Grand Slam Camp, January 2023. Day 1
Seven days ago, I landed my first ever permit around 4pm. First permit on a fly rod. First permit on any sort of fishing rod. During the fight, once I had some control over the fish, James started casting at the same school. His patience was admirable considering I was screaming at him "Cast! Cast! Cast!" as soon as I hooked up. Tangles be damned, these were happy fish! Patience paid off, and James hooked his first ever permit after a few casts.
I tailed my fish, James tailed his fish. And we lost are minds. After the initial shouting and jubilation, the reality of capturing the moment set in. The shore was choked with sargasso weeds, the first 20 feet of water covered in enough sargasso to tangle up the fish, and waves breaking in the clear water. We settled for waist deep water and wave awareness.
We continued to have shots at permit, but each bite was quickly ended in a energetic fight with a small bonefish. But the permit remained within casting distance. Moving in and out of the clear water next to the sargasso choked shore. We were essentially fihsing a 100 foot wide gap between the deep Sargasso rafts. My second Permit on a fly rod, a feisty little guy, came to hand at 4:45pm.
Soon after I landed the largest bonefish of my 3 trips to the Yucatan. It put up a great fight. A bit more drama than the 1 & 2 pound bonefish that had been stealing our flies from the permit since we first spotted the school.
And a little after 5pm, I was a few hundred yards from shore, treading water, desperately trying to rid my fly line of pile of sargasso weed.
I did my best to avoid this fate. I thought I would. But for the final dash, the fish left the clean water and headed straight to the weeds.
Minutes prior, a permit tail had sliced the wave break 60 feet out. A clean cast. An aggressive follow. Halfway into the backing, I felt confident I had fed that permit and not another bonefish. The tippet held as I cleared the line. I raised the rod high as I kicked back to shallow water. A tail grab. A dream realized.
We kept fishing until dark. A few more bonefish and snapper were landed but the permit decided their kind mood was over. Soaking wet, sargasso inside our shorts and shirts, we hiked back to the car in high spirits. What a first day!