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#57 - Palometa

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Ronan's report


Wednesday 17th June, 2009

My quest to land 100 species of fish on flies continued during recent explorations in the Bahamas. I happily added three new species to my list: barracuda, ladyfish, and palometa. I'd hooked the first two species before, but never landed them until this trip. I knew they would be around and I planned to fish for them. The palometa, however, was a complete surprise. I'd never even seen one before I held one. And when I held one, I wasn't 100% sure what I was holding. That's the magic of saltwater fishing. You never really know what might show up and take your fly.

Grayish-blue-green on top of head and along the back; bright silvery sides; yellow on breast; elongated dorsal and anal fins; dusky or black with bluish edges; deep body, with four narrow bars high on the sides, and traces of a fifth fin nearer the tail; no scutes. The technical description just doesn't do this fish justice.

Striking. Elegant. Unique. Those seem more fitting as adjectives to describe this terrific little gamefish. Having never seen one before, this fish's unique beauty caught me completely off guard. The palometa's long, black sickle fins just look classy and exotic. Classier even, I think, than its cousin, the permit.

The palometa that we saw and landed were in the 9 - 15 inch range. I don't think they get too much bigger. All of them were solid, scrappy fighters, but fish over 12 inches really made some decent runs and put a bend into the 8wts. 6wt kits would have really been great fun. Like other jacks, they really pack a lot of fight for their size.

On more than one occasion, we found packs of them cruising fast along the sand bottomed cuts of oceanside flats. Blind casting was effective, but if you could see them coming, and lead the pack so as not to spook them at all, you really couldn't miss. They gobbled up our bonefish flies with no hesitation.

When the tide came in, and some of the palometa moved onto the flats with the bonefish, it was a different story. Those tailing palometa looked just like mini-permit, and from what I've heard, they acted the same way permit act towards flies. On the flats, the palometa completely ignored the fly patterns that they took in a rush in the cuts. When I presented a small crab pattern, they noticed it, but after inspecting the fly at close range with their big eyes, every fish rejected the offering. Humbled after several repeats, I turned my attention to the bones, who were far less discerning when it came to my false crustaceans.

So, here's to the palometa, and all of the other wonderful, beautiful, and unexpected surprises in life.

Fish On,
Matt


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