Friday, May 12, 2006

Catching a permit makes it a grand slam

For angler Jim Carkonen

Sun Valley's Jim Carkonen, a very young 53, is still a pretty decent basketball shooter.

But even a game-winning half-court shot couldn't have made Carkonen any happier than what happened during his recent fishing trip to Mexico.

He landed a permit April 25.

Not a hunting permit or fishing permit. No, the permit he landed was a very large fish, 33 inches long, weighing 24 pounds. They are very elusive and difficult to see in the water.

Carkonen said it was like finding the "holy grail" of the sea. He compared it to shooting a hole-in-one in golf. He landed two other saltwater fish, bonefish (easiest) and tarpon (more difficult). The permit was the black diamond run of them all.

"Many avid saltwater anglers spend a lifetime in pursuit and come up short," he said. "In fly fishing, when an angler lands a bonefish, tarpon and permit all in the same outing it's called a grand slam!"

Sturtevants Mountain Outfitters fly fishing guide Carkonen flew deep into southern Yucatan to a small lodge among the Mayan ruins called Playa Blanca. The jungle of mangroves and endless lagoons is located in the Espiritu Santo Bay area just north of Belize.

Joining the "team effort" was Carkonen's 25-year fishing friend Reed Schifferman.

After landing the permit with the help of Schifferman, who grabbed the big fish's tail, Carkonen was thrown overboard into the Caribbean by Schifferman, in celebration.

Carkonen said, "Permit are extremely difficult to catch—tough to see and very spooky to get a cast to. And even when you do, they are very fussy eaters and rarely take your fly.

"Most average around five pounds. They eat mostly small crabs, shrimp and mollusks. When hooked they make long, powerful runs nearly impossible to stop. Hooking, fighting and landing an adult permit is a point of pride in many angling careers."

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