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Author: Subject: Ray and Glenn’s Excellent Christmas Island Adventure
okiplug
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[*] posted on 9/11/12 at 12:13 Reply With Quote
Ray and Glenn’s Excellent Christmas Island Adventure



We just spent an unbelievable week on Kiritimati (Christmas Island) pursuing bonefish, bluefin and giant trevally (and some not so giant), milkfish, and sweetlips, as well as anything else that would eat our flies.

Our trip began on Monday October 29th with a flight from LAX to Honolulu where we would overnight at the Ohana Outrigger Hotel so that we could catch our Tuesday flight out to Christmas Island. A single flight to and from Christmas Island occurs weekly only on Tuesdays. With no following flight, I was slightly concerned about my gear duffle making it there but it was all for naught as everything was handled perfectly by the Air Pacific crew. We left Honolulu at noon on Tuesday and 3 hours later flight found us within sight of the south eastern end of the island as viewed from the port side. This stretch of coastline is somewhat windward and includes the famous narrow reef flats of Korean Wreck.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/1-Aerial.jpg

A brief wait through Customs / Immigration and purchasing of our fishing licenses and we were soon aboard the shuttle bus to the Villages, our home for the next week.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/2-Bus.jpg

With the highest elevation of only 9’ feet, the island is composed of a surrounding coral atoll with native low lying plants and large groves of coconut trees near the more western areas where four communities exist. We were told that the current population on Kiritimati is about 4,000. This island is one within the country of Kirabati. Some mat recognize the largest Tarawa. Resident living quarters are very basic and in some cases appear to be former barracks perhaps used by the British duing their occupation.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/3-Localbuildings.jpg

Intimate in size, The Villages is capable of accommodating 12 guests. It is composed of (6) air-conditioned units, each with its own private bathroom, organized around a central maneaba (meeting center) and dining room-kitchen building. We would gather under the maneaba to chat about the days fishing while savoring daily fresh yellowfin tuna or wahoo sashimi and mango slices. Wow! Placement of windows in the units received the prevailing breezes perfectly, while small refrigerators held ice cold bottled water, beer, and soda. With only well water on tap, we were directed to only drink bottled water. Having brought way too much stuff, we were pleased that the room was more than sufficient in size.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/4-Roomphoto.jpg

The staff were just terrific; warm, friendly, and skilled. We enjoyed every meal which typically included a choice of fish or chicken, complemented with local spices. We even had lobster on a couple of nights. The fried rice was to die for.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/5-Stafffood.jpg

Scheduled around the full moon, our first three days for fishing were scheduled to coincide with the bonefish spawn at Paris Flats, about a 45 minute run from The Villages. This is important to note as we were able to be the first anglers there every morning. The Villages is built right on a beach front which is key. While other operations have to drive to a launch ramp before departing, we would simply make the 150’ walk down to the beach after breakfast and be off.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/6-boatcommuting.jpg

As it turns out, Ray and I were two of only five anglers that were there that week as four Aussies apparently missed their flight. We had a great time with the others; John from Alaska and CC and Dave from Florida. Ray, or course, had us all laughing with his seemingly endless supply of jokes, observations, and anecdotes.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/7-John.jpg

Aside from the occasional cloud passing overhead, we were blessed with traditional breezy clear weather. Air temps were in the mid-80’s and the water hovering a bit below that. Not one to usually wear a buff and hat, I found them absolutely necessary given the unrelenting sun from above and the complementary glare off the water. A long sleeve quick-dry shirt and pants anchored by Patagonia Marlwalkers was the uniform of the day.

Our first day fishing found us up at 3:30 well ahead of the 4:45 call for breakfast. Ansty doesn't even begin to describe how we felt! The guides and trainees would load our rods in the overhead racks on the punt while we enjoyed bacon, eggs, toast, pancakes, juice, and coffee. That left little to do but grab our wading baskets, waist packs, and boat bags, and head down for our 5:30 departure. This would be our routine for the next three days as we pursued schools of spawning bones during the full moon. Amazingly stable in the choppy seas, our shuttle boat’s ride was always enjoyable and would coincide with some terrific sunrises.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/8-RaySunrise.jpg

Located directly adjacent to the southern portion of the mouth of the lagoon that opens to the ocean, Paris Flats is composed of a large sandy flat with a distinct drop-off. We were distributed evenly along this one mile stretch so as to advantage of the bonefish groups that were cruising along the edge sometimes within casting distance. Oftentimes we would see them just beyond casting distance hoping they would venture in as the tide dropped. On occasion they would, and you would hear a holler and a screaming drag and peer to your right or left as someone hooked up. Here’s Ray with a good one that just smoked him.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/9-Raybone.jpg

In the deeper water, a #4 orange Christmas Island Special with medium eyes worked well and accounted for my biggest of the trip, a fat fish that taped at 28”. Because of its girth, my guide-in-training Ian, guessed it at 9 pounds. Didn’t really matter to me as I was stoked. What a fight! The first blazing run was well past the 100 yard section of 30# dacron and into the following backing spectra section a good portion. Three runs later we landed this beast of a bone. Just perfect proportions and chrome silver. At 3-6 pounds, the average sized fish here was considerably larger than those on the interior flats. Regardless of where caught, these fish were all hard fighting and into the backing FAST.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/10-IanBigFish.jpg

A quick mention about the guides and trainees. For every two anglers you are assigned one guide and one trainee. The guide goes with one angler and the trainee with the other. After lunch we would switch over. We would always go in separate directions to cover more water. We never saw another angler the entire time unless from our lodge. We fished with guides with over 30 years of experience and trainees with a little over one season. They were all great at spotting fish, and perhaps more importantly patient and understanding given my propensity for spooking fish with inaccurate casting.

A little bit about the tackle. As we scanned the flats for bones, the angler would be set up with his bonefish rod (usually an 8 or 9 wt) while the guide / trainee carried a heavier GT class outfit. We would occasionally work the deeper edges where GT’s and bluefin trevally would roam looking to ambush smaller fish. Some of the GT’s we saw were in the 40-50 pound class and would appear out of nowhere and be gone just as fast before the rod handoff would occur. WE all had shots but no one in our group connected. We met a group from Calgary at the airport and they targetted GT's exclusively while staying with Christmas Island Outfitters. Their biggest was 60 pounds with most anglers chucking 12 weights.

I used an 8 weight set up on the inside flats and 9 weight on the ocean side flats, for an 11 weight for the GT’s. A 6 wt was usde one day on the inside and was a blast on smaller 3 pound average fish. Reels were all Galvan Torques, rods all G. Loomis GLX’s. Fly lines for the bones were SA Bonefish or Wulff Bermuda Triangle Taper while an SA Tarpon line was used on the GT outfit. Leaders were all handmade from Izorline XXX tipped with Seaguar fluorocarbon. We were throwing directly into the wind half the time so the stiffer leaders really helped turn the fly over.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/11A-gear.jpg

The bonefish flies varied depending on location. On the inside lagoon flats, a very sparsely tied Gotcha-like pattern in pearl or orange worked well. When I say sparse, I mean VERY sparse. Small or medium brass eyes, a tail of 6 strands of Krystal Flash, body braid on the shank and another 6 strands of Krystal Flash for the wing is all that was needed. With guidance from the Fishermen’s Spot, Ray had tied up some that were just killer. By comparison, mine were too gaudy for the inside but worked great at Paris Flats and the Korean Wreck. My first afternoon session on the “inside” would see bones rushing up to my ties, then heading for the next flat. It only took an evening of snipping and I was back in the game. Of course, I borrowed some of Rays too! I think he tied some patterns using SF Blend as well.

While hunting bones we would stumble across giant trevally and their smaller yet more abundant cousins the bluefin trevally. The giant trevally came in black or white versions when they reached true GT proportions. They would typically come blazing in along a deeper flat edge looking to ambush the smaller milkfish and be gone just as fast. We never hooked a big one but were able to land numerous smaller hard-tugging versions. With its under slung jaw the white trevally looked tough, while its electric blue relative stunning with fluorescent fins and spots.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/11-GT.jpg

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/12-bluetrevally.jpg

These guys were killer on a 9 wt and of course we lost a few to breakoffs when stalking them around deeper flats with coral heads. These areas were just loaded with yellow butterflyfish, emerald green surgeon and parrot fish, various triggerfish, two kinds of puffers, and the porcupinefish. Ray hooked a few triggers but could never drive the hook past their bad set of dentures.
http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/13-coralhead.jpg

Here is a borrowed photo of the kind of triggerfish we cast to as they gently tailed near piles of coral-encrusted rock. Simply beautiful.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/14-triggerfish.jpg

Our commute vehicle throughout the trip was a handcrafted outriggered punt powered by a Yamaha outboard. The ride for the most part was very dry and comfortable. Overhead rod racks and underseat gear storage kept everything safe.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/15-boat.jpg

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/16-boat.jpg

The flats that we fished varied from those near little cays populated by nesting frigates and boobies to those that were surrounded completely by deeper channels.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/17-frigate.jpg

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/18-flat.jpg

It was rare to venture more than a hundred yards before seeing some kind of life. I noticed that when you found puffers and milkfish there was likely to be bonefish.

Some of the more southwesterly flats featured an scorched-looking asphaltic-like surface that was jagged, hard, and irregular. In areas where it met the water’s edge it would create a cantilevered condition providing cover for hundreds of little snappers.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/19-flat.jpg

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/20-snapper.jpg

Our last day was spent at the Korean Wreck. An hour and a half ride to the southeastern end of the atoll, we made a small detour to ground zero which I did not know existed. A sobering history lesson conducted by our main guide Tennaki revealed an insestive wrath imposed on this wonderful land and people. We were told that over 25 hydrogen bombs were exploded both above and adjacent to Christmas Island without mandatory evacuation. Some of the explosive devices were suspended from cables attached to large steel anchors then detonated thousands of feet above land. Birth defects occurred among the locals with night time detonation seen as far away as the Solomon Islands. Very disturbing.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/21-groundzero.jpg

Once at the Korean Wreck, we found the area white capping and surf pumping hard on the reef’s edge as we patrolled the narrow beachside flat, seeking anything that would eat a fly. A few more bones and trevally made for a fun filled day of sunshine, scenery, and camaraderie.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/22-koreanwreck.jpg

The day ended with a great buffet of local dishes of rice, octopus, clams, salads, lobster, fish, and chicken complemented by an evening of entertainment culminated by series of wonderful dances by a beautiful young lady.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/23-dancer.jpg

Though I’ve tried, I do not have words that can express the kind of gratitude I have for the people of Christmas Island. I have not met a more gracious, thoughtful, and hard-working people. With warm smiles and a helping hand, we always felt like we belonged there. We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience their home and its stunning sunrises, exotic plants, and resident life.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/24-sunrise.jpg

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/25-plant.jpg

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/26-crab.jpg

Though it was the fly fishing that led us there, it is the beautiful people of Christmas Island that we will remember most. We hope to visit again soon.

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/27-girls.jpg

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss117/livetoofish/28-guides.jpg

Please enjoy,

Glenn
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[*] posted on 9/11/12 at 12:59 Reply With Quote


Hi Glenn,
Great report! Christmas Island wasn't on my list of places to go. Now it’s near the top!
Thanks for sharing.
Best,
Matt
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[*] posted on 9/11/12 at 13:20 Reply With Quote


Glenn,
Awesome....thanks for sharing!

Keith M.
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[*] posted on 9/11/12 at 15:02 Reply With Quote


What a great trip and excellent write-up. Thanks for sharing it with us.



Life is good. Eternal life is better!

Richard
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[*] posted on 9/11/12 at 16:40 Reply With Quote


Glenn,

I was thinking about you and Ray last week and though I don't use the word "envious" very often, I have made the exception after reading your post. In my opinion, it ranks as one of the best posts to grace the Fliflicker board. Sure Christmas Island is not like fishing bonefish in SD Bay, The Wall or our other OC secret spot, but it still looked like a pretty fun trip. I'm stoked for you and Ray.

Thanks for taking the time to put this post together. Amazing!

Dave
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[*] posted on 9/11/12 at 18:10 Reply With Quote


I visited CI back in the early 80's when the price was real cheap and the accommodations weren't the greatest. Looks like I might have to take another trip to the Villages.
Kay Mitsuyoushi from Fishabout helped start "the villages" I had a chance to take a trip but passed on it. Kay passed away and I never thought about it again. But it looks like the guides could use some new Fishabout hats. I have a ton of them
Maybe next year

Jay
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[*] posted on 9/11/12 at 20:17 Reply With Quote


Glenn,

Wow, wow, wow, wow .... and on and on. A most excellent post - photos and narrative. Thank you so much for sharing.

- Kevin
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[*] posted on 10/11/12 at 09:27 Reply With Quote


Glenn,

What a great report; I felt like I was right there along with you guys. Your pictures were great and I can tell that even though the fishing was the focus, your trip turned out to be about more than just the fish. Thanks for putting together the journey.

Tod
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[*] posted on 10/11/12 at 12:09 Reply With Quote


Awesome report thanks for sharing. I really liked how your pics not only showed really great fishing but also showed the cultural and all around experience of the adventure.

Hopefully when I grow up I can make it out there. Looks awesome.

Adam




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[*] posted on 10/11/12 at 15:06 Reply With Quote


That is one GREAT POST!

Thanks....
Mark F.
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[*] posted on 14/11/12 at 11:36 Reply With Quote


Way beyond fabulous Glenn! The island has long been on my 'must fish before I die" list - maybe when I turn "60" in a couple of years, before I'm too old to handle two weeks on a tropical island with beautiful South Pacific girls! As it is now, I get the "once over from just about every girl that goes by; they look at me once, and it's over! :)

Kim Z.
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[*] posted on 14/11/12 at 13:34 Reply With Quote


Quote:
As it is now, I get the "once over from just about every girl that goes by; they look at me once, and it's over! :)

Kim Z.


Too funny Kim! I'll say this, one had better like walking and be in reasonable shape because those guides will leave you in their "flats" dust. I'll be hitting the stadium bleachers before we go back.

Glenn
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