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Escape to the Solomon Islands

AUSTRALIANS are spoilt for choice when it comes to fishing destinations. We live on a giant island and are surrounded by thousands more.

And while the fishing locally is something we all enjoy, some of us are always searching for the next destination, a tropical paradise teeming with fish and somewhere to get away from the daily grind.

One such destination is the Solomon Islands. With over 900 islands dotted across the country and less than three hours flight from Brisbane, it’s no wonder fishing is one of the most common reasons tourists visit this tropical paradise.

Finding a balance between un-spoilt fishing and overdevelopment is tricky. I’ve fished some incredible destinations that are truly off-the-grid and full of fish, yet many of these destinations are incapable of sustaining regular numbers of visitors and are often too difficult to reach or expensive for the average fisho. At the opposite extreme, there are areas with luxury accommodation and daily flights. Unfortunately, these spots are topically spoilt with overfishing and crowds.

The Solomons have found a balance. It’s close to Australia and has a surprising amount of comfortable accommodation and some incredible fishing with so much variety in species and styles of fishing.

Getting to your destination is half the fun and the Solomons is no different. Flying over hundreds of islands between the capital, Honiara, and our first destination, Papatura, was unforgettable. The atolls, shallow flats, drop-offs and cobalt blue water looked so fishy! Then, after an hour flight, landing on a grass airstrip before taking a short ride to an island resort. This is Papatura.


Papatura is an island on the Isabel Province. It’s a popular destination for surfers, fishos and divers. The surfers prefer the warmer months when the swell is up and the fishos are all-year-round. Actually, there’s a good cross over here and many visitors to Papatura both fish, surf and dive.

The resort is located on a protected stretch of island with many options for a variety of species.

Strong wind is a reality in these parts and staying in an area that allows of safe and comfortable fishing in bad weather is a big plus! That was the case for our stay with strong Easterlies blowing daily. This ruled out heading too far offshore and the rain put a dampener on fishing the rivers for spot tail bass. Instead, we had a blast chasing all sorts of fish along the shallow reef edges, sand flats, and islands.

I was especially keen to check out the flats for bonefish. Finding “new” bonefish destinations is something that excites any saltwater fly fisho. I’ve caught bones in similar areas around the Pacific and was hoping they’d live on these flats. And from all reports, they are present, but not in big numbers. I tried and tried, and while I may have spotted one or two, they weren’t prolific. The search continues… I have no doubt there would be bigger numbers of bonefish in other areas in the Solomons.

The flats also held trigger fish and smaller trevally. The trevally would often grab a fly or lure as we searched the flats.

Nearby, the edges of the reefs on the outside of the islands were teeming with good fish.

I brought a couple of boxes of Halco lures, mostly Laser Pros, Maxs and Roosta Poppers. I also had a trusty Rapala X-Rap Magnum Cast. If nothing, else, bring these lures to the Solomons and you won’t be disappointed.

We slowly drifted and manoeuvred the boat along the reef edge while I cast along the drop-off. Every so often, we’d run into schools of Spaniards, while there were no shortage of trevally and red bass. The trick was wrestling them from the reef. Once clear of the reef, most of these fish played fair. The best areas were the points where the reef curled around into a quite bay or sand flat. Throwing casts into the wash and the drop-offs worked consistently and was loads of fun!

We also did a lot of trolling with the Halco Laser Pros and Maxs. Most for the same species were caught with some good size Spaniards, trevally and red bass, plus the odd coral trout. We also caught mack tuna. The trolling took place along the outside of the islands and around the bommies and channels between atolls. It’s a very productive method that produces any number of fish in these parts. Not everyone is into trolling, but the consistent hook-ups (and break offs), make it anything but boring! Plus, it’s a good way to cover water and search for spots. Often, we would troll until a school of bait was spotted or an area that looked like it deserved a few casts with a stickbait or popper. Lures such as the Halco Max can be trolled quite fast and are a great way of “maximising” your fishing time between spots.

Further outside, if the weather permits, there are several deeper water reefs where good size dogtooth and yellowfin tuna are regular caught, plus all of the usual suspects listed above.

While we couldn’t fish these deep water reefs, I wasn’t disappointed with the quality of fishing around the protected islands and inshore reefs. That to me, is the sign of a great destination.

The rivers around Papatura are also well-known for spot tail bass and mangrove jacks. You’ll also catch trevally up the rivers and the odd random species. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, an unseasonable downpour before our arrival made the rivers too muddy for spot tail and that will have to wait for another time.

Overall, I found Papatura to be a memorable place. The flight in over the islands, the laid back resort itself, and the fishing for a wide variety of species makes it a great destination. The guides are great and open for suggestions when it comes to moving spots or trying different techniques. They know the areas well and will find you fish.

Western Province

Our next stop was the Western Province and Zipolo Habu resort. This resort is owned by a keen fisho and expat American, Joe. Joe set ups the impressive resort on Lola Isand some years ago and quickly discovered the incredible fishing in the area. Fisho’s own Greg Finney has visited Zipolo Habu a couple of times and fished with Joe in the early days.

The weather hadn’t improved since leaving Papatura, in fact it got worse. And again, it didn’t stop us form experiencing some fantastic fishing around the islands and along the sheltered reef edges.

My “minder” from Solomons Tourism, Brenden, was keen at week’s end to return to home to Honiara with a cooler full of fish for his family and work colleagues and it didn’t take long to fill that cooler!

Our guide took us to a productive reef edge near the town of Gizo. There were several schools of baitfish working along the edges and the odd eruption as a predator made itself known. The baitfish were small tuna, a similar species to our frigate mackerel.

Casting poppers or stickballs across the bait schools and drop-offs brought results. The fish were mostly bluefin trevally and GTs. We also caught Spanish mackerel and were busted off by larger unknown species. Our guide said this area was known for big red bass and he was pretty excited by the prospect of catching one of these big bruisers.

After lunch at nearby Fat Boys Resort and a beer or two, we returned to our spot and continued fishing, landing several more nice trevally. As the rain intensified, the fishing only got better!

The next day I asked if we could fish a nearby river for mangrove jack. On the way, we fished some of the calm water lagoons for mackerel and bluefin trevally, This area is more populated with a few small communities dotted around the islands. Many of the locals fish from basic canoes using lines and nets. The good news is it doesn’t seem to affect the quality of fishing in the area. The population of fish is quite strong!

We had a great morning and spent the afternoon chasing jacks in the river with some success.

The last morning, like all last mornings, had perfect weather. The sun was out and the water was glassy smooth. The plan was to pack up the gear, ready for the flight home, and visit Skull Island, This popular cultural attraction is a small island with ancient skulls dating back to head hunting days. It’s a fascinating place and a must-see if you visit the Solomons.

Skull Island is just around the corner form Zipolo Habu and as chance would have it, a large school of trevally surfaced just a few hundred metres off the island and provided some red hot casting action as a final goodbye to a memorable week in the Solomons.

Visiting the Solomons is more than a fishing trip. I also enjoy the culture, the people, and the different food. It’s always worthwhile to stay a day extra to see some of the tourist sites. That, plus the outstanding fishing, is what makes places like the Solomons so interesting and unique compared with the fishing closer to home. 

Check out to plan your fishing adventure in the Solomon Islands.

Where to stay?


Papatura is a laid back resort with options for fishing, surfing, and diving… or all three! It’s a great place to bring the family and have them enjoy some of the activities around the island. There’s snorkeling in front of the resort, stand up paddle boarding, or even hiking through the lush rainforest at the back of the resort.

When I say resort, don’t expect room service, spas and on-demand movies. It’s an island resort and features semi-open rooms with mosquito nets. There are hot showers and everything is very tidy and clean. The hosts are very friendly and accommodating. You can choose to fish all day, or if you’re feeling lazy, fish half a day and spend the rest lazing about with a beer in hand. There are no tight schedules in these parts!

The food was outstanding! I’m amazed they could make such delicious food with the limited resources. Each day, locals show up at the resort ad sell fresh seafood and fruit and vegies. this combined with supplies coming in via water and air, makes for some fantastic fresh meals.

More info at

Zipolo Habu

Zipolo Habu is an established resort near Munda on the Western Province. Being close to Munda makes it a convenient location for reaching from Australia (see other Fact Box). It’s a short boat ride from the town and feels a million miles from anywhere.

Some of the rooms here are air conditioned and that was fantastic after a hot day on the boat. There’s a nice bar and restaurant and the food here is also very nice. There’s fresh seafood and plenty more. It’s a laid back place to enjoy a meal and drink after a day of fishing.

Zipolo Habu is on its own island and it’s also an interesting place to explore or bring the family for some non-fishing activities. 

More info at

Fat Boys

I didn’t stay at Fat Boys, but it was a great place to stop for lunch while fishing near Gizo. The food was fantastic and the bar and restaurant was in an ideal setting with snorkeling available around the resort. I checked out some rooms and they looked very nice and are ideal for anyone from couples and honeymooners to families. It’s set up more for divers but also has some fantastic fishing nearby.

More info at

Castaway Lagoon Resort

We stopped at Castaway while waiting for the flight home and had lunch. It’s literally across from Munda and the new international airport, making this a convenient location. While it’s so close to town, it’s far enough away to feel peaceful and laid back. The cabins are nice and spacious and the are around the island has some great fishing spots. Plus, they offer all of the activities scuh as Skull Island visits, snorkkeling etc.

Castaway is reasonably new and looks to be in an ideal position for growth as tourism in the Solomons grows.

More info at

Heritage Park Hotel, Honiara

Finally, if you need to stopover in Honiara, the Heritage Park is an ideal place to stay. It’s a fair drive from the airport, but a great escape from the busy streets of Honiara. There’s a nice restaurant, a bar, a gym, ATMs and the rooms are tidy and safe. Highly recommended.

More info at

Munda Airport

The town of Munda has a new airport with direct flights to and from Brisbane. The airport was almost complete when I visited and we checked out the building as we flew between Munda and Honiara. It would be a great option to fly to Munda direct from Brisbane and be fishing or checked into a beautiful resort minutes later.

Even if you’re not staying around Munda, there will be new domestic connections allowing fast travel between Munda and places such as Papatura.

NOTE: Since 6 January 2024 there has been a once weekly direct international flight by Solomon Airlines’ Airbus A320. This is ideal for travellers looking to connect to local resorts including Zipolo Habu and also linking through to Gizo and other provinces.

Check out and for more info and updates in flights to and from Australia and Munda.

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