New state permit record set for second time this year

New state permit record set for second time this year
Rash of rare tropical species being caught on Al. Coast this month

By David “Pierpounder” Thornton
For the second time this year, the Alabama state record for Permit has been broken! In of itself this may not be much of an anomaly, but when put in perspective along with other recent rare catches along the Gulf beaches, it possibly offers further evidence supporting a long term shift of some ‘new’ fish populations into our area.
Juvenile permit along with other more tropical type fish species have occasionally been observed and documented in our waters in the past. However, their frequency of occurrence seems to be increasing in recent years, along with their size.
Besides the scattered permit we have grown accustomed to hearing about, there has been a rash of species catches even rarer for our region this month. Palometa, closely related to permit and pompano, and even bonefish (over a pound) have been landed along the Alabama Coast and Florida Panhandle. These species are more typically indigenous to the warm, shallow coastal waters off southwest Florida and the Keys.
Does the widespread use of social media by an increasing number of beach fishing anglers simply draw more attention to these occasional natural oddities?
Another difficulty in saying for sure the appearance of these fish is further evidence of climate change is clouded by the unusual course and intensity of Hurricane Ian across Florida at the end of September. Post-storm visible satellite images showed an immense plume of discolored water pushed more than a hundred miles offshore from the Florida Peninsula.
Meanwhile, here we experienced a ‘gale force’ offshore wind followed by several weeks of calm and clear water conditions similar to that typically experienced along the southwestern Florida coastline. Plus, it is not unprecedented for a major hurricane to displace fish.
Even reef fish may be moved hundreds of miles into areas outside their normal range during a major storm. Like in 1985 when Hurricane Elena moved millions of gag grouper from the Big Bend area of Florida to the northern Gulf Coast. They stayed a few months until winter, then returned to their native waters.
In time, based on observations, we may draw better conclusions that establish whether or not these fish have indeed become established and breed in our area.
Pictured: 12 year old Griffin Haaa is mighty proud of this potential record Alabama permit he caught while fishing with local guide Scott Kennedy; This likely Alabama record bonefish was caught and released by Rendi Muphree in on the West Beach in Gulf Shores recently.