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Furious fight with a permit

March 19, 2011

After three back-to-back days of charter fishing I took the next day off and went fishing accompanied by Capt. Brian Davis of Matlacha. Go figure.

Some bigger reds were being caught along with rat reds so we decided to fish some past productive redfish areas. The previous three days my guests had caught 30 to 60 fish, mostly trout and ladyfish, each day. Today was very different as cloudless, high blue skies and high pressure shut down the fishing.

We cast the flats for an hour and were finally rewarded with a small jack, the first of the season. As we drifted along, big boils would appear as the big reds would spook and leave the area at warp speed. It was pretty obvious that no one was interested in playing today. After three days of occasional small reds, tons of ladyfish, trout and Spanish macs suddenly it seemed everyone had packed up and left town.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

Brian said, "Look at that boil!" Turning, I fired a long cast in that direction and started my retrieve. Within two turns of the reel handle I had a strong strike, felt a series of confused head shakes, and suddenly the fish was headed for the horizon as the drag screamed.

Finally, we had connected with a big red and it felt like it was in the 10- to 12-pound range and fought very hard on the light tackle. As the fight continued on toward the 10-minute mark, the fish was starting to tire.

I kept feeling a series of constant head shakes as it swam and I remarked that it may be a big jack because of the head shaking. We had not seen the fish yet and I was starting to worry that after such a prolonged fight the hook might pull free. We might never know what it was, which would have caused me many future sleepless nights.

After a few more anxious moments, a beautiful, solid chrome permit swam into view. Tired, the fish started to roll as Brian grabbed the tail and gently brought him aboard for some quick pictures and a strong release. Even though this guy was in the mid 20-inch range and really thick, I was astounded it wasn't three times its size considering his fighting ability. Good eye, Capt. Brian!

Permit and pompano are difficult to identify and easily are mistaken as they are very similar in appearance. Of course, if your pomp is as big as a trash can lid, it's not a pompano, it's an adult permit. There are color clues as well as fin markers (ray counting) that ID the two when they are similar in size.

Every year folks catch quite a few permit here, mostly offshore, and some bonefish - even though it's in the north of their range. Catching one on a lure in skinny, clear inshore waters is a treat. If you put your time in fishing nearshore wrecks in our area you definitely will run into nice permit. Spring dates are still available, let's go fishing!

The Cape Coral Kiwanis Club conducts its 23rd annual Free Kid's Fishing Derby on April 2 at the Cape Coral Yacht Club fishing pier. The derby starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m.

All boys and girls ages 5 through 15 are invited. No advance registration is necessary. Just show up at the pier and check in before 8:30 a.m. Rods, reels and bait are provided by the club.

The derby is limited to 400 kids.

All participants receive a rod and reel. Trophies will be awarded to the 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-place largest fish and a trophy is awarded for the smallest fish. Bicycles will be given away as door prizes

The Kiwanis Club strongly urges parents to attend. Younger participants should be accompanied by an adult. For additional information, call Wally Laumeyer at 772-8678.

This is a good event. Bring the kids!

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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