- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Permit are members of the jack family that have a dark, somewhat shiny blue, gray and/or greenish color on the back. Their sides are silvery, while the underside often is yellow. In addition, many permit have a distinctive orange-yellow area on the abdomen. The fins are dark, though the anal fin may be somewhat orange on the front lobe. Occasionally, permit have a black spot behind the pectoral fin.
Permit have a narrow body that is relatively short in length but quite deep, giving them a circular shape. The head is very short and appears almost flat. They have a small mouth with teeth located on the tongue. As fish gain in size and weight, several of the ribs are conspicuous and can be easily felt through the flesh.
The dorsal fins have 6 or 7 spines and 18 to 21 soft rays, in addition to the long dark rear lobes. The anal fin has 2 or 3 spines and 16 to 18 soft rays. Each of these fins has a distinctive sweeping shape, considerably longer toward the front and quickly angling and flattening to a shorter length toward the back. The tail is relatively large and is sickle-shaped.
Permit are found almost exclusively in the tropical and subtropical waters of the western Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Brazil. They are most common around Florida, the Bahamas and the West Indies Islands of the Caribbean. Reasonable numbers can also be found around Bermuda and in the Gulf of Mexico. They are rare north of Florida, and when so they are found only in the Gulf Stream current.
Permit reside in and around reefs and other structure and can adjust to varying salinity levels. For the most part, they are found in warm, shallow areas around sandy or muddy bottoms. They commonly thought of as shallow-dwelling fish, they occasionally inhabit depths up to 100 feet. When shallow, they frequently seek water where currents or tides create slightly turbid water. Permit school when they are young, but become more solitary as they age. Juveniles can be found in large schools in the summer along sandy beaches.
For such a popular fish, almost nothing is known about the reproductive habits of the permit. About the only thing that can be said for certain is that they spawn offshore.
Favored foods of permit include small fish, crabs, mollusks, sea urchins and shrimp. They will root in bottom in search of food along sandy bottoms and around reefs, similar to bonefish. In a year, permit will eat nearly six times their body weight.
Permit are a very popular sportfish, especially around Florida and the Caribbean. This popularity comes in part from their abundance in shallow waters, catchability on light tackle, fighting nature and great taste. In addition, because they are a shy fish, there is a challenge to locating, enticing and hooking permit.
Late spring and early fall are usually the most productive seasons. The best conditions are generally warm (70 to 80 F), sunny, clear days with a gentle breeze. Since permit favor flats, many anglers prefer fishing at high tides, when these areas become submerged and full of food. Crab, especially blue crab, are the bait of choice for most permit anglers. Jigs and various flies will also take permit.
A common target for sight fishing, permit are often spotted prior to the first cast. Stalking the fish on foot or a push-poled boat is often practiced as well. Permit have a very hard inner surface of the mouth, which makes it difficult to set a hook. Sharpened hooks are a necessity and anglers often set the hook several times. When hooked, permit will begin a long, persistent run toward deeper water. They may try to sever the line on a sharp object. Because of their endurance, they have the ability to fight for extended periods and 40-minute battles with a 20-pound permit are not unusual.
- Permit are one of the famed “Big Three” saltwater game fish for fly-anglers, the other two being bonefish and tarpon.