FF Ambassador Bre Drake recounts her recent ladies permit trip to Mexico. Scroll on to check out the story!
Words by: Bre Drake, Photos by: Bre Drake, Dolores Cavatore, and Karen Sachar
An Escape to Permit Heaven
After too much time spent dragging my feet, I finally pulled the trigger and secured a spot on Meredith McCord’s hosted ladies permit trip at the world famous Palometa Club. A trip with twelve strangers, who despite a global pandemic and category four hurricane, still managed to live the dream of chasing permit, bonefish and tarpon down in Mexico.
The Palometa Club is an old-school fishing lodge located on the Northeast edge of Ascension Bay in Punta Allen, Mexico. It is run by the loveliest couple and staffed with top notch local cooks and fishing guides. God bless them for hosting a group of twelve women for seven days and making it look effortless. The hosts took great care of us and kept us fed, entertained, and comfortable during our long days chasing the silver devil. In current times, it is also worth mentioning that Palometa Club’s COVID-19 protocols were reasonable and kept staff and guests safe during our stay.
Our days at the club went like this – we’d wake up to gorgeous Ascension Bay sunrises, sip fresh brewed coffee with our feet in the sand, eat a delicious lodge cooked breakfast, gather our gear, step into the ocean to load up in pangas, and fish for 8 hours with first-class guides. Then, we’d return to Maureen’s homemade margaritas, permit flag raising & fish stories, appetizers, an amazing dinner spread, fishing presentations by Meredith & Mike, a night cap of music,
dancing, & more fishing stories, and slip off to bed at some point. As you would imagine, the days were also dotted with endless shenanigans and laughter throughout. I could spend every day like that!!
A Permit is a Permit
The Ascension Bay area had recently been hit by back-to-back hurricanes, so we were forewarned about the fish likely needing a few days to stabilize before getting back to normal. The fishing during said “stabilization period” was still off the charts. We had phenomenal fishing all week, and it’s mostly attributable to how hard the guides at Palometa Club work and their unmatched level of passion.
I have looked up to Meredith McCord as an angler and businesswoman for many years, and to my pleasant surprise, not only were we roommates for the week, but I also got to fish with her the first day of our trip. I enjoyed watching and learning from her. She was so supportive and offered great advice. As an added bonus, I caught my first permit of the trip on the first day with her cheering me on! It was a little guy, and truth be told, I thought I was casting at a bonefish until I dropped my fly, but a permit is a permit, and a day one permit is ideal as it takes the edge off for the rest of the week. Thank you to Meredith McCord, and guides Luis and Julio!
That day one permit set the stage for me to catch 2 more permit on day two with guides Sami and Carlos, and angler, Dolores. The second permit of that day floated up with one other fish at my nine o’clock. I laid down a quick cast from the panga, and he ate before I could get all the way through my first long, slow strip. He took me into the backing three times and made me so unbelievably happy when he was finally tail grabbed by Sami.
I had the pleasure of spending day three with the legendary Gerardo, Rodo and Karen (angler/photographer). We had some strange weather and cloud cover that urged us to spend the morning targeting snook and tarpon. I caught some bonefish earlier that morning too. My first permit shot did not present itself until 3pm, and he showed no interest in the fly. I thought to myself, “well, that was my shot for the day.” Thirty minutes later, however, I heard the magic Spanish words “escuela, escuela,” or “school, school!” The words every permit angler wants to hear.
Gerardo jumped in the water first to check the depth before asking me to hop in. It was just barely shallow enough that we could chase them on foot. I hopped in barefoot to save time, then Gerardo and I sprinted through shoulder deep water towards the school. Casting in deep water is difficult, and ugly, but I got my fly in front of the school and an eager permit took it almost instantly. The school charged straight at us. I was quickly stripping to keep the line tight and hopping backwards as Gerardo aggressively splashed the water, spooking the school away from us. When permit fishing, I have a mini celebration when I clear the line and get on the reel, and a then a full celebration when the guide gets his hands on the permit. In between those two moments, I am just holding my breath. It was an unforgettable experience shared with great people.
The Wrap Up
The Ascension Bay fishing opportunities are bountiful. I got to fish with sixteen different people during the week, which provided me with different insights, advice, tactics, experiences, stories and opportunities to grow, support, and encourage – it was just plain awesome.
I finished off the week having landed 4 permit. It was pure bliss to make it happen multiple times and on a ladies trip. I am so grateful for the support and empowerment from the ladies, Mike & Maureen and the guides at Palometa Club.
Each of us went into this trip not knowing one another, and at all different fly-fishing experience levels. I feel like it came at the perfect time in each of our lives. I left with an experience I’ll never forget and dozens of new friends. I am looking forward to getting back to the Palometa Club as soon as possible. Most importantly, for the ladies, if you’ve been thinking about going on an all-ladies trip, do it! And for everyone, if you’ve been leaning towards a trip to Palometa club, do it! I truly loved every minute.