Serious permit anglers are a breed of their own. Not thinking twice about spending hours on the flats under the harsh sun, their hope is for that one opportunity to take a shot at a permit. It’s been described as mentally exhausting, demoralizing, and way too fun.
If you’re a permit addict or just want to chase the elusive fish and see what it’s all about, these permit destinations should be in your travel plans.
1. Belize Permit Club – The name says it all. Run by permit guru Wil Flack, the lodge is ideally located in central Belize, just south of Hopkins. The fishing operation chases one fish, and one fish only: permit. This isn’t a hoity-toity lodge with bath oils and scented soaps. Although they’re basic accommodations, it’s a comfortable and quaint lodge that’s perfect for getting on the flats and pursuing the holy grail of saltwater species. If you’re looking to land a permit, BPC has access to the finest permit flats in arguably the entire world. It’s guaranteed once you start stalking tailing fish in skinny water (and hopefully), land a permit – you’ll be figuring out how to get back to Belize Permit Club as quickly as possible.
2. Garbutt’s Fishing Lodge – Run by the four Garbutt Brothers for the last 15 years, the lodge is located in Southern Belize in the town of Punta Gorda. It was built by anglers, for anglers. This fishing-focused operation primarily concentrates on permit, although bonefish and tarpon can also be found in the fishery. Garbutt’s has spacious, comfortable rooms, and after long days on the flats, guests can relax at the lodge’s Grand Slam Bar. With hundreds of flats less than 30 minutes from the lodge, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more convenient location. If you’re serious about permit, then this is the spot.
3. Espiritu Santo Bay – Finished just April of this year, ESB is truly in the Mexico wilderness. South of the busier Ascension Bay, the lodge sits in the heart of the Sian Ka’an biosphere. Not only is it more remote than most lodges, but with strict regulations imposed by the biosphere, angling numbers are strictly regulated. All this makes the fishery second to none. If you’re chasing permit, then this is the place to be. Channels, lagoons, and flats make up the healthy fishery; there’s never a lack of new places to explore.
4. Xflats Lodge - This operation has quickly become one of our favorite permit fishing locations in the entire Caribbean. Situated in the quaint Mexican coastal town of Xcalak, Xflats Lodge has access to the southeast region of Chetumal Bay as well as an excellent fishery "out front" on the oceanside flats. The lodge itself, formerly Tierra Maya Lodge, has a super laid-back vibe, a terrific "Fish Bar" and restaurant, as well as a long pier where guests have been known to spot, feed, and land permit! In addition to permit, their main focus, anglers can also target tarpon and snook in cenotes, bonefish on shallow water flats, jack crevalle, and numerous other species.
5. Grand Slam Lodge – Sian Ka’an biosphere encompasses Ascension Bay and Espiritu Santo Bay over 1.2 million acres, and Grand Slam sits at the northern part of the reserve. Although the operation is primarily fishing-focused, the lodge does not skimp on accommodations offering spacious and comfortable rooms. With access to countless permit flats, Grand Slam can put anglers in great situations to stalk and land permit. There’s an expanse of permit flats right out the front door comprising of Ascension Bay & Boca Paila. Permit average 10 to 15 pounds with occasional large ones in the 30-pound range. Any lodge that boasts places named “Permit Alley” should be on every serious angler’s list.
5. Mango Creek – On the Eastern end of Roatan, one of the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras, is Mango Creek Lodge. The small intimate lodge operation is a comfortable place from where to chase permit. The island is surrounded by rich flats of hard sand, turtle grass, and coral making a great habit for a healthy number of fish. On the flats, anglers can pursue tailing permit that are feeding in groups. It’s not uncommon for fly fishers to take 10 to 12 shots at permit a day! And those fish are usually in the 5 to 10-pound size range and even some up to 20 pounds. This is an exotic destination where stalking permit on the flats is the name of the game.
6. Cayo Largo – Named the “Permit Capital of Cuba” the fisheries of Cayo Largo have been mostly untouched for hundreds of years. The picture-perfect setting complete with white sand beaches is something out of a dream. The flats of the fishery hold large numbers of fish including tarpon and bonefish. Stalk tailing fish from the bow of the skiff and enjoy mint juleps in the evenings overlooking the crystalline Caribbean waters.
7. Cayo Romano and Cayo Cruz – The two fisheries make up an extensive system of flats, lagoons, and pristine estuaries. The fishery is protected from commercial fishing, so it has relatively minimal pressure for fly fishers. It’s not uncommon to be the only skiff in 30 square miles on the flats. It's still largely untouched since the fishery has only seen anglers over the last four seasons. Fly fishers can stalk tailing fish on the hard-packed white sand and can expect plenty of shots at permit. This is one of the few locations in the world where you can be chasing tailing bones and permit in the same place. If you’re a hardcore permit fly fisher, you need to check this place out.
Permit are elusive and difficult to catch. It takes time and patience to catch a permit, but sometimes it all comes together, and you land one of the treasured fish.
8. Poivre and St. Joseph's Atoll - Last but certainly not least is Poivre in the Seychelles. For anglers that are permit fishing addicts and are willing to prioritize a week to fishing for Indo-Pacific permit, then a trip to this small outer atoll is for you. Located in the Amirantes Islands group of out-islands of the Seychelles, Poivre consistently produces the finest permit fishing in the entire region. The islands are surrounded by very remote and stunning saltwater flats teeming with life. Anglers will stay on a luxurious 75-foot power catamaran liveaboard, with access to numerous large and expansive flats via 16-foot technical fishing skiffs.
For more information on permit lodges, trips, how-to articles, and more visit our permit fly fishing page.
+ Listen to these WAYPOINTS Podcasts on Permit Fishing:
- WIL FLACK: Feeding Permit - Tips and Techniques for Chasing the Black-Tailed Devil
- JESSE COLTEN: The Xcalak Episodes Part 2