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Obsessed: Permit in the Keys

Posted on April 06 2017

The pursuit and protection of our most adored and frustrating fish.

Tommy Robinson remembered his moment of enlightenment. It took place in the '70s, back when nobody believed you could catch permit on a fly. Robinson grew up in Key West, and began guiding before he'd even graduated high school. But on this day he was an angler, fishing from the back of the boat while his friend poled from the bow. "We were poling barges around back then," Robinson said. He held an 8-weight Fenwick in his hand, rigged with a Platinum Blondie striper fly—a chunky bucktail streamer of the Homer Rhode-Joe Brooks lineage. As they moved along the perimeter of Barracouta Key, in The Lakes area just west of Key West, he spotted a permit. "We'd caught permit on live crabs, but not flies," Robinson said. "I cast at it, started stripping, and not only did that fish chase the fly to the boat, but I could see it had its mouth opened by the end. I thought to myself, these sons of bitches eat flies."

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