Spring fishing has returned to the bay area. Preferable water temperatures have brought seasonal migratory gamefish into our region after a long winter absence. While kingfish, mackerel, cobia, and tarpon get most of the spotlight, permit have also reappeared around many wrecks. Most offshore anglers overlook this great sport fish, mostly because permit are very particular in their diet and seldom strike baits commonly used by offshore anglers. Until November just about any wreck outside 45 feet of water will likely have at least a few permit. You may see 100 or more big ones milling around in a circle, and they can bring great action or great frustration depending on bait. They will not eat a minnow-type bait, or any small fish, live or dead. Few lures are effective. To catch them you need a crustacean. The best is a small live swimming crab such as a blue or pass crab. Live shrimp are a distant second choice. If you use braided line add a fluorocarbon leader that is 15 or 20 feet in length. If the fish see the braid near the bait they often turn away. A small hook such as a 2/0 or 3/0 completes the rig, no swivels or sinkers added.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (727) 944-3474.