Permit (Trachinotus falcatus)


An important gamefish and a particularly prized member of the Carangidae family of jacks and pompano, the permit is a tough fighter and a handful on light tackle.

Identification

In overall appearance, the permit is a brilliantly silver fish with dark fins and a dark or iridescent blue to greenish or grayish back. The belly is often yellowish, and sometimes the pelvic fins and the front lobe of the anal fin have an orange tint.

Many individuals have a dark, circular black area on the sides behind the base of the pectoral fins, and some have a dusky midbody blotch. The body is laterally compressed, and the fish has a high back profile; young fish appear roundish, adults more oblong. Small permit have teeth on the tongue.

The permit has 16 to 19 soft anal rays, and the second dorsal fin has one spine and 17 to 21 soft rays, compared with 22 to 27 in the similar Florida pompano. It is further distinguished by its deeper body and a generally larger body size.

Also, the second and the third ribs in the permit are prominent in fish weighing more than 10 pounds, and these ribs can be felt through the sides of the fish to help in differentiating it from the Florida pompano.

Size

Permit commonly weigh up to 25 pounds and are 1 to 3 feet long, but they can exceed 50 pounds and reach 45 inches in length. The all-tackle world record is a 56-pound, 2-ounce Florida fish caught in 1997.

Food and feeding habits

Over sandy bottoms, permit feed mainly on mollusks, and over reefs they feed mostly on crustaceans such as crabs, shrimp, and sea urchins. Like bonefish, they feed by rooting in the sand on shallow flats.

Other Names

French: carangue plume; Portuguese: sernambiguara; Spanish: palometa, pampano, pampano erizero, pámpano palometa.

Distribution

Permit occur in the western Atlantic, ranging from Massachusetts to southeastern Brazil, including the Bahamas and much of the West Indies. They are most common in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.

Habitat

Permit inhabit shallow, warm waters in depths of up to 100 feet, and young fish prefer clearer and shallower waters than do adults. Able to adapt to a wide range of salinity, they occur in channels or holes over sandy flats and around reefs and sometimes over mud bottoms. They are primarily a schooling fish when younger, traveling in groups of 10 or more, although they are occasionally seen in great numbers, and they tend to become solitary with age.
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