The shallow flats of Mexico, Belize and the Florida Keys are well-known for world-class permit fishing. Less known is that each spring, spawning permit of gigantic proportions mass around wrecks and reefs that are often within sight of land.
Location, location, location: Finding structures that hold these fish is a matter of trial and error. But once located, the same structures will produce fish year after year. Search structures in 20 to 40 feet of water with 10 to 15 feet of relief. On occasion, a school of fish can be seen as a purple mass "tailing" over the structure, but more often than not, the fish stay deep and out of sight.
Pro logic: A permit's diet is primarily crustaceans, and the fish are particularly fond of small "dollar" blue crabs or portunid "pass" crabs. Anchor uptide of the structure. Attach a quarter-ounce forged jig head to 18 inches of 40-pound fluorocarbon, and use 50-pound braid as your main line. Begin a chum line with frozen block chum and sweeten the slurry with small pieces of fresh shrimp. Hook the crab through the point of the carapace and allow your bait to freeline in the tide. If present, be ready for something just short of a rocket-propelled torpedo on your line and the best of seafood on the table.
Robert McCue can be contacted at 1-800-833-0489