A lockdown discussion with the St Brandon’s Permit man – Milan Germish.

Favourite fish to target on fly? Fresh or salt

That’s a tough one. I love the visual aspect of targeting big trout on dry flies, but my favourite fish to target would have to be Indo-Pacific Permit….although I wouldn’t be able to do it for too many days in a row. It would drive me crazy!

What do you think it is that makes St Brandon’s Permit so special to people?

I think it’s probably the technical aspect of St Brandon’s Permit fishing that makes them so special. Your cast and presentation has to be spot on, well for Blochii at least (I haven’t fished for the other species). They can be dicks and even if you do everything right the fish can still just keep tailing and not care about your fly. It’s a huge challenge to fish for them and I think that’s a big factor.

Ah, something that’s come to mind.  Does the St Brandon’s permit spook properly?  Or do they do the typical permit shy away and just carry on with their business, with no hope of an eat. I found the Seychelles ones just do the shy away trick, but the Omani ones spook properly and return at another point.

They do both, although I find the fish around higher lying areas tend to come back after they’ve spooked. If you’re patient and stealthy you can have legit shots at them again, but the fish on the flats tend to spook properly (more often than not). Every now and again you get those fish that will hang around and continue feeding on everything except for the flies you`re fling at them.  I think this is because there are limited windows in the tide where they can only access food rich areas, so they’ll be more inclined to come back because they know there’s food there. Whereas the submerged flats fish can just continue swimming along looking for food without worrying about water depth too much.

Image courtesy of Flycastaway
st brandon's permit
Image courtesy of Flycastaway

Haha.  Typical permit.  Interestingly I found the Yemeni ones just haul ass everywhere.  Like they had a naughty ancestor who slept with a wave pompano.  Weird.  I assume you can remember your first (we all do, moment for moment).  Was it first some heartbreak or were you lucky early on?

Yeah we get fish like that and to be honest it’s part of why I dig them so much! You can get super tricky fish that haul ass all over the place and others that slowly “snake” around. I hate using this cliché but sometimes they do have different personalities.

 (first fish?)

I can remember it well. We’re lucky on St. Brandon because as guides we get opportunities to fish on our days off. It was in my first season back in March-June of 2016. We had fished for around 21 days already due to Cyclone Fantalla hanging around (the one that eventually leveled Farquhar). No boats were allowed to leave Mauritius for something like 26 days which also meant we no guests, so myself and the other boys fished a lot. I had a few shots at the St Brandon’s Permit during that time but it being my first season I was still walking around wide eyed and casting at anything which swam by.

I did manage to land my first one though during that time. It’s was on a crab I had tied myself. I was actually using a 12wt TNT rod with a 9wt line. I had broken my 9wt Loomis a few days before so I had to fish with the 12wt for the rest of the season. The weather wasn’t great and the wind was howling! The cast was into the wind and trying to get the fly to the fish with the set up I had wasn’t easy but somehow the fly plopped in front of the tailing fish and I went tight.

Sorry, that was very long.

No worries, long is good. Can you elaborate on the eat and fight if you can? 

The fish was dropping off the flat on its way to a lagoon. Craig spotted it and made a cast. He got ‘boned’ but somehow during all the commotion the Permit kept on feeding. So I stepped up and made the shot. As the fly landed I stripped to take up the slack in my line (direct contact with your fly is crucial when St Brandon’s Permit fishing). I stripped again and the fish followed, a couple more strips and it almost looked like the fish was getting pissed off while it was trying to pin the fly to the bottom. One more strip and the fished wiggled super hard and tailed on my fly, this all happened about 15 feet away from me and as I went right I remember Craig shouting “Permit!” very loud next to me.

Phwoar.  Thats epic.

Ja it was wild! That fish really wanted the fly. I remember Brendan telling me it looked like I was going to drop a knee on that fish when it ate.

Image courtesy of Flycastaway

Are the St B fish after a particular prey item or are they happy to just prospect?  Have you ever witnessed a hatch that they got into?  Like the urchin hatches of the carribean, turbid snails, etc?

I think they prospect a lot but also go to certain areas to feed on particular things. There’s a spot on St Brandon where I’m almost 100% sure they’re there specifically to feed on tiny black snails, although they’ll eat anything else that comes along I’m sure. There are large beds of Tec-tec clams (local name – not sure about the normal/scientific name) where you’ll see them tailing quite hard in order to dig up those clams. Craig told me he’s seen a swimming crab hatch where the crabs were literally crawling up his legs. So I feel some fish have a routine and will frequent certain areas to target a specific food source while still being opportunistic and then there are other fish that are actively looking for a specific prey and that’s it.

It sounds like an awesome ecosystem. Where else would you like to target Indo-Pacifics?

Ya its very diverse. You can target them in a bunch of different scenarios, which is very interesting but can also be super frustrating (because they’re St Brandon’s Permit and they don’t know what they want most of the time). Personally I’d love to fish for them in Oman, it seems very technical and something I’d like to try figure out for myself, but Western Australia also looks like a really cool spot. The only downside are the Salties.

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Haha ya that’s my main worry of aus too. And the distance. But I’d love to catch an Trach Anak there. Or any of them on floating crabs. Have you ever fished for Atlantics? (flacatus). If not, anywhere you’d want to fish for them?

Ja…after watching Heads or Tails I’m very keen to catch them on a “dry fly”

I haven’t fished for the Atlantic’s yet, no. But if I’d have to choose it would be one of 3 spots; Belize because I’ve heard they have good numbers of fish, Bahamas because as far as I know they don’t have many but the ones they do have are big, and lastly would be the Keys, purely because from what I’ve heard they can be the toughest Atlantic’s to catch with all that pressure and boat traffic around. I would however want to preferably target them on foot, I love wade fishing.

Absolutely. Me too. Ok some specifics, strip or leave?  Or depends on the situation?

It depends on the situation to me, current and what the fish is doing are the 2 most important factors to me.

Ah shit, I forgot about current. How do you counteract current usually?

So the thing with current for me is you can and should use it to your advantage. I’ve had situations where I’ve used the current to swing a fly in front and past a fish where it has eaten the fly mid column. But that’s for a moving fish. For fish that are tailing in current I find the most important thing is the sink rate of your fly. Weather its sparsely tight or trimmed, or whether you’ve tied it on a heavier hook or with more weight. The fly needs to get down to the fish.

Which will bring my next question – favourite fly line.

Favourite fly line is obviously a personal preference and should be based on your casting style and your rod’s action. I’ve been lucky enough to fish a lot on St. Brandon and I’ve fished a bunch of different lines. The two that stick out are (my No 1 choice) the Cortland All Purpose Taper Tropic Plus Series WF9F. The other is the Airflo Tropical Clear Tip WF9F (tip floats), I really like this line for ultra spooky Permit in very clam/flat conditions.

The only thing to keep in mind is it is harder to know where where your fly is (which is the most important thing when it comes to Permit fishing). I would suggest only experienced Permit fishermen use the clear tip.  I’m personally not a fan of heavily textured fly lines. I’ve seen Permit and even Bones spook when they hear/feel the vibrations of the line as it moves through the tip of the rod when stripped.

Ya, I have a similar theory. Ok, lame question. What’s the most perms ever landed in a day by a single angler in St B?

I think it’s 3 but I’ll have to double check with the Yeti. As far as I know, the most landed on a boat between 2 anglers was 5 in a day.

st brandon's permit
Image courtesy of Flycastaway

Ballpark is fine. What was the most impressive size perm you’ve ever seen on St B? (other than Dres hair)

Hahaha. Craig caught the biggest one I’ve seen. It was 78cm from nose to fork. We didn’t have a net or our Boga Grips with us so we couldn’t weigh it. It was massive, you could fit a cricket ball in its mouth. I have photos if you want to see it.

Awesome. Ya I’d love to see that. I remember that story I think. You guys used to always see that fish?

There’s a few fish that we see that are resident and that was one that we and especially Craig had seen for a while.

Remember Craigo is also I big guy.

F***. Ya that’s a beast. The yeti isn’t a small animal

Beautiful fish too.

That fish was smelly, I remember that. Hahaha.

st brandon's permit
Image courtesy of Flycastaway

What’s the most permit you’ve seen in a day? If you had to guess

We do catch reports everyday out on St. Brandon so we have pretty good idea. We sit together (the guides) and capture how many Bones, Permit, Bluefin, Goldens and GTs we saw, hooked and landed, where we saw them and at what time during the tide. The most I saw in a day if you include some of the schools I’ve seen in deeper water would probably be 200-250 fish.

That’s incredible

Ya dude, there are certain tides where you could realistically be fishing to tailing Permit from 08:00am until 16:00pm. Its nuts!

That’s a dream come true for me. OK last question. If you wanted to come to St B as a client, and only fish for permit, would it be allowed? Is there enough space or is rotation strict?

We do rotate areas but provided you and your fishing partner were willing to hunt them all week there is enough space. The main thing would be making sure your fishing partner is comfortable with that, so best to come as a two ball knowing before the trip you are both on the same page or book as a single angler. The other thing to keep in mind is there are more preferable tides during a day and week, but as long as you understand that then absolutely…why not. That said, we have some of the largest Bonefish and Bluefin Trevally on earth, massive GTs and good numbers of Golden Trevally on the atoll. With that in mind, for me it would almost be criminal to say no to all of that and only target Permit…plus you’d probably go mad only fishing for Permit every day for a week.

st brandon's permit
Image courtesy of Flycastaway

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