Miniatures for Miniatures
Permit... this member of the jack family is well known for frustrating fly anglers and testing the limits of light tackle spinning rods on a daily basis through out the Lower Keys. They are commonly found in the 10-20 pound range with some 30+ pound monsters found at times. When sightfished in the shallows, casting must be quick and accurate with little room for error. To an adult angler, this is an exciting challenge... to a junior angler... well, it is a recipe for boredom and frustration. But it doesn’t have to be so.
On a trip last month, I had a father with his twin son and daughter join me for a half day of guaranteed action. In the backcountry this means sharks and snapper. I prepped the boat with a couple of bonitas and a few dozen shrimp before heading to a channel back in the mangrove islands. This particular area had beautiful flats on both sides which I knew had a healthy population of sharks as well as mangroves with deep overhanging roots that are great habitat for mangrove snapper.
We staked up the skiff in the shade of the mangroves with the deep channel on one side and a shallow flat on the other.
The sharks were very cooperative with several nurse and lemon sharks coming up and happily eating baits. This had already made the day for the kids as they were not only catching jacks but it was also the biggest fish of their lives!
The tide began to slow and we still had an hour left of the trip. The sharks disappeared as they tend to do when the water flow stops. The snapper take this opportunity to swim away from the protection of the mangrove roots and look for food sources in the channel that usually have too much current for them.
We began to hook them up with the live shrimp we had brought and the kids were having a blast. The water was crystal clear and I was able to look down at the bottom and see a thick tree branch that had snapper hanging all around it. I was surprised to see that in with the snapper were four unexpected permit! Not the 10-20 pounders that I mentioned in the beginning... these were baby permit that measured maybe 12-14 inches long. It took multiple shrimp sacrifices to the snapper before one of the permit found the courage to grab the bait before the snapper could. Once hooked, this little fish took off in a run that I certainly did not expect! After a couple of these runs back and forth across the channel, the fish was brought to the boat and quickly released after a picture. Both kids ended up with a miniature permit which were really perfectly sized for these miniature anglers- Miniatures for Miniatures.
September is here and we have reached our slow season.... tourists I mean, certainly not the fishing!
As for backcountry, this month will hold options of juvenile tarpon back in the mangroves as well as great shots at hooking up permit and bonefish on the flats. The shark fishing action will continue to be good as well as schools of ladyfish in many of the basins for those just looking to hook a lot of fish.
Fishing early or late are great ways to beat the heat (The fish don’t like it either!) as we near the end of summer. To book a flats and backcountry trip call 305-432-0046 or go to FishMonsterCharters.com
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