Every year, the most demanding fly fishermen from across the country gather in the Florida Keys to hunt what many consider to be the most elusive fish in the world. At the recent Del Brown Permitting Tournament, honoring the legendary angler who caught and released over 500 permits on fly tackle, fourth-generation Key West fishing guide and G. Loomis elite ambassador Brandon Cyr , led Mike Ward of Spokane, Washington, to six pitches. for three days to earn Team Grand Champion honors.
“Honestly, it’s still surreal and hasn’t been established. When I started guiding, my goal was to win a major permit tournament,” 28-year-old Brandon Cyr reflects on his second major victory, one that ticked so many boxes in his young race. At the time Brandon began his career as a professional guide, there were only two major tournaments: the March Merkin and the Del Brown. Now there is the IGFA Permit Invitational, which Brandon won in 2020, the inaugural year of that event.
“It’s just amazing to me. I still feel like I’m the young man who tries to go after everyone, so having a success like this is beyond me. I don’t know how we did it, but we did it.”
The task at hand is no easy task, as both angler and guide deserve equal recognition for every successful cast. They allow an incredible sense of sight, smell and hearing, and analyze their prey more than any other fish in the shallows. Convincing such an enthusiastic opponent to eat a fly is one of the greatest feats in angling. To do so consistently over the course of three days, and to outperform an expert field of talented, ambitious and experienced anglers and guides, requires intricate knowledge of fish characteristics and relentless dedication to the species.
“If I could pick the perfect permitting weather, I would pick 10 to 15 mph winds. Just enough to hide the noise of the boat and hide the noise of the fly landing, but not enough to hinder the cast. Ninety percent of the time we have permission to fish in the wind, and we had the opposite all week for Del Brown. The first day we went out with a wind of 5 to 8 mph per hour, which makes things very difficult.”
The shallow shoals of Key West offer world class opportunities and Brandon Cyr has been fishing there all his life. But it is challenging fishing. Permits are hard-pressed and hair-raising, and opportunities are often limited. Time complicates things even more.
“That is one of the reasons why much less fish than usual was put on the board. He was calm and it was very hot. At the end of each day, the water temperature hovered around 91 degrees. That really played into our strategy. When I scouted a couple of days before the tournament, I was looking for places that had an incredible amount of current. I knew from the water temperature and the wind conditions that the fish were not going to be doing their normal thing,” says Cyr.
On hot summer days, it can be profitable to locate light-colored flats with deep water nearby. Permission will often move up to feed for only a short time before retiring to deeper, cooler water.
“The way I like to fish permits and how I set up the boat is very specific. My brother and father are guides, and they can catch the same plane and exactly the same fish but in a completely different way. All of my gear is tuned for exactly what I need it to do and how I plan to present the fish to my anglers.”
Familiar with the Lower Keys tournament scene, Cyr and his angler Mike Ward fished the 2021 Marc Merkin together, where they scored the largest permit of the event but failed to break into the top three spots. Ward has been fishing for the Brown for over a decade and in his best performance yet, the self-proclaimed permit addict counted a 27.5-inch fish on the first day, followed by a 24-inch and 26.75-inch fish. the second day. Day three turned out similarly in the team’s favor, with Cyr leading his bow angler to cast 28.25, 26.5 and 23.25 inches for a three-day total of 900 points. The strong finish to day three was enough to add their names to the Del Brown Perpetual Tournament Trophy on display at the South of the Seven restaurant on Sugarloaf Key.
The life of a permit guide is a constant learning curve. Brandon Cyr is one of the brightest rising stars in saltwater fly fishing and G. Loomis congratulates him on another outstanding achievement.
About G. Loomis
We exist to enhance the angler’s experience by creating tools that expand tactical opportunities, increase effectiveness and enhance natural ability. We develop solutions for experienced hands, designed to complement ability. We strive to expand what is possible to achieve the unattainable.
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