A lot of folks like to analogize permit fishing in relation to baseball, because baseball uses statistics.Those folks believe that if you throw your fly at enough permit, and play the numbers game, sooner or later you will catch one, and therefore the equation can be reduced to a shots-per-day calculation. If you are really good, say a .300 angler, you will catch more permit if given more chances. I find this analogy true for the most part, but, at its core, permit fishing isn’t a regular-season sport. More often than not, great permit fishing occurs in some of the most challenging and pressurized conditions and situations. At it’s highest level, it’s more akin to the postseason.
I prefer to think of it like football’s fourth quarter. There’s an intangible to permit fishing that goes beyond the statistician’s approach and numbers and that happens really fast. It’s feeling the pressure, a sense of timing, cadence and stepping into the pocket to make the play. Good permit fishermen might play in the NFL, but great permit fishermen are those who win Super Bowls.
Now, all this analogizing is well and good, and everybody loves thinking of themselves as an elite quarterback as they stand on the bow of a turquoise skiff in their light blue technical fishing shirt, throwing a cream or pink fly. But “doing the Tebow” with a permit in hand isn’t what I’m talking about. What I’m saying is that, despite the pastel nature of our uniforms and overly dramatic celebratory Facebook postings, there are similarities between marching a team down the field and executing a late-afternoon cast with wind in your face. The connection is the mind-set it takes to succeed at both. You cannot wilt in the moment or reach back to throw a Hail Mary bomb and hope for the best. Permit fishing is harder than that and favors the mentally dominant. The singular biggest advantage in permit fishing is in your head. You have to rise up, see the shot, feel the pressure, make the cast, sell the fly, win the fight and get the cheerleader’s number — all before your guide says “go!”