Photo and Story: Sticking to the Game Plan for Permit on Grand Bahama

Written by: Greg Vincent, H2O Bonefishing

Furious, yet strategic poling by the guide, and strict discipline from the angler were the keys to success with this Bahamas permit.
Photo courtesy Greg Vincent

Wind is a normal occurrence and something that we expect when we’re poling and searching the flats. It’s loud, annoying, and distracting, and it most definitely makes communication between guide and angler more challenging. However, when you spot a large fish slide onto the flat–no matter the strength of that wind–a strange and sudden silence prevails. The ears fall deaf, and it is your eyes that scream loudest as they bring into brilliant clarity the sight of a large permit on a white sand flat.

Even though we could see this fish from quite a distance, it somehow still managed to enter our world in the most difficult location possible. Randy had to pole quartering into a stiff breeze in order to intercept the moving fish. Even if we could catch up to the permit, it was not going to be an easy presentation, as the wind was always going to be over the right-handed caster’s right shoulder. Randy gritted his teeth and humped us after that permit. His quick reaction and adjustment of the skiff enabled us to “cut the corner” and to get within a 100 feet surprising quickly.

Randy had used the angle well and had closed the gap, but we now found ourselves in the uncompromising position of being downwind of a fish that was working into the wave. This would not have been our first choice, but it was the only option we had. It was that or just watch this magnificent fish slide on by and disappear to the horizon, never knowing who we were. Randy and I desperately wanted to introduce ourselves, so he poled after the fish, keeping it constantly at our 11 o’clock.  This permit remained antagonizingly close as we followed it into the wind, but we could never quite close the gap enough to make a cast. There is a delicate balance in these circumstances when following permit: the harder you pole, the more likely you will make a noise that will either spook the permit outright or will create enough suspicion that even if you do close that gap, the fish may not be comfortable enough to eat. Randy managed the situation perfectly, keeping us in the game as we hoped that the fish would slow just that fraction enough for us to make up those all-important last few feet. There were several times we came close enough to consider a cast, but we stuck to our game plan of this being a one-shot deal. We would only loose the fly at 50 feet or less. 

After chasing this fish for almost a ¼ mile, an opportunity finally presented itself and I finally made the cast. Fortunately for us, it was good enough, and the permit ate. The rest is history, as they say, but this success was not about that one cast, the one strip, or the hook set. Those are the standard requirements that are needed in this game, and they were certainly not the determining factor. The true success was that of the chase, the constant communication between guide and angler, and the rigid discipline we applied to the game plan.

Thank you Randy, Thanks for the lifetime memory.

Greg Vincent is a co-owner of H2O Bonefishing on Grand Bahama Island.

H2O Bonefishing on Grand Bahama Island is opening on November 1. There are still two spots left for the Orvis Hosted trip Nov 11 – 15, offering anglers the chance to be among first to access the renowned flats of Grand Bahama Island after an 18-month hiatus. Contact Dan Davala at Orvis Travel: travel@orvis.com; 1-800-547-4322.

Grand Bahama is known for its expansive flats and great fishing.

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