Scott’s Species – permit, a fly fishers’ dream catch

Permit, aka snub-nosed dart, are sort of on my bucket list, but at the same time aren’t really. Confused? Try being me! We have two species of permit in WA, writes Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan, and they are generally found from Coral Bay north in inshore waters.

Species: Permit, Trachinotus blochii/Trachinotus anak

Eating: 3 stars

ID: Round head, forked tail, yellowish tinge on fins.

Blair Sewell with a permit from the Exmouth Gulf. 📸Ningaloo Fly Fishing

A renowned sportfish worldwide, they are not a fish I have ever sought out to catch specifically, although many anglers, especially fly fishers, are obsessed with them.

I don’t usually think about catching them until I see one and I then think it would be cool to cross them off my list.

However, by that time it’s usually way too late as you need to be on the ball to successfully catch permit, well so it appears anyway.

Most of the permit I have seen have been around Exmouth, in fact last year I spotted quite a few around Wilderness Island.

They weren’t feeding at the time, but rather just riding the current out of one creek system.

I also remember seeing huge numbers of permit in one creek on the east side of Exmouth Gulf years ago.

I thought they were golden trevally at first and wondered why they wouldn’t look at my lures, but eventually it dawned on me that this creek was full of permit.

Permit are a renowned sportfish worldwide!

I sometimes wonder about fishing there for them one day but it hasn’t happened yet.

I have been told an outgoing tide Exmouth is a prime spot for permit fishing and they can be caught in the gulf and along the west coast. However, it is the former location that seems to be best for them and there are several sportfishing guides who can expertly put their clients onto permit.

They are able to spot permit on the shallow flats of the gulf to enable their clients to cast to them.

Broome is another spot that is noted for them, and I can recall watching a great video called, from memory, Heads and Tails, which showed shore anglers chasing big schools of them from the beach just north of Broome.

There is also an amazing little fishery near the jetty, where permit will take flies off the surface in summer.

When small crabs are being pulled out of Dampier Creek, the permit will rise to the surface to grab them and a floating crab fly can be used, although I am told this fishery is not as good as it once was.

Leigh Freestone was more than happy with this Exmouth Gulf permit. 📸 Ningaloo Flyfishing

I have seen permit in other locations around WA, including at the Rowley Shoals and the Cocos Islands, but certainly Broome and Exmouth would be two of the better locations to try if you were dead keen on catching one, with Port Hedland also popular with some anglers.

They are also found in decent numbers around Dampier. Tide is not important for permit as they will move in and out with the current, but the key is to find where they are at any point in time.

Fly fishing is by far the most popular way to target them with an eight-weight outfit ideal.

The lightest leader possible is recommended, and the smaller the fly the better when casting at fish.

Casting accuracy that will enable you to present the fly to the feeding fish is a great advantage.

Permit are usually eating molluscs such as mussels and cockles and offer great sight fishing opportunities, but matching the hatch is usually important.

However, they are also opportunistic feeders and crab flies are a very popular option.

Small soft plastics will work on them, as will Cranka Crabs with upgraded trebles, and you could also try one of the new mussel lures that are taking the bream world by storm!

Permit caught in WA are generally in the 5-7kg range and anything bigger than that is a very worthy capture indeed.

Tom Howe with a permit from somewhere in the Pilbara. 📸 Angus Line

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