Day 9 (15 December 2013)
We’re positive this morning. It was a funny night. The outhouse tents and shower tents at camp guantanamo blew over, so we finally had some human interaction to watch while we had our corn flakes, milk powder and water.
The tide is starting to fit perfectly now. It starts to drop at 11am, and there isn’t a breath of wind. I go straight for the rocks, but the cuttlefish pokers are there. The bay is green and almost too calm. Its reef time. Up to the ridge we go.
The reef is alive, surgeons, big Bream, stumpnose and other fish are all around us. Theo is nailing it this morning. All I get is a two bar bream on a crab before I set off. I can see Theo having a blast and snap a few shots with the Gopro before setting off.
I want to get to the wreck, there must be something around it. On arriving my curiosity gets the better of me, and I decide to wade out. With the tide dropping the timing is perfect. I snap a few shots before i start worrying about falling through the rusty floor.
Walking down the beach I spot my first perm, he’s shallow as hell, riding up hunting crab. He’s gone in a second. I continue to look, working slowly along the first set of waves. It gets rocky under foot when all hell breaks loose. There is a massive movement of water as I get hit hard in both shins, needless to say I screamed like a 5 year old Justin Bieber fan (of the female variety). As it disappeared to the horizon I made out what it was, a giant guitar shark. All 2m plus of him. Shew. Luckily the Gopro wasn’t on for that one. Pansy.
Then back past the reef I spot number 2, a small perm not as shallow, but he too disappears. How the hell do they do that? They’re luminous yellow for Petes sake (yes mine). Im feeling it today. These vanishing acts no longer get me down. I get good shots every now and then, and every miss and refusal is just upping the odds now. Theo has been schooled in the unreasonable optimism needed for saltwater success in tough conditions, we’re creepily enthusiastic and positive now, like we’ve just come out the Tony Robbins school for Permit fishing.
Then number 3 appears. The tide is perfect. There are three small sets of waves keeping him comfortable, the conditions ridiculously perfect. I start taking shots. Im not at as close quarters as I like, this is guy is feeding hard, I know I’ve got time as long as I don’t spook him. The shots are 40ft-ish. Im mid permit dance. Everything is working. Presentations are spot on, leading perfectly. The waves just enough to disguise the landing crab. We do the running-down-the-man for 100m west, maybe about 30 shots worth. Two fly changes. Then he goes further out. I don’t want him to disappear, I wade in. He’s working back the direction we came from now, maybe 20 more shots, follows, refusals, chases, varying heart rates from 120 to 200plus I’m guessing, and with that varying retrieves. Sweet mother of God, permit fishing Nirvana. He eventually slips off into a hole in the flat, never to be seen again. That was half an hour of the best fishing I could ever hope for, and to be honest I would have been satisfied to leave with just the memory of those shots (kind of). Knees weak and shaking like a new born foal I stumble down the beach.
I can’t remember If I saw another after that, I don’t remember much after that to be honest, other than I knew from that very second that I was going to catch.
**You’ll notice I refer to these permit as males. Now Seychelles perms are girls, Victorias Secret fish, absolutely perfect to the point that they’ll take your breath away when you first see one out the brine. Oman permit are not. These are hardcore, scarred-everywhere street fighters with burnt off and worn down fins. They hunt like Orcas if Orcas could go over mussel beds and razor sharp rocks. These are the gangsters of the Blochii gene, pikeys, straight out of the aquatic version of a Guy Ritchie film. I imagine these guys swim half way across the ocean to meet the Sey and St Brandon perms, where their scarred tough look appeals to the pretty girls and they make sweet Permit love, maybe somewhere over a sea mount (excuse that pun)
Day 10 (16 December 2013)
If you read Rays blog as religiously as I do, you’ll remember a day at Camel where he is skunked all morning. Then he realises the problem, he doesn’t have his lucky buff on! He changes it and gets a perm straight away. I was channeling my inner Ray Montoya today. I dug deep for my lucky buff, which seemed to escape the wash and still smelt like Grunter (the fish). To double up on luck I also found my lucky permit cap, which still smelt like Golden Trevally (if you aren’t superstitious, the chances are you aren’t a fisherman).
We get to the rocks. As I slowly wade out, I see fish one. At least another 20 shots. Ive been tying bigger crabs now, convinced that its a better option in the rougher than usual seas. Its a 2/0 K-crab. Old Faithful. While stalking I see all hell break loose on the left. There are three fish, tailing ridiculously on the rocks. White water spraying everywhere.
I hightail it over, well more like a Stork would hightail, and they’re feeding hard. This is different to what I’ve seen. These things are turned on. Again the photographer in me just wanted to get out the SLR, the fisherman denies. First I go even shallower and present, they’re riding a wave in now. Im bent over knees on rocks. Don’t spook.
They’re three abreast, heading straight for a sandy hole, already looking there. As the wave in front of them reaches I drop the fly on the spot. They’re on it now. Fins and flashes are absolutely everywhere. Im in autopilot now, my inner dialogue has disappeared, I know what needs to happen. I try to keep the crab stationary, but the behaviour Ive just seen doesn’t suggest it. A quarter strip in and I instantly go tight. I pull straight back with both hands (my default to avoid a trout strike), and that beautiful split second where the fish thinks it just got bit happens. Then it takes off. God. This is actually happening.
Ive gone to 28lb leader, ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as the rocks. In a blink I find myself chest deep in surf. Im pulling as hard as Ive ever pulled my 10wt. Leader hasn’t nicked a rock yet, I know I’m good. It doesn’t stop the fish from trying to rub his face on the ground like a typical perm. I pull even harder bending my rod behind and run at him, now stripping, drag locked. With each wave I can pull him out and over the crest, giving me that fish on the surface confidence. As I get to him he tries to dive right next to me. I do the S4s bend in half and grab the tail in a split second. He’s under arm now. Im running for the beach. Theo is running down the cliff. Im dumbfounded. This happened. I fought that fish like it was a GT. Purists would have been disgusted.
In a daze I make it to the wreck again, and sit on a rock to eat my can of tuna lunch. Then I waddle down, still smiling stupidly to wash it out before it goes in my pack. Im kneeling in the break washing out the tin. I look up and theres a permit 10 feet away, in a wave, looking at me, the mojo is here. Having caught one I could have a laugh at that.
Then at the same spot where number 3 gave me all that foreplay yesterday I saw two little guys, also doing the dance. I threw a 2/0 velcro crab, they’ll never eat that I thought. This was lighthearted, these two were entertainment, but as I watched the front fish tail on the crab and it vanished. Confused I lifted the rod, fish on! He was a feisty guy and the entire fight I was baffled with where I could have hooked it. This is a big crab fly.
I beach him and pick him up, no sign of the fly. The little bugger swallowed it. How he managed it Ill never know, but definitely through some sort permit jaw dislocation black magic. I wasn’t willing to kill one, and spent the next 5 minutes digging around in his mouth, which almost ended in tears when he flexed his pharyngeal plates (don’t ever, ever, stick your finger deep in a juvenile permits mouth). Eventually I managed to get my fly tying scissors stuck in the velcro, and using forceps with the scissors managed to get the crab out. I literally had to stretch the mouth with both hands, but he revived well and swam away. Two!