CHRISTMAS ISLAND ~ Kiritimati ~ is located approximately 1,200 miles south of Hawaii and is considered to be one of the world’s largest pristine atoll. Even today this unspoiled fishery is still a ‘top of list’ destination for many fly anglers. It was definitely a bucket list trip for me to pursue monster Bonefish, Giant Trevally and Triggerfish (left) on the flats.
Just a short skiff ride through turquoise-blue waters of the lagoon and your ideally located over reefs where you can use fly or light convention tackle to chase Tuna and other species, including Sailfish, Milkfish, Barracuda and of course… Wahoo!
“Strip, strip, faster, faster, stop… strip, strip, okay!” These famous guide words are forever embedded in my fly fishing psyche.
My opportunity to fish Christmas Island came early this March 2016. Hosted by Ryan Heitz of Michael & Young Fly Shop with accommodations at The Villages. Opened since June 2006, The Villages air-conditioned bungalows are beautifully nestled on white sands of Discovery Beach, they are also the only resort on the island that offers one-to-one guide service. It’s South Seas atmosphere and locally flavoured fish, meats and fresh fruit are prepared by an experienced local chef, and served by talented and trained staff. I particular enjoyed the healthy eating and found it an advantage staying here as versatile South Pacific style skiffs are moored just steps from your bungalow.
The memory of this amazing trip exceeded my expectations of chasing the perfect sportfish. I learned so much from the guides about fishing flats and bonefish behaviour. It’s really inspired a lot of my 2016 – 2017 fly creations.
The well-organized M&Y Fly group have got this trip down to a science and have been going annually since 2011. This was a full-on 6 days of non-stop venturing from an early dawn breakfast to dusk gatherings in the comfortable lounges of the ‘maneaba’. You’re wading a variety of flats from 6 inches to 3 feet deep and if you’re short, like me, sometimes in chest high water chasing the illusive monster Bonefish and Giant Trevally.
My daily experience varied from two dozen fish days to a whopping 40 plus bones averaging in the 3 – 5 pound range with biggest at just over 8 pounds. Though I am well-seasoned fly tyer, I am a novice when chasing the ‘grey ghost’ and only had one other experience DIY fishing for bones in Belize several years ago. You learn quickly the first day about the do’s and don’ts of stalking your prey and it’s easy to get excited that you forget to keep your rod tip down and not to ‘trout set’!
The Island featured plenty of teaming non-pressured bones to entice and during a feeding cycle, you could not only hook them on dry flies, they would literally chase your fly right to your rod tip. As Bonefish are freakishly strong and will take you into backing on their first run, I’d recommend a good sealed salt water reel. 7 – 8 weight rods are ideal, but lighter weights are not uncommon. A complete gear list along with helpful tips and Itinerary is provided by your host.
Fly patterns… Gotchas, Charlies and crab patterns all have their place in the lagoon, but the resident guides top choice is Christmas Island Specials in 3 sizes with varying weights. If you’re a complete novice… you can use this one fly every day the whole week and still be easily in the double digits, but that would get mundane. I found the really larger bones were easily spooked, especially when the sun was high, and off the feed. I found myself experimenting with other flies by the second day which probably led to my high numbers by the end of the week. For me, hands down, I found the Greg’s Flat Fly and Vereka Mantis great producers for enticing weary bones when all CI specials wore out its appeal. You hook a lot of bones using flies in size 8 – 10, but you’re also hooking smaller fish and having to fend off other predators, such as juvenile Milkfish and Golden. Deep water bones called for big flies, size 2 – 4, so don’t be intimidated by this size. There were daily opportunities to cast to GTs and when bones were not visible I found blind casting along drops off and deep water very productive.
Here’s my modern version of the ever so popular Gotcha, it was definitely my go to fly when wading deep for the monsta Bones!
- Hook: 2 – 8 TMC 811s or any saltwater equivalent.
- Thread: Danvilles 6/0 orange or Ultra 70 thread.
- Tail: Flat pearl diamond braid or color to suite.
- Body: Lagartun flatbraid/pearl or pink.
- Eyes: Double pupil dumbbell eyes or gold hour glass or bead chain.
- Wing: Tan or yellow Krystal flash under tan craft fur, pseudo hair or Ep fibre.
- Legs: (optional) Nymph barred silly legs or crusher legs – color to suit.
I’d recommended this trip to anyone from seasoned anglers to the shy novice. The guide service is rivaled by no other on the island. The Village guides boast of their longest fishing times per day of any other lodge and will cater to your every fishing need from carrying your GT Rod, extra gear to your Go Pro.
The next annual trip is March 7th to 15th 2017. Hosted by Dave O’Brien. For more information and details please contact the shop.
Michael & Young Fly Shop
1.604.588.2833 or toll free 1.800.663.6407
Joining this trip?
Please sign up for our Christmas Island Fly Tying Workshop on Saturday, January 14th 2017.
For your custom saltwater flies, please contact…
The Fly Box