Permit in Charlotte Harbor? Well, they are found outside in the Gulf. But I have fished in the harbor for several years and never seen a one. Okay, their close cousin the Florida pompano is certainly there. I’ve caught them. And you could easily mistake one for a permit. But if asked, I would have told you permit are not in Charlotte Harbor.
Last winter at a meeting of the Pine Island Fly Fishers, I learned otherwise. A fisheries person informed us that small juvenile permit do in fact exist in Charlotte Harbor. Man, I was surprised. And then more recently, low and behold, my friend Dave caught one on a fly! Yes it was, as announced, a small juvenile permit. But hey, its permit just the same.
Separating a small permit from a Florida Pompano requires a close eye. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the permit is the fact that the dorsal and anal fins are in a direct line. A pompano’s dorsal fin starts ever so slightly forward of the anal fin. The permit also has a longer forked tail and a steeper forehead. As you can see in the photo above the pompano’s forehead slopes back gradually.
This chart shows more differences. Besides what I mentioned above, note that the permit has longer dorsal and anal fins. Obviously permit grow much larger too, often reaching 40 pounds. Florida pompano never attain that size. In Charlotte Harbor they are commonly in the 1-2 pound range, although 5 pounders are around at times. And Florida pompano are known to reach upwards of 8 pounds. But that’s tops.