The Permit, Trachinotus falcatus
Deeper body and blunter head than the Pompano. Large, sickle-shaped tail. Scutes absent. Silver overall; sometimes has a black blotch on side under the pectoral fin. Like Pompano, small Permit may also show some yellow on the underside.
SIZE: Can run as high as 40 or 50 pounds, with 20-30- pounders fairly common. World record 60 pounds; Florida record 56 pounds, 2 ounces.
FOOD VALUE: When small enough to be confused with Pompano, the confusion extends to the table. Both are excellent.
GAME QUALITIES: Rates as one of the very best game- fish—a long runner on the flats and a strong, stubborn deep fighter offshore. Also one of the most challeng- ing to fool, especially with artificial lures.
TACKLE AND BAITS: Although offshore Permit are large enough to provide sport with light and medium saltwater tackle, the epitome of Permit fishing is to stalk them by sight on shallow flats, and cast directly to them. Light spinning, baitcasting and fly tackle can be used in the shallows—provided the angler has a good supply of line and a means (a guide with a push- pole, preferably) of chasing the fish. Best natural bait is any sort of small live crab. Dead pieces of crab and lobster also work well. Live shrimp are often accept- ed, especially if skittered across the surface, and then allowed to sink. If using small skimmer (Bonefish- style) jigs, try to get the Permit to follow the lure, then stop it dead and let it sink into the grass or mud. Best flies are those with weighted or epoxy heads that will sink in the manner of a leadhead jig.
FISHING SYSTEMS: Casting; Still Fishing.
RANGE: All Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.
HABITAT: Permit are found in the surf, inlets and passes of both coasts, but are more numerous in the southern half of the state. In warm weather, they roam South Atlantic reefs and many Gulf wrecks.“Classic” Permit stalking on the flats is largely confined to Dade County and the Florida Keys, as well as the Bahamas and Caribbean.