My favorite tropical fishing spot is Zipolo Habu Resort in the Solomon Islands, a gem of a remote fishing resort, and one that offers a huge range of fishing opportunities to a keen angler. One of my main fishing options that I have come to enjoy is stalking the inner lagoon bommies with light tackle, and smaller lures, to see just what sorts of weird and wonderful fish I can pull from these fishy patches of foul ground.
To do this on my last trip I took with me a load of the excellent little Sebile Flatt Shad lures, in a range of sizes, aiming to use a Penn Conflict 4000 reel loaded with 12lb (6kg) Whiplash braid and a Fin-nor Lethal 40, loaded with rovex braid. On this trip I had a selection of light Hamachi rods to give a good thrashing as well.
The Sebile Flatt Shad and Hamachi Rod were a great combo to nail this fat Passionfruit Coral Trout.
The lagoon around the resort at Zipolo, the Vonavona lagoon, has huge areas of sand, scattered with small patches of coral bommies, and deeper channels lined with reef as well. The area just screams “Fish!” to any anglers eyes.
Mostly around 4 metres deep or so, with bommies rising to just sub-surface, a huge range of fish can be found in and around these isolated bommies and reefs, from some solid Giant Trevally, down to tiny reef cod and sweetlips.
To be cruising over a warm, sun-lit tropical lagoon like the Vonavona, in the middle of what at home was a cold and bleak winter was truly fishing nirvana, you’ve really gotta try it!
I have found the best bommies to target for larger fish are those surrounding deeper passes, naturally, with fish here being mostly larger trevally, but with a mix of mackerel, barracuda and solid groper or cod lurking over the edges, while in clearer, sandy areas, the isolated bommies only a few metres square often hold surprisingly good size fish such as red bass and coral trout. Over the very tops of the bommies and reefs you tend to land only smaller coral species like the beautiful Peacock Rock Cods….anything larger in the really skinny water will reef you every time…always care plenty of spare lures and trace!
The 77mm Sebile Flatt Shad, this the hot orange and gold, was flavour for the day for this nice little Peacock Rock Cod, taken on my spare Penn Spinfisher 5500 reel.
My favourite Sebile Flatt Shad size I have found for these reefs to be the 77mm, a decent sized lure that can cast a very good distance.
These lures have a superb tight vibrating action to them, swim nice and deep, and have some very sexy colours. For the clear water lagoon I have found the Blue silver, with a red oil in the belly to be perhaps the most effective. Second favourite is the colour I love for trout fishing at home in New Zealand, the Orange and gold.
I will give a word of caution on the Sebiles though, the normal coloured ones, such as you see here mostly, semi see through, all worked flawlessly, however the ones with full metallic coating, the ones that looked especially sexy to me, just could not handle the tropical heat. First I noticed with only these metallic painted lures was that they seemed to be swelling along the top near the eye, and before long they had all split along the seam along the top of the lures. Whether it was too hot in the tackle box in the tropics or whatever I dont know, but the normal, non-metallic Sebiles never even looked slightly ill. So…my tip? If heading to the tropics….don’t get the metallic painted Sebile Flatt Shads..
This metallic coated Sebile Flatt Shad (I put a little red nail polish along the gills just to prettify it up a little) is a great lure, looks fantastic, and over half of the examples I had with me in the Solomons ruptured along the top, I was told “from the heat” None of the other colour Sebile Flatt Shads I had there, in exactly the same part of the same tackle box, ever did this though. Not good.
However, mostly, these lures are faultless. They have excellent hooks, very solid Owner hooks, the larger than 77mm have silver saltwater hooks, while the smaller 66 and 77mm often have just bronzed freshwater hooks, but at least they are not the cheap “instarust” hooks you often get on lures.
Larger Long Toms are suckers for anything flashy that swims within eyesight…and their eyesight is very good indeed! This good specimen couldn’t help itself from nailing the Sebile Flatt Shad, which led to a very aerial scrap….Longtoms truly do go ballistic when hooked!
Clear water over very shallow bommies means you need both some muscle to skull drag a fish and some finesse in working them around coral heads. But, every so often, you do get to land the fish….
…a nice little bluefin trevally, expertly piloted out of very skinny and very gnarly water by a skillful angler…Me. So Modest.
On a lazy afternoon, prowling the bommies, these lures really are fun to mess about with, as fish after fish will nail the lures as they swim out over the edges of the cover provided by the bommies.
Small coral trout like this Square Tail are regular captures to light tackle bommie fishing lures. This nice specimen was fated to become the boatmans dinner, how to keep the staff happy!
By no means do you need to stick to one pattern of lure though, always take a mix of lures, small poppers are always a darn good idea, especially in the deeper areas where really nice fish may lurk, on every trip I took, apart from my main 12lb sets, a good 20lb set to work poppers for larger fish. For a real work out in tight waters, a few extra horsepower to hold a fish is a huge help, especially when fish like these can turn up!
A trophy sized Mangrove Jack was a surprise capture off the shallow water bommie in the background of this picture. Charging out from the cover of the bommie, it had several shots at the popper before finally latching on to it. Luckily by then it had just managed to get far enough from its shelter that we ….only just…managed to stop it from getting back to its hole.
Ramona, daughter of the Zipolo Habu Resorts owners, was very chuffed to land this nicely marked cod on a 96mm Flatt Shad. Yep. Dinner.
You never know what is going to turn up, this immature Maori Wrasse was released after taking a shine to this Flatt Shad.
Even Sweetlip Emperors love these little lures, the Hamachi set dealing to yet another species pulled from skinny waters.
So, if you happen to be in the tropics, and things are conspiring against you for a trip out wide to chase the big stuff, don’t be proud, go prepared with a selection of small lures…small poppers and I would urge a selection of the Sebile Flatt Shads, a good 12-15lb (6kg) spinset such as the Hamachi sets shown here, and you can have yourself a real blast messing about in the calm. And, just quietly? These fish taste way nicer too!