Confessions of a Steelhead Guide - Saltwater Part Three

Travis De Boer - 02/21/17

Close up of a Permit fish.

I am positive my life will not be the same having experienced them.

In the final chapter of Travis' 3-part story about his first saltwater fly fishing adventure, he recalls the demonic permit. A fish that demands perfection and will snub any good angler just for it's own self righteous reasons. Having spent a number of hours chasing permit myself, I can see why these fish are so maddeningly addictive. Travis' reenactment of pursuing the almighty permit sums up the game for those that haven't yet had a chance. If you are up for a challenge, permit will be your quarry.

Part Three - Permit

  1. Preconceived notions
    Knowing these fish have a rep for being one of the most, if not the most difficult fly fishing adversary did not stop me from both underestimating them as a species but also how much I would utterly fall in love with them. Even after just getting my ass handed to me by them for two weeks straight and knowing that there was no way in hell I (of all people) was ever going to actually catch one. But how could you not underestimate this fish they are a flat sluggish looking fish, admittedly cute, but how could anyone ever take such a cartoony looking creature serious?
  2. Truth
    The rumors of this fish being difficult are an understatement and I am a dumb ass. I now fully understand that this fish was sent here by Beelzebub to not only make men understand they are small, weak and easily defeated but also to possess mens soul’s in the same demonic fashion. These fish beat me, destroyed my ego and quite literally left me bleeding at one point when I fell and got mangled in some dead coral. I was trying to make one more cast at what had to be the tenth permit of the morning where I had been snubbed, mockingly and repeatedly by creature’s who apparently not only have an IQ of 220 and can see you blink from three hundred meters away, but also have a sadistic sort of evil infused into their very molecules that is rarely encountered in this earth. This may seem like an exaggeration but it feels all too real when you are getting to know this amazing animal. I new it was a bad sign when still bleeding and positive I did not have what it takes to capture one that I text a friend who had warned me about them “I think I’m in love”. What is it about impossible situations that drive us to search for acceptance and approval or (even mercy) in places and situations we are almost sure to find none. Bruised, bleeding, mangled and conceding to these animals an all too easy victory on their side (vowing a rematch mind you) I tried to quit. My awesome wife pushed me to go one more day before we had to make our way back to civilization. I did it (if only to not look like a quitter in front of her). I am beyond happy to report that the conditions, huge amounts of help, pointers and training from more experienced friends and a world class guide (not to mention a shit load of good old fashioned luck) put me in a position to hook and land two good sized permit on the last day before lunch. It was the coolest thing Ive even done in this sport. The saying “I’d rather be lucky than good” is the truest statement I could regurgitate and better describes the situation than anything original I can come up with.
  3. Note
    These fish are also as strong pound for pound as anything that swims in my experience.
  4. Conclusion
    In closing I would like to reiterate these are the accounts of a novice to this game and simply some things that if I had known before may have gotten me off the bench sooner. They also come with a warning these are dangerously addictive pursuits and I am positive my life will not be the same having experienced them. I would say also in closing that it is wise to practice all the things they warn you about in all the media you’ll ever run into on this subject 1) practice casting, accuracy, distance and tight wind cutting loops will drastically improve your odds at all of the above whether its hitting the edge of a mangrove for tarpon hitting the suspected path of a school of bones or trying to find the sweet spot in the path of a permit with out spooking him (while having buck fever that rivals anything in the elk woods, if your like me). 2) Understanding and using hook sets that match each critter and be ready at all times to do it right. Nothing like losing that tarpon and knowing it’s because you hit him with a mean cutty set (this I know). 3) Dialed gear is a must (a must!) 4) Expect a challenge and enjoy it cause if you landed on the flats you asked for it! 5) Lastly and perhaps most importantly I would like to say I got a grand slam in that last twenty four hours, not just that I doubled up on permit! Boooooom! (This last one is literally just bragging and mainly just to bug Bo as much as possible cause it keeps him mean and a little stressed out and that’s how we like him).

- Travis De Boer

Previous Confessions...

Part One - Bonefish
Part Two - Tarpon

  • Travis de Boer Permit
  • Permit on the fly.
  • Permit fly fishing.
  • Permit.