Also known as Silver Pompano or just Pompano, it is a member of the Carangid family and a relative of the Atlantic permit (Trachinotus falcatus). For this reason we simply refer to all fish belonging to this family and found in the waters of the Indo-Pacific as Permit.
Permit are the ultimate fish to catch on a fly as they are fast, powerful, beautiful, spooky and suspicious of any unnatural food presented to them. Permit fishing demands dedication and commitment. There will be days, weeks and even months with little chance of reward.
In saying this however, the Seychelles and St Brandons are one of the best destinations to target this species as several of the more remote outer atolls harbor large numbers of Permit.
When fishing these places the majority of your time is spent wading and stalking these fish on foot. Unlike most other destinations the flats are hard and light making the wading easy and enjoyable.
When going to a destination like the Seychelles or St Brandons for the first time it is always advisable to hire an experienced guide and no more so is this true than when hunting Permit. To find Permit, you have to think Permit. To catch Permit you have to know where to find them and what they are eating. After spending countless hours guiding for Permit, we have identified areas where they move and onto the flats to feed, as well as the areas where they stop and feed just before the tide forces them off again. We have also determined at which stage of the incoming and outgoing tides the fish move on and off the flats. Like most other flats species, Permit will be more numerous during specific moon phases.
A great deal of locating the fish requires simple common sense and a reasonable understanding of tides and the layout of the flat. Like most other fish found on a flat, Permit don’t like water that is too warm. They often arrive later onto a flat than bonefish as their size and shape requires deeper water to move in.
Permit access the flats of an atoll just like humans use a highways to reach their destination. They use cuts through the outer reef when accessing from the seaward side and channels from the lagoon side. Targeting any of these areas should prove to be successful. The only way to determine whether a channel will be productive or not, is by spending time there and viewing if the fish use it. When scouting for access points on the outer reef, one should look for channels that lead directly from the ocean onto the flats. These outer reef areas are usually fringed by turtle grass and as Permit are hard to spot on this kind of bottom it is best to find a sandy patch amongst the grass to ambush these fish.
The Tide and Moon
As the biggest movement of water onto the flat is on and around an incoming spring tide we have found that this is the most productive time to fish for Permit. On a good day and with light permitting, one can fish for Permit in three stages. The initial tidal push is the first, and then one should follow the fish as they move higher up onto the flat. This will usually take place within an hour of the first surge. Another possibility is to target them during the final two hours before high tide when they are up close to islands or on higher areas of the flat, or in an area you know they are going to leave a flat for deeper water.
The time of day and water temperature dictate where to fish for Permit. We would only fish the channels on the lagoon side of the atoll in the morning when the water is cool. These channels can be fished on both an incoming or outgoing tide. The reef access routes can also be fished at any time of the day but best on the incoming tide.
Permit are consistently found where there are little patches of turtle grass on a sand flat. We usually look around these patches during the latter stages of an incoming tide, during high tide, and the first stages of an outgoing tide.
Casting and Fighting
There is a very fine line when stalking and casting to spotted Permit. A foot step too close or an inch too far on the cast will cost you a fish. There is no substitute for time on the water. It allows you the valuable opportunity to observe fish, study their behavior, and learn to read their body language.
Once a Permit has been hooked your first priority is to clear the slack fly line and get the fish onto the reel. We find that pushing the butt of the rod into the forearm and turning the wrist to let the reel handle face upward greatly reduces a chance of the fly line wrap. We gradually increase the drag as the fish takes off on its run. During the fight, change the angle of the rod by dropping it to the opposite side at which the fish is aimed. By doing so the fish is thrown off balance, shortening the fight and ending up in it being landed quicker. We release the drag a little when the fish is close as the powerful bursts of a Permit will often pop the tippet. The easiest way to land the fish is by lifting the head and tailing it around its caudal. All Permit should be released after a series of photographs.
- Fly Rod: Quick action 9 foot 9 to 10 weight fly rod.
- Reel & Backing: Saltwater series reel that can hold 300 or more meters of 50 – 60lbs braid. A Bimini Twist to Double Surgions should be tied into the braid, following which the fly line and backing should be joined using the loop to loop method.
- Fly Lines: Weight forward 9 to 10 weight saltwater floating line 30lbs braided loops nail knotted on both ends.
- Leaders: 15 – 17lb 12ft tapered fluorocarbon leader
- Knots: Fly to leader – Improved Homer Rhode or Perfection Loop; Leader to braided loop – Perfection Loop.
- Flies: Spawning Shrimps, Fleeing Crabs and Merkins tied in natural colour combinations of sand and tan on Gamagkatsu No 2 – SC12S (Link to fly patterns and fly Tying)
- Boots: A good quality thick rubber soled boot with ankle support.
- Gravel guards: A good idea to prevent sand penetrating your boots.
- Sunglasses: Dark amber or mirror blue grey lenses.
Before leaving on your trip you will be briefed in detail by the FlyCastaway guides as to exactly what fly patterns you are going to need and how you should prepare your tackle. For all our destinations we have compiled a comprehensive tackle list.