What's hot: Offshore wrecks and artificial reefs are holding large schools of permit. The fish will feed off the structure, eating barnacles, shrimp and crabs. The day before I head out, I fill the well full of crabs and keep them alive overnight with a portable aerator. The strongest outgoing tides toward the end of the day are the best way to find crabs. The grass lines formed by the current usually holds them.
Tactics: Once I get to the wreck, I anchor up to the upcurrent side and wait for permit to come to the surface. The fish will get so close to the water's top, their fins will come out. Have a drop buoy attached to the end of the anchor line. This allows you to throw the line and chase fish when hooked. Permit are strong and run toward the structure when they get on the line.
Tackle: Due to the size of permit, I like to use a little heavier tackle. Ten-pound gear is too light for deep water. Thirty-pound braid with a long 30-pound fluorocarbon leader is needed to land these strong creatures. Permit have large eyes and become shy if you use anything heavier than 30-pound fluorocarbon. A large 6000 series reel capable of holding 300 yards or more of line is needed. Permit will peel off the line in seconds when hooked.
Rob Gorta charters out of St. Petersburg. Call him at (727) 647-7606 or go to www.captainrobgorta.com.