The Curious Case of the Missing Permit

There is a crazy amount of habitat in the Bahamas.  As a high schooler might say… “there is, like, a lot.”

There are plenty of bonefish in the Bahamas.  There are Jacks a plenty.  Cudas are all over the place along with sharks.  There are fewer tarpon, but they migrate, so that is mostly understandable.


Where are the frigging permit though?

From the 2011 Redbone Tournaments at Deep Water Cay:



Every once in a while there is a permit caught in the Bahamas.  There are clearly some permit there, but they are few and very, very far between.

I asked Dr. Adams about that and he said the research hasn’t been conducted.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on why permit appear to be scarce in the Bahamas.

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  1. Bjorn — excellent question. My two cents from years in the Keys and Andros. Permit are really deepwater fish that love wrecks, reefs, and channels that will work onto flats proximate to deep water. This kind of habitat is prevalent in the Keys but apparently not so in the Bahamas. There the flats are dominantly along shallow shorelines and back in skinny bays, bights, and creeks — the antithesis of permit habitat. Plus, the good Keys permit flats are usually hard crunchy bottoms that the crabs seem to like — while the Bahamas are mostly softer marl bottoms. Question though — having never fished Belize or Mexico — does this “analysis” hold up there? Bill

  2. tailingpermit

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say good Keys permit flats are hard crunchy bottoms, most flats West of Key West are mud.

    But there’s one major thing missing when looking at the differences between the Keys and the Cays, turtle grass.

    From having this same conversation with a guide that fishes both areas, there are a few grass spots in some areas of the Cays, and they’re loaded with big permit.

  3. bonefishbjorn

    That’s why I love asking questions on the blog… people have really good insights.

  4. bonefishbjorn

    There certainly are large areas with that hard/crunchy bottom in the Bahamas and then lots of hard white sand and marl bottoms as well. So much habitat. Tailingpermit has a good point about the turtle grass though… Belize is pretty rich in that kind of habitat.

    It’s an interesting question for sure.

  5. There are no permit in the Bahamas. Forget it. Never saw any. Ever. Anywhere. Stay in the Keys.

  6. Kelly J. Bandlow

    Tailingpermit is spot on with his reply…turtle grass with easy deep water access. Lots of monsters in the Bahamas especially on the outer islands, but that’s between you & me. The way huge permit use the deep “super highways” (shipping & boating channels) of Biscayne Bay to get up tight and in reeeealllly shallow water is incredible to see. Now Bjorn, I know you’ve been going a little gaga over tarpon lately…but if you get into a decent sized permit on your trip to Ambergris you just may become a lost cause. Isn’t it all fantastic?

  7. Bjorn,I’ve often wondered about the missing permit in the bahamas myself. from what I’ve read it seems like northern islands(bimini,BGI and abaco) have the most consistent permit sightings based off reports. The remote north coast of GBI seems like some of the most unexplored back country out of the bahamas, could hold some hidden permit water

  8. After some research on the north coast of BGI I gotta tell ya, I’m impressed! I’ve seen lots of pics of below average size permit catches from the north coast of GBI. That’s a good sign. I think why many guys don’t get into permit in Bahamas isbecause they are fishing way up on the inside ankle deep sand flats. productive permit flats are going to be knee-thigh deep flats. also I’ve heard of many people having multiple shots at permit in the Bahamas without targeting them. I’ve fished Ascension bay, spent the better part of a day hunting permit with a guide without a single signing let alone a shot. One H2o customer reported 4 shots at large permit before hooking into his first ever. Not too SHAB! also worth noting is permit are seasonal in bahamas.

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