! Cooper says he's caught a lot of bass and a nice kingfish before- but no fish ever gave him a fight like this permit.
The same drill, all the way around the boat, we pull the anchor, the fish swims all the way around the boat several times before Cooper can swing him boat side for landing.
"I've got him!" as another round of Slimy 5's passes through the crew. This fish was close to the same size as the one before, and is just what the doctor ordered.
We only had two bites today, but our anglers Cooper & Michael sure made the most of them! We wanted to stay and catch a few more, but the storms continuing to build along the beach caused us to call it a day, and head to the marina.
Another great day, finally getting the chance to fish with an old friend, with two new anglers who I'd like to think because of today's experience, will be fisherman for life and continue to pass on the Salt Life.