PERMIT / Trachinotus falcatus (Linnaeus, 1758); CARAN FAMILY ; also called round pompano, great pompano, Indian River permit

Occurs in the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts, USA to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies. The greatest concentrations are off south Florida and it is them that the biggest specimens are taken. permit are essentially shallow water, schooling fish occurring over sandy flats and reefs in depths of from 1 to 17 fathoms. They normally travel in schools of ten or more fish, though occasionally they may be seen in great numbers. They tend to become more solitary with age.

The permit is distinguished from the common pompano (Trachinotus camlinus) by having fewer soft rays in the dorsal and anal fins. The second dorsal fm has 1 spine and 17 21 soft rays (22

27 in the pompano). The body is laterally compressed and the second and third ribs are prominent often as big around as one's thumb in fish weighing over 10 16 (4 5 kg). These larger ribs can he felt through the sides of the fish and help in distinguishing the permit from the pompano. In profile, juvenile permit are roundish, whereas adults are oblong. In overall appearance the permit is a silvery fish with dusky fins, though the back is usually bluish or grayish. The ventral fins and the anterior margin of the anal fin may be orange in some specimens.

Permit feed in much the same way as bonefish, rooting in the sand on shallow fiats, through they rarely stir much mud or marl. Their diet consists primarily of mollusks, crustaceans, sea urchins, and less commonly, of smaller fish. They are. often attracted to areas where the bottom is being stirred up.

The permit is a tough fighter on light tackle. When hooked it makes an initial long, fast run towards deep water, twisting and pausing to bump its head on the bottom or rob its mouth in the sand in an effort to disengage the book. If there is coral, a sea fan, or any other obstacle on which the permit can snag the line, it will. To complicate matters, the permit's mouth is as tough as shoe leather and it simply spits out the hook the first time there is a slack in the tine.

Fishing methods include casting to fish sighted in shallow water, bottom fishing, fishing over inshore wrecks, and jigging from boats or while wading. Baits and lures include crabs, shrimp, clams, conch, streamer flies, bonefish jigs, weighted bucktails, plugs, etc. Because of the permit's tough mouth it helps to strike hard several times when the fish has taken the bait; half a dozen strikes is not too many. The permit is considered excellent eating.