Marquesas  by  Mothership
Permit and Shark Flyfishing West of Key West
by Captain Don Perchalski

Flyfishing for permit off the Marquesas KeysAs we watched the school of permit zig zagging down the edge of the flat I couldn't help but think how much that push of water reminded me of a school of Jack Cravalle, one of the most awesome and by far the strongest fish in my home waters of Brevard County, Florida. That thought lasted about a half second as I snapped back to reality, with no time to spare I kicked the stern slightly to the left as my good friend Mike landed a 70 ft. quickcast about 4 ft. in front of the lead fish and let the fly sink quickly to the bottom. At this time the fish should have tailed on it , sucked it in and headed for the horizon but instead the school of permit turned towards the channel eased over the edge, and disappeared. As Mike let the Del Brown crab fly settle to the bottom I believe we were both thinking, nothing to it. This is easy just get ready and hang on, obviously the fish had other ideas, leaving us staring at each other  and all I could say was " I guess they showed us". The previous scenario,  was brought to reality only after many months of planning. The place was the Marquesas Keys west of Key West. Thanks to our Mothership "Latigo" and her well seasoned crew Captains Ken and Valerie Waine of Marathon . Mike Arbogast , Scott Glover and his Father Al and myself were able to fish uninterrupted from dawn till dark for four days.

After leaving Melbourne later than we would have liked, Mike and I arrived in Islamorada in time to unhitch the boat and hit Pappa Joes for supper. Waking early the next morning we couldn't leave town before wading our favorite bonefish flat and as usual the fish were there.  It took Mike no time at all to hook up with a fat eight pound fish. After some photos, a quick release and breakfast at Lorelei's we were on the road again . .

Approximately an hour and a half later we were pulling up in front of the Key West Hilton to unload what appeared to be enough tackle to last two people several weeks. As soon as the unloading was taken care of we trailered the boat back to Garrison Bight where we would launch the boat and park the truck and trailer for the duration of the trip.  After running the boat back to the Hilton we met up with Scott and Al . Val and Ken had not arrived yet , they had their hands full bringing "Latigo" down the back side through an intense tropical wave which had the Keys completely socked in.

The next day we had an early wake up call .The stars were out , the breeze was fresh and the rain was gone . After our gear was safely aboard the yacht, we followed " Latigo " north a short distance to where we could pull out of the traffic lane and rig the two skiffs for towing . Ken had pre-rigged the bridles which made setting up a piece of cake . Once hitched up Val steered the yacht toward Northwest Channel as Ken set the skiffs astern at a proper distance for the cruise to the Marquesas . The teamwork this husband and wife displayed during our entire voyage, weather it was monitoring a thunder storm on radar , locating the next waypoint or simply preparing the evening meal could not help but be noticed , very professional , first class all the way. It was truly a pleasure and an education to have spent these days with them on Latigo.

Less than three hours had passed and we were anchored on the northwest side of the atoll . All things taken care of we were ready to fish. I don't believe I've ever fished for anything quite so challenging as the permit , they simply will not give you a second chance . On the flats in the Marquesas you immediately notice an abundance of life . Sharks , many common to one hundred pounds , huge stingrays , most of them three feet across the wings and large starfish brilliantly colored can be seen on the channel bottoms . But our main attraction to this out of the way island group was the permit . After our second day we had counted well over two hundred permit , we decided to quit counting because it was taking up to much of our time.

As I poled Mike toward one of my favorite spots where several channels converge, the tide was just starting in.  I knew that it wouldn't be long before we'd see permit moving out of the channels and onto the flats as the water deepened. I held the boat in place with the pole and we watched . It didn't take much time for the first fish to show up.  A school of small fish, five to seven pounds cruising the edge of the channel and coming at us.  Mike made an eighty foot cast dropping the fly right in front of the lead fish but for some reason that only a permit would understand the school eased back into the channel and disappeared.  More . . .
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You can contact Latigo & Capt. Don Perchalski at: 
1021 11th Street, Ocean
Marathon Marina, Slip #73
Marathon, FL 33050
E-mail: latigo@gate.net
305-289-1066
800-897-4886
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