January 14, 2020
Photo: Capt. Don Gable / Capt. Nick LaBadie
Catching a permit on fly is arguably the most challenging and most rewarding endeavor in fly fishing. Though these fish are found throughout the Caribbean, the Florida Keys is the epicenter for catching trophy permit. With 33 of the 36 fly-caught world records occurring in Florida Keys waters, the Florida Keys permit fishery is truly special and iconic. In partnership with Costa Del Mar and the Lower Keys Guides Association, Project Permit seeks to protect and, whenever possible, improve the Keys permit fishery.
An ongoing program of Project Permit is our Florida-wide mark recapture study. We rely on anglers to tag, release, and recapture these special fish. From the efforts of conservation-minded anglers, we are learning about permit growth rates and also their movements and migrations. This information is critical to set sustainable harvest regulations, and to ensure that management zones, like the Special Permit Zone are effectively protecting the Keys’ fish.
Recently, Key West Captain Nick LaBadie of Tailing Water Expeditions and angler Josh Basgall recaptured a tagged permit estimated at 14 pounds. The fish was tagged by Captain Don Gable and angler Mike Ward four years earlier in 2015. And, lucky for us, Capt. Gable and Capt. LaBadie both took photos of the fish. The permit was recaptured only five miles away from where it was tagged, and it grew quite a bit over the four years. Fast-growing fish generally make for a more productive and sustainable fishery. BTT thanks all the captains that have donated their time to tag fish and report recaptures when they get them.
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