FLY FISHING CHRISTMAS ISLAND
Christmas Island is the world’s largest coral atoll and a virtual paradise for stalking bonefish. Having almost single-handedly brought the sport of fly-fishing for bonefish into the public consciousness, Christmas Island remains one of the best destinations in the world for both beginning and advanced saltwater anglers alike. The reasons for this are many. First, the Island’s vast hard sand flats enable anglers to wade fish all day in relative solitude. Second, the flats hold great numbers of bonefish that cruise in shallow water, providing anglers with constant opportunities or “shots” throughout their visit. And last, but certainly not least, the atoll’s proximity to the equator (less than 200 miles) has blessed Christmas Island with consistently good weather, which enables a quality fishing experience year round. While the majority of the island’s bonefish average 2-4 pounds, fish in the 5-10 pound class are always a real possibility as are several species of trevally.
Christmas Island Outfitters head guide is Peter "Biita" Kairaio. Peter is recognized as one of the Island’s top guides and he will be joined by a small group of hand-picked professionals who are amongst the islands most skilled and personable fly fishing guides. All have excellent eyes for spotting fish, calm temperaments under the pressure of sight fishing and are skilled instructors. By design, Christmas Island Bonefish Club has limited its program to no more than eight anglers per week. As a result the lodge boasts a highly flexible flats fishing program that can take full advantage of varying tides and fishing conditions. Each evening Peter will lead a discussion on the program for the following day’s fishing based on the conditions at hand. It is likely that your departure time from the lodge will vary each morning according to the tides and where you will be fishing.
Transportation to and from the vast flats of Christmas Island is via truck and outrigger. Both are equipped with bench seats, canopies, and rod holders. During 6 day fishing week each angler will reach the flats 2 days by truck and 4 days by outrigger. When the lodge is full the group is divided and alternate days on the truck and outrigger.
Without a doubt, the main attractions on the flats of Christmas Island are bonefish. These metallic drone warriors set out across the flats in all directions scouring the coral and hard sand bottoms for crustaceans, shrimps, crabs and worms. Indeed the most special aspect of this fishery is that 100% of the fishing is accomplished on foot. There’s nothing like stalking the flats in full predator mode and hunting them down with your rod at the ready. Whether it’s your very first bonefish or your thousandth, it’s always a thrill to present your fly to a hungry bonefish, watch him speed over to investigate, engulf your offering, and zip out 100 feet of backing in a flash. Additionally, the beauty of the Christmas Island bonefish experience is that these scenarios unfold at close range. Rarely are you asked to make a cast longer than 40 feet. Moreover, the most experienced Christmas Island anglers catch fish all day long by gently walking the flats and laying out precision rolls casts of no more than 20 feet.
Christmas Island Guides
The guide crew at Christmas Island outfitters remain some of the most experienced, pleasurable, and skilled saltwater flats guides found anywhere in the world. Guides often spot fish at 80 to 100 feet out and move you in a general direction to intercept. It’s helpful to keep your eyes on the water close to you (40 feet and in) and let them worry about the distant fish. At the right moment and once they are in range you’ll hear them whisper, “Two fish moving left to right, 10 o’clock, 40 feet. Land it softly and strip slow...” The first step is to get the fly gently down on the water without spooking the fish. Once the fly is down it’s a good idea to give it a good long strip to make sure everything is straight and your leader is tight to the fly. After this step hopefully the fly is in a place where they will see it. If not, the fly is stripped to a point where the fish will intercept it or simply leave it in place while the fish approaches. Some of the guides will actually mimic the stripping motion with their hands, giving you a play-by-play description and also a visual cue for the right speed and length of the strip. Greedy bonefish often zoom over on the first or second pull to check out the prospects of an easy meal. Most times they’ll eat your fly and be off to the races without question. Other times, they’ll stop short and puff their fins out to the side like a curious Labrador trying to figure out where you’ve hidden its tennis ball. As they tip up on their noses, peering in to the sand to see what might be trying to get away your guide will help you tease them in to eating. At the exact right moment you’ll hear him say, “Strip… Slow… Wait…. Strip! Wait…. You got him!” As your reel screams and the bonefish accelerates to 35 miles per hour, it’s not uncommon to find yourself grinning with the sound of your heart still pounding in your ears.
Few things will prepare you for the sight of a 60 pound giant trevally smashing mullet on a shallow flat with a full 12 inches of its back protruding from the water. Seeing them on the hunt is a sight that will be forever burned in to your fishing consciousness. It seems impossible that a fish so large and powerful can turn on a dime to chase baitfish in concentric circles at 30 plus miles per hour. To catch one while stalking the flats requires a mix of skill, perseverance and a lot of good luck. At times anglers with a bad GT habit will specifically hike the flats for a week or more, letting hundreds of bonefish pass them by, all for a once in a lifetime shot at hooking and landing a true monster on foot. Similar to targeting permit, anglers that dedicate themselves solely to GT’s stand the best chance at landing a big fish during a weeklong trip. It’s hard to imagine bypassing all of the other various species that Christmas Island has to offer in the pursuit of one single magnificent fish. But for the select few that do make the commitment, the rewards can be amazing and the accomplishment can be well worth it.