The only fish every fisherman knows exactly how many they’ve caught

Written by Rob Mukai on Dec. 17, 2015

Tags: Saltwater Fly Fishing DIY Grand Slam Permit


As a trout fisherman, I have long since lost count of how many trout I have caught. Any more, a lot of times, I don't even remember how many I catch in a day much less ever. A friend of the Inn, Dustin Carlson of Fishwest, made the observation that the only fish he knows exactly how many he has caught is permit. I think you could ask any fisherman how many permit they have caught and they can tell you exactly. For the record I have caught 4 5 6 7[8](. And it’s not just because you don't catch many. I know a guide in Placencia, Belize who has a customer who's goal is to catch 100 permit. He has named some flats like number 69, for the flat that he caught his 69th permit.

Rob's first permit, caught right here in Chetumal Bay

And it’s not just because they are hard to catch. Even though steelhead are difficult to catch, I know many people who couldn't tell you how many they have caught. So what is it about permit?

Is it because you don't get that many shots at them in a day? If you get 20 opportunities to cast to some in a day, that is a great day. Is it because you have to go to some pretty spectacular locations to find them? Although, someone once said that fish don't live in ugly places :) . Is it because they come up on you so fast and cause you to forget everything you know about fly casting? Is it because they just don't eat most of the time? There is even a saying that there is no such thing as a small permit. All permit are permit.

Rob's number 4 caught DIY

Maybe it is so memorable because so many things have to go right to catch one. You have to spot the fish far enough out you can prepare your cast. You have to make a great cast so the fish see the fly but don't get spooked. Even if you get the perfect cast, the fish then has to eat your fly. This is where most fail, somewhere up to this point. Even after you get an eat, as the fish is flying away from you and all hell is breaking loose, you have to clear your line and get on the reel without wrapping line around your reel, your leg, your arm. You have to keep the fish out of any coral or mangroves. You have to hope your knots are solid, and that you don't have any kinks or weak spots in your leader. You need to have your drag set right, and not have it malfunction, and not have your hook straighten. Or for some unknown reason have the fish come unbuttoned. I calculated the land rate one trip and came up with about 6% of shots resulted in a fish.

I guess for me, it is because so many things have to go right for you to land one that makes it special. I'm sure if you ask me how many permit I've caught at any time I'll be able to tell you. Go to Facebook and let us know why you think that is. Also tell us how many you've caught. I know you know.