There are a number of issues currently on the table, or in the works, that propose regulating (or even closing) a variety of different fisheries. One such topic involves permit (Trachinotus falcatus) and what steps need to be taken to preserve the future permit populations throughout Florida.
Last week I attended a town hall meeting in Key Colony Beach where a number of Florida Keys captains met to voice their opinions on the issue. The forum was one of five workshops put on by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) aimed to collect information on the permit fishery, and to gather insight from industry professionals.
Of the possible regulation changes that were mentioned by the FWC, the issue that was most discussed dealt with making permit a catch-and-release only species.
Many captains present at the workshop, including representatives from the Upper and Lower Keys guide associations, voiced that they were in favor of making permit a catch-and-release only species, while allowing a person to keep one potential world-record fish (similar to the tarpon tag program).
While my opinion varies slightly—I believe in having the right to keep one permit per vessel (although I do release 99-percent of the ones I catch)—I would not be surprised if in the very near future permit become a catch-and-release only game fish.
Regardless of what the FWC decides, I strongly suggest that all fishermen and women in the Florida Keys attend future meetings like this one to express your opinions on such issues, and to better allow the powers that be to make informed decisions in regards to regulations and closures.
These are our waters, and our voices we need to be heard!
Elsewhere in the Florida Keys, the slow month of September gives everyone some well-needed down time to fix up the boats and get everything ready for when the season picks back up.
When we have gotten on the water, we’ve been rewarded with excellent both out back and in the Atlantic.
In the Gulf, large schools of permit have gathered on the wrecks fifteen-plus miles off Marathon. For targeting these fish I like to use a jig head with a live blue crab, along with 20 to 25-pound leader, and even lighter tackle when the fish are away from structure.
In the backcountry, Captain Chris Morrison (www.captchris.com) reports the snook fishing has been superb in the Everglades National Park and up around Cape Sable. On Monday, Chris guided a client to nine snook in the 22-28-inch range, with a few tarpon and goliath grouper thrown into the mix as well. Chris also reports seeing large school of tailing permit on a few of the banks he stopped to pole at on the way back in.
Offshore, the tuna bite remains red hot on the Marathon humps and those who have ventured out have been rewarded with quality catches of blackfins. Just be prepared for sharks to steal a few of your larger fish on the way in.
On the edge of the reef the sailfish are slowly starting to arrive, with several fish being caught in the past week on trolled dead ballyhoo, and slow-trolled live ballyhoo and pilchards. Look for the sailfish action to heat up as soon as the weather cools; and with all the bait that is still around, I expect this to be an excellent Florida Keys sailfish season.
On reef, look for the yellowtail snapper fishing to pick back up as soon as the strong, full moon current subsides. While on the patches, the cero mackerel have been extremely thick, with a live bait or jig with #2 or #3 wire providing plenty of rod bending action.
Your Best Bet for the Weeks Ahead: Go Fishing!
Now is the time to head out, catch some fish, and enjoy the ocean all to yourself! Take advantage of the lack of fishing pressure and lack of boats on the water, and support your local captains by booking a fishing trip today.
CHRIS PERMIT: Captain Chris Morrison guided his client to this nice permit caught and released in Marathon.
KCB COBIA: Captain Tad with a 34-pound cobia caught right off his dock on a canal in Key Colony Beach!