Scorpion Dreams

TroutHunter guide, Tim Fischer, is spending the winter as assistant manager at famed Casa Blanca Lodge on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. He sent us this account of his first permit on the fly…

I found myself afloat on Espiritu Santo bay with guide Rene and a British chap named Michael, who super slammed the day
prior and generously invited me to share a day of fishing. It was a beautiful blue sky afternoon
with Rene poling the skiff and Michael on the deck with bonefish rod in hand. On a  massive
flat with knee-deep, clear blue water and a white sand bottom, I remarked to the fellas, “this looks like the place I’ve always envisioned catching my first permit.”

Five minutes later I felt the boat quiver ever so slightly as Rene crouched down on the platform
and whispered “palometa.” Michael turned from the bow and said, “Tim, that’s your fish, grab the
permit rod.” He got down from the deck and we fumbled with tangled rods for what seemed like
forever. Finally I was on the bow holding Michael’s Thomas and Thomas
10 weight fly rod with a very nice Tibor fly reel. It had a perfect crab fly tied to what I had to trust was an all around stout rig. I kept my eyes on the rapidly approaching fish while pulling out line, then fumbled out the best 55 foot cast I could manage. The
fly landed five feet in front of the tailing permit. One strip and the solo fish turned and swam away the way it came.

Not surprised by the outcome, I quickly gave the deck back to Michael without a huff. He
continued his turn standing ready to cast to bonefish. As I sat there contemplating what went
wrong, I kept scanning the huge expanse of the flat for signs of “palometa.”

Not five minutes
later about 200 yards in the distance I spotted a dozen black tails emerging from the waters
glare, wallowing lazily. They were moving
parallel to the boat and straight into the wind the opposite
direction we were floating. I brought this to Rene’s attention and he immediately planted the motor
firmly in the sand and jumped out of the boat. Like a working dog ready for the hunt, I grabbed
the permit rod and followed. We waded in single file attempting to get ahead the school now
swimming away from us. The permit were tailing ahead and just out of reach. I made a few
desperate casts into the wind as we chased, barely reaching their tail side and the school was
gone.

We turned and started the couple hundred yard wade back to the boat where Michael had been
taking pictures of the pursuit. As I was thinking to myself that permit never seem to do what
you’d like I spotted another school of equally nice black tails and on a similar course as the last.
We moved to try and intersect them head on. Just as we got within a full fly line cast away, they slowly veered off and continued to stay just out of reach. I pulled out more fly line thinking it was time to make a hero cast when to our surprise
another school of permit appeared calmly tailing in our direction between us and
the school that was moving off.

I waited an agonizing minute as the school lazily moved closer, tails flying high above the waters
glare. Rene said, “okay cast now.” I gave it all I had in a decent cross wind and landed the fly
about 10 feet in front of the fish. “Good. Wait.” More agonizing seconds
passed and Rene said “okay estrip now.” I did as I was told and a healthy permit peeled
away from the pack and started to charge my fly. About halfway through the retrieve with permit
pushing water in pursuit Rene said “Tim stop.” I did and so did the fish. It’s head went down, tail
went up and Rene exclaimed “Tim estrip, estrip!!!!” This time feeling the fish, I gave
another good strip to sent the hook home. The permit went nuts. With the help of
the fish I quickly guided the line that was floating around my legs out of the rod and the magical
song of a singing fly reel played and played. The fish was about a hundred and fifty yards
away in a few seconds.

And so it went. I caught my first permit yesterday as well as a tarpon and a bonefish to complete a grand slam, the best angling accomplishment of my life so far. I had a chance at super slam but I trout set
like an amateur (your supposed to strip set) on a big snook earlier in the day. Regardless, I
couldn’t be happier.

That night after dinner I was presented with a scorpion resting on top of a shot of
tequila, a ritual drink at the lodge for those that catch their first “palometa”. I drank it in celebration of an epic day, an experience I am truly grateful to have had and will never forget.


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