Day 1 of the tournament was tough day for all. Our guess? The high winds and low pressure had pushed the permit off the flats. While several were spotted, a few lost, no team came home to the Palometa club in celebration. Though, as we pulled up on the beach Monday afternoon, there on the flag pole was a flag flying, indicating to all that a permit had been landed. Who could it be? As we knew from the guides’ constant radio communication, that no team had made the catch. Then again, who could have accomplished this feat in such conditions?
There standing on the beach to greet us was our wonderful photographer Matt Jones, camera in hand, with a HUGE grin on his face. His expression said it all. But how, when, where? Well, Matt that morning had gone out with guides Fili and Christian in a chase boat to follow and document all the tourney anglers and their adventures. While on the flats, passing the time, as nothing was happening on any of the tourney boats, multiple permit on rays came cruising by Matt’s boat. Being an avid angler, but rarely afforded the opportunity to fish while shooting, grab a rod instantly and made the cast. Bam! Fish on! Matt’s first hooked permit on the fly. And not just any fish, a nice one. Sadly, though, within seconds the huge fish broke the line, crab in mouth. Minutes later, Fili and Christian spotted another tailing permit on top of a sting ray. Matt made the 60ft cast and this fish, like the last, ate instantly. Fish on again! This time, he was determined to land his Palometa. And after a few good runs, Fili had it, tail in hand, Matt’s first permit on fly and the best one of the trip thus far. It was a gorgeous 28″x 24″ black tipped beauty. That night around the bar and ring toss, glasses and beers where lifted to Matt’s great accomplishment – first permit landed.
Day 2 started with surprise and excitement. All weekend we had been watching the weather forecast, that had predicted overcast skies with strong winds which them make a complete 180 to blow out of the north at 25-30k. We had awaken that morning with dread and were happily surprised to walk out onto the front porch to sunny skies and light winds. Those light south winds by mid morning died and a salty humid heat fell upon us. With sweat pouring out of every pore, we poled the dead calm glasslike ocean in search for tails. Around 2:45pm, the horizon started to turn yellowy purple color and the dark skies began to descend upon us. In less than 5 minutes, the mirror-like seas began to white cap and roar as the northerly hit us. With winds raging, we booked it to Tres Marias to convene and take cover. While waiting out with storms with beers in hand, teams reported in highly contrasting overviews of their day. While, Mark and Mike, Jeff and Brad were covered up in fish all day, breaking off several big fish and Brad landing one, 2-3 boats saw 1 to none all day and several boats reported in a few shots and sightings.
Brad’s permit, a 12″x12″, came at the end of the day minutes before the storms rolled in. It was caught out of one of the many schools that they had cast to all day. The other landed permit of the day, was also caught no more than 10 minutes before getting blown off the flats. Steve and I, being guided by Gerardo and Julio and accompanied by Matt Jones, had got off 2 great shots in the first hour. Unfortunately, neither of those huge tailers were hungry for what we were offering, so came away loose lined. For the next 4 sweaty hours, we did lay eyes on a fish. I think they were hunkering down in anticipation for the forecasted storm. Alas with dark skies racing towards us, Gerardo, aka Jerry, spotted a school of flashing permit crossing the white sand flat. My partner, big Steve on the bow, quickly and with cat-like grace, jumped in the water with Julio in hot pursuit. One cast, strip, strip, and the permit hit, though sadly never going tight. The school suddenly redirected themselves in the boat’s direction and Jerry and I jump in the water. stripping out line as fast I as could, I make a 40ft cast in front of the school, slow strip, slow strip, then Jerry says “strip it faster”, the moment I increased my speed, bam, fish was on. Not a giant one, but my first Mexican permit, nonetheless. Matt, excited to use his new underwater housing, was jumping around like a Mexican jumping bean getting set up for the permit’s photo shoot. Of course, the moment the fish was in hand and its measurements documented on the score card, the lights went out. Those storms clouds had reached us to quickly. Though, ever the pro and artist, Matt was able to get some great permit shots amidst the tough conditions.
After waiting out the worst of the squall, the boats all set out across the bay together to make the long trek home. Thankfully, Dick and Kaye were awaiting our arrival with rum and delicious margaritas to warm us up from the wet and bumpy ride. Fenia and the girls served up scrumptious tostadas and for any that were still chilled, their ever infamous habenero sauce was there to do its trick.