Fishing for Trachinotus Africanus Permit with Clare Carter
What a week we have had! The conditions here in southern Oman have been spectacular, with clearing waters and temperatures rising from last week. We are lucky to have two species of Permit here in Oman, the Trachinotus Blochii, and the Trachinotus Africanus Permit.
The former also known as the Indo-pacific permit (or Omani Gold as we like to call them!) and a species we readily target from the shore. The latter has been somewhat of a nemesis for us on the fly, we’ve hooked a fair few between us, as have some of our clients, with our last client Garreth landing one on a spinning gear. All of our research into these fish has come back blank with no record of one being landed on the fly… So we set out to legitimately catch one on fly fishing gear!
The week started with two traveling fishermen, Johan and his friend Bo who were passing through Salalah. They headed out for a half day on the boat with us to target the Trachinotus Africanus Permit. The conditions were good and we must have seen over 200 of these monsters feeding heavily along the coastline. Cast after cast came back blank and frustrations grew as we switched flies and tried new approaches to no avail.
The next day Brandon and I headed out early on a mission. After a few attempts, casting at some of the largest schools of permit I have ever seen, my knees were like jelly and I was shaking like a leaf from the adrenaline, so I handed over to Brandon. Approaching one of our favourite spots, a sea of silver flashes and tails become apparent, some fish were almost a meter in length stretched in front of us. Positioning the boat, Brandon laid out a full fly line and held his breath… nothing. As we drifted he cast out, each time landing the fly right in the sea of silver… but nothing. A change of fly and we set up the drift again. A long line landing the fly perfectly in between the large feeding school. Strip, strip, bang… the line went tight!
“Have you got the bottom” was the only thing I could think of to say.
“FISH ON” was the reply.
No way, my skeptical side and the fact that I was rapidly losing faith in these fish had me thinking it must be foul hooked… but I was in for a surprise.
These fish fight dirty with bursts of speed that take you out to the backing over and over again. As Brandon fought to tame the beast I could see the line jumping as he violently shook his head trying to dislodge the fly. Finally he got this silver devil next to the boat but the battle was not over. The last thing this fish was going to do was make netting him easy! Somehow, in a blur, we had him, netted, tagged and ready for a quick picture… it was so surreal to finally see this fish up close with a fly lodged firmly in his beautiful bulbous pink lips. It wasn’t a big one but it was an Africanus, indeed the Trachinotus Africanus Permit we’d been hoping for!
My turn… let’s see if this was a fluke or had we actually cracked the code? We drew closer and I could see the school of frantically feeding fish, their tails waving erratically. My first cast was a little wobbly, I was still unsure if I had faith in this working. The second cast landed in a sea of silver flashing bodies. Strip, strip, SET! The line went tight and my eyes grew like saucers. I saw the fish turn and eat my fly, then shake his head violently as it pierced his chubby lips but still I didn’t believe my eyes. Off it shot in anger straight out to my backing… bloody hell! The rest was a blur of long burst of speed and me gingerly trying to gain control, I was terrified I would lose him.Violent head shakes followed by full body spins as he tried every dirty trick in the book to get away. Each time he got near the boat another burst of speed and he was away
Violent head shakes followed by full body spins as he tried every dirty trick in the book to get away. Each time he got near the boat another burst of speed and he was away again. 10 minutes later, or what seemed like a lifetime of holding my breath and he was laying in my arms. I couldn’t believe it… we had cracked the code, a new species of permit targetable on fly, and in our back yard too!
The fish measured 68cm from nose to fork and had the most amazing set of sumptuous pink lips I have ever seen… oh and it was much bigger than Brandon’s, hehe!
Not to be outshone Brandon was up again, landing one more fish before we decided to begrudgingly call it a day and leave these monsters in peace.
Although we did go back the next morning just to make sure it hadn’t all been a dream. To our surprise it wasn’t, we landed and tagged another two pink lipped mega perms!
An awesome week on the water and one I will never forget. I do hope all the fly fishermen who have permit fever will forgive us for adding a new species to their bucket list…