What's hot: Early summer is when schools of permit go to North Suncoast wrecks to spawn. Lately, big ones have been at large structures in water deeper than 50 feet. They do not eat fish, so they are seldom caught incidentally while fishing for other species.
Tips: Permit feed on crustaceans and mollusks almost exclusively. To coax them into biting, you need a small, live crab or live shrimp. Many times, we stumbled into them while fishing for other species and cast lures into schools that simply refused to strike. On subsequent trips to the same spots, using small, live crabs, the big permit gobbled the bait. Silver dollar-sized swimmer crabs, also known as pass crabs, are the best bait, followed by small, blue crabs. Live shrimp also can work but not as well as crabs.
Technique: Permit have keen eyesight and shy away from tackle they can see. I rig my rods with 25-pound test braided line and a 30-pound test fluorocarbon leader at least 20 feet long. This keeps the bait far enough away from the braid to make the presentation look natural. The daily limit of permit longer than 20 inches is one per person and two per boat.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at lighttacklecharters.com or at (727) 944-3474.