Permit are from the family Carangidae and are found in the western Atlantic Ocean. Their name “permit” is roughly translated from Greek to mean “rough back” and refers to their dorsal fin that is shaped like a scythe. The dorsal fin can be seen from the surface when schools of permits are feeding just below.
These fish are usually found in shallow water with soft, muddy bottoms. It is best to fish for them in channels and mud flats where the waters are tropical. They feed on invertebrates such as crabs and shrimp as well as smaller fish. Juvenile permits are found in the surf and are a favorite viewing for scuba divers. Permits are also found offshore where they are known to spawn throughout the year.
A lot of fishermen and divers confuse permit with a similar looking fish called a “Pompano”. A permit has a wider body whereas the Pompano is longer. Pompano have a yellow belly while the permit has patches of yellow near the anal fin. Permits tend to be more silver in color and the pompano has a more gold color.
You can find permit from Massachusetts to Brazil with your best luck in tropical waters.