Cuba December 2021 Trip Report - Instalment Five

Cuba December 2021 Trip Report - Instalment Five

Wednesday, December 8th Paradise Permit

Terry and I were back together on the flats with Felipe for the day. Felipe really wanted to get Terry a permit because he knew in the 12 or so years of coming to Salinas, and 40 odd shots over those years, Terry had yet to connect with a Salinas permit.

We head west again. The water was very low and we had to push the boat through a channel that only two days before we had easily poled through. We hoped that all of the grunt work would be worth it. Since the water was low we didn’t see a lot of opportunity for permit in the morning so we concentrated on bonefish, and other species. I ended up going for a walk while Felipe took Terry around the lagoon and I meet them on the other side. I love wading for bonefish.

As I started into the lagoon I could see a couple of tails in the distance and a push from a group in the channel that I would end up walking through to meet the boat on the other side. I walked very slowly hunting for tails or pushes of water. The bonefish gods were kind. I got 5 of 5 of the regular 2-3 pound fish and saw many many more.I did hear a couple of disturbances out in the main bay where Terry and Felipe were but I couldn’t see them due to the mangrove Island. I knew it wasn’t a permit though as the “yeahs” weren’t loud enough.

I just let bonefish swim past me as I looked for larger fish. I found them as I started to come out of the channel where slightly more water led to big silver tails flashing in the sun. Such a fantastic site! Sneaking up on the first one, I put the cast about two feet in front and slightly to the side of the fish and it rushes over and does the “wiggle dance” on my fly with its tail flashing away. Strip set and the rooster tail off the fly line is immediate. Away it goes well into the backing so I know its is a larger fish than the others. A few more runs and I put my hands on a beauty 5 pound solid chunk of chrome. Such a great feeling.

Other fish are coming so I have to get organized to cast at them. It was easy fishing and the fish reacted with gusto and ate any well presented fly anywhere near them. I was only casting at what looked like larger fish and letting the “regular” ones swim past. Talk about being spoiled!

As Terry and Felipe came into sight from behind the mangrove island all I could do was smile and walk toward them leaving fish to eat in peace.

I found out what the commotion was. Terry landed a very decent shark! Don’t get many of those.

Now it was time to get serious about permit hunting. We had lunch and started to hunt. It took a bit of time but we finally see our first push of water and the black sickle tail. Felipe gets the boat into position and Terry gets ready to make the cast. Terry lets loose and the permit spooks a bit and we know the game is over with this permit. We watch him swim toward the other side of the area.

We loop around with the boat and see another push of water heading our way (same fish or a different one no idea). Then we see a very happy tail sticking out of the water. This fish is happy. Felipe polls the boat into casting position and Terry makes a beauty 45 foot cast directly at the permit.

The fly lands a couple feet in front of the fish and the permit reacts immediately - rushes and inhales the fly. Terry is hooked up. What a feeling to see the line peel away on a good friend's outfit. We quietly give a few yahoos as we know anything can happen during the fight. Terry had his 7wt in action with his 10x10 bonefish fly on because most of the permit we were seeing were smaller and easily handled on a 7wt. We knew this one was bigger maybe 9/10 pounds, but Terry knows how to fight fish so “no problems” we think.

 The fish makes its first run into the backing then dogs it with the sideways pulling power that all the jack family have. As it gets closer the decision was made to get out of the boat to finish the fight. Terry fighting the fish, me tasked with tailing it, and Felipe taking pictures. As it comes in we realize the fish is a “tad” larger than we thought maybe 12/13 pounds but it is behaving and Terry has a good chance at landing it.

It finally comes within about 20 feet and is still pulling sideways and has not flipped on its side yet, which I thought was a bit unusual since we were about 10 min into the fight. I’m thinking “ok Dave don’t screw up the tail grab”. I had not started to move toward the fish yet. The next thing we know the fish takes off again. This time it did NOT stop.

That run I figure was 150 yards. I was blown away. Now we had a big problem. The fish was VERY close to the mangrove island at the mouth of the channel. For a harrowing 2 minutes the fish swam 1 foot from the edge of the mangrove roots with Terry putting MAX pressure on the 7wt to keep the fish from going under a mangrove root. Terry did an outstanding job and the tippet held.

Terry worked the fish back within 20 feet about 15 minutes later. Finally, the fish started go on its side and roll its head out of the water. We saw with much better accuracy the actual size of this permit. It was MUCH bigger that we thought. I asked Terry to let me know when he wanted me to go for the grab. All the while Felipe taking pictures of the whole process. I was happy he trusted me to tail the fish. Terry gives me the go ahead and I slowly approach the fish. I was definitely saying to myself “don’t miss, don’t miss” the fish turned sideways, I already had my hand underwater so as not to make a possible spooking splash and I go for the tail. Tension is at maximum. As I close my hand around the thick wrist of the fish I knew we had it. I put my other hand under the fishes belly and lift it for Terry and Felipe to see and give a serious wahoo. A 20-pound absolute stunner of a permit.

 

Congratulations Terry and thank you Felipe for making an incredible angling memory for me. So proud to call these to impressive anglers my friends.

Several pictures later and a follow with the gopro the fish swims away to hopefully make more permit babies that have the “happy eating gene”.

Now we have a decision to make.

I am up on the Bow looking for another permit shot but my heart wasn’t in it as I wanted to see Terry go for the Grand Slam. It was only about 2:30 and he already had a bonefish so I said to the boys that I would rather see an attempt at the Grand Slam. Terry hadn’t even thought of it. Felipe agrees right away.

Off we go to chase a tarpon in the mangroves. Of course the first three stops we see nothing. Our last place to check before having to head home was our final hope. We drift down the channel with Terry making a few blind casts but nothing. Felipe fires up the motor to move and immediately the tarpon are rolling. Don’t know why that is but it regularly happens. Terry gets a few shots at the slam but it wasn’t to be. By this time the sun was at a lower angle and I ask what time it is 4pm (we are supposed to be back to the dock by now!!).

Calling it a day we head in and have a sizeable greeting party wondering where were are. Terry gets to tell his story.

All in all this was another angling day that will be forever burned into my memory.

 Link to Instalment Six

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