Christmas Island Trip Report // June 13th, 2023
Christmas Island is Back In Action
As many of you know Christmas Island has been closed since March 2020. Finally after three long years of waiting and many false starts they started offering flights again this May. We were obviously excited to get back to Christmas Island as it is arguable one of the best saltwater destinations in the world. Incredible flats that you can wade for miles. The primary species being Bonefish, Giant Trevally and Triggerfish are abundant and ready to eat a fly.
As soon as the island reopened reports of eager big fish started reaching our ears and whetted our appetite to get back there. I was stoked that I was schedule to be there just about a month after it had opened, although to be honest I wasn't very confident we would get there, at least until the first couple flights had successfully landed. Then I knew we were good to go!
Day 0 // Airport Day
Most of us arrived the night before into Honolulu. A few guys in the group are from Hawaii and so they joined us at the airport the morning of. We were sure to get to the Fiji Airlines ticketing line early as it is notoriously slow and the security lines are long. The group of 16 anglers plus myself all got checked in and everyone eagerly awaited our scheduled departure.
We finally took off to Kiribati (Christmas Island) and had to calm our nerves for the 3 hour flight. It was hard to believe that we were actually there, especially as most of us had rescheduled this trip three times or more. After getting our fishing license ($50 or $60 AUD) at the airport, the Ikari House met us with trucks and vans to take us on the 30-45 minute ride to the lodge.
We had been warned that the fishing was excellent but the hospitality/food was still a little bit rough and that sure seemed to be the case. We got settled into our rooms and began to rig rods before dinner. It was clear that with just being open for a month the amenities were sparse but that was OK, we were there to fish!
Day 1 // On the Flats - Finally!
Breakfast was at 6:30 am and the boats departed at 7 am. We split up in the boats in groups of 4 and and one group of 5 and off we went. It was great to be off on the water and seeing the endless flats. The boat dropped Eric and I off and we began fishing, eager to see what the day had in store. Most of us were seeing fish right away (or at least the guides were, it usually takes me a day to start seeing the fish). Plenty of bones were caught in the morning and by the end of the day everyone had bonefish tales to tell. Some Triggers were caught as well.
After the first day of fishing there were lots of stories of successes and stories of the one that got away. Overall everyone agreed there were lots of fish around and they were uneducated. Did some more rigging, worked on some knots and got prepared for another day on the flats.
Day 2 // Flats
Tides for the week were low at the start of the day with high tide in the afternoon. Some of the guys went off in search of GTs and left their bonefish rod in the boat. Others continued the bonefish crusade and caught many. Mostly on Christmas Island Specials with small lead eyes or bead chain eyes. Lots of triggers were cast at and some were hooked, fewer were landed. But the Triggers provided lots of fun and great stories of broken hooks and flies lost in their coral holes. Some of the Triggers were caught using Christmas Island Specials, some were caught using crab patterns and others were caught on home tied "special" flies.
Day 3 // Blue Water
On the third day our boat went to the outside of the lagoon to target some blue water species. Tuna and Wahoo were what we were after, both for sport and for dinner. We trolled using gear rods that one of the guys brought. Didn't see a lot of birds crashing and once we got out beyond the wind break of the island the swells were very big. We turned back and started trolling back the other way, caught a small Blue Fin Trevally and then finally we saw some birds crashing. Once we got near those crashing birds we finally hooked into a beautiful Yellowfin Tuna and we knew we had secured some fresh sashimi and tuna for dinner! It was about lunch time and we weren't too far from the lodge so we decided to stop back by the lodge, switch out our gear for the second half of the day and head out on the flats.
We headed out onto the flats and the tide was coming up so they ended up taking us pretty far back into the lagoon. The boatman dropped us off and after just a short walk we paused and set up on a coral edged lagoon that looked like it could hold a GT. Eric made a couple casts, and hooked a Blue Fin Trevally. As he was bringing in the Blue Fin to unhook it a GT came in and tried to eat it. After a couple of attempts the GT swam around Eric and I made a short cast and hooked up with my first and only GT of the trip. That sucker pulled me way into my backing and I was thankful that I was in a good place to land it without any huge obstacles in my way. We saw and threw at another GT that was cruising that afternoon and finished the day landing some Bonefish. What a fun day with some variety!
Day 4 // Boat Down
Well we had 4 boats to start the week with 4 boat motors that ran reasonably well, with some minor issues. On the way back to the lodge the night before one of the motors dropped off of the transom and nearly fell into the ocean. Obviously saltwater and internal combustion motors are no bueno. So one of the groups took off in a truck for the day of fishing. They took the truck on about an hour ride and accessed some of the inner lagoon after a walk. They had fantastic fishing and lots of bones, although none of them were super tankers.
Everyone else went out on the boats and everyone had a great day. Some more GTs were caught and plenty of Bonefish. By this point in the trip everyone was seeing fish pretty darn well and had their casting figured out. These are long days on the flats, walking anywhere from 4-8 miles a day out in the sun. So nobody was quite as rowdy in the evenings after dinner, but everyone was having a great time!
Winston with a beautiful GT
A cute little Picasso Triggerfish
Day 5 // Korean Wreck
The boat motor was still out of commission so my group elected to take the truck all the way around the outside of the island to the area known as the Korean Wreck (there is no actual wreck anymore). It was a bit of a truck ride, almost 2 hours, but we left early as to still get some good fishing time in. The road was rough for the first 30 minutes or so, but after that the road was in great shape as we traveled through bird nesting grounds and an old WWII airstrip. We finally arrived to our destination and started fishing.
Bob with a Wrasse
They dropped off Eric and I and we had about 100-150 yard stretch of coral flat in-between the beach and where the waves were breaking. It was probably my favorite day of saltwater fishing ever... yes. It was incredible. We waded along and in-between the breakers and the sand catching an astonishing amount of fish and a huge variety. Saw some absolutely monstrous Bonefish, although I don't know that we landed any of those ones. We waded the beach for about 2 miles and we met back up with the guides and other anglers for lunch. After lunch they dropped us off again and within minutes of arriving at the beach Eric had hooked and landed his first GT of the trip.
Overall yes the drive is long but if you have the opportunity to get out to the Korean Wreck it is an incredible experience and a great way to try something different during your week at Christmas Island.
Day 6 // Last Day
The boat motor was working again so everyone headed out onto the flats for the last day of fishing. Most everyone had an itch for some GT's and maybe some bonefish if nothing else was happening. This was probably Eric and I's slowest morning of fishing except for a nice GT that Eric landed first thing in the morning.
Caught some more bones and triggers in the afternoon, before the rain squall came down on us. We spent the last hour of fishing, trying to get every last cast in as it was our last day, blind casting for GTs. Nothing.
Day 7 // Travel Day
On the last day you have to wake up for a 4 am departure to the airport. Hurry up and wait. We loaded up and made it to the airport to wait in a long long. They had to manually inspect our luggage and did that by hand. After that you checked into your flight and went through "security" which was also done with a pat down and manually going through your bag. It felt overly thorough but really wasn't a big deal. We all sat and told stories in the terminal until the Fiji flight arrived and unloaded their passengers from Fiji and we loaded onto the airplane.
It has been a week since I got home, time spent catching up at work and with the family. Reminiscing of the trip to Christmas Island with a wonderful group of guys. Man we had a great trip!
It is hard to have a bad day wading on the endless flats of Christmas Island. The scenery is fantastic and the fishing was incredible. So many fish on the flats and so inexperienced to the fly. Caught lots of fish, like a lot of fish. It was a wonder that you could make a 5-10 foot cast and successfully hook and land a Bonefish. The food was adequate but not great, bring snacks. There was bottled water and Sprite, no Coke. We ran out of beer and coffee one day, but the fishing was so good that all the rest of that was a minor nuisance.
For a serious angler this place is a must visit. It is reasonably priced, the fishing days are long and the fish are ready to take a fly. Most of the guys on this trip have fished and traveled all over the world and overwhelmly said they would return to Christmas Island for the above reasons. Christmas Island is also a great designation for a first time saltwater angler, one young man on this trip had limited fly fishing experience going into the trip but was determined and strong willed. By the end of the trip he was hammering the Bonefish with confidence! If you are looking for a beautiful resort with good food and cold drinks served to you, this is not the place. If you like fishing hard and catching lots of fish I would strongly consider putting Christmas Island on your list.
I am fortunate enough to work at the fly shop and have demo rods at my disposal so I used a variety of rods and they all performed great on the trip
- 8 weight for Bonefish - T&T Sextant and Winston Air Salt
- 8 weight reel - Sage reel and Tibor Everglades w/ SA Grand Slam
- 11 weight for GT - Sage R8 Salt
- 11 weight reel - Abel Rove Underwood GT Engraving w/ SA Tropical Titan
- 12 weight for GT - G Loomis Asquith
- 12 weight reel - Hatch Iconic w/ RIO GT Line
- Christmas Island Specials - like a lot of these ranging from size 2 to size 6. Some with lead eyes and some with bead chain eyes. Orange and pink are the favorites. I also like some size 4 or 6 with bead chain eyes
- Gotcha flies for Bonefish
- Black Brushy flies for GT
- Gym Sock for GT
- Airhead for GT
- Pole Dancer for GT
- Trigger Crab for Triggers
- Grab Crab for Triggers
I work in the fly shop and of course I am a gear head. I love gear, so I could go on forever but I will try and keep this short. Bring a lightweight bonefish rod because you will be using it a lot. Have flies in your bag that you can easily access and make sure they are organized. It sucks fumbling about when you have bonefish in sight that you should be casting at. Learn how to tie your own knots for this reason as well.
As for clothing it seems easy, but the wrong clothes can ruin a trip. Whether that is a mean sunburn on the first day or some serious chafing from walking around in wet cotton shorts all day. Synthetic is a must. Pick you favorite brand of synthetic boxers, wear quick dry pants and a sun shirt. Some guys are starting to wear shorts with tights or leggings and that works good too. I really prefer a sun shirt with a hood to keep your ears and neck covered, and I feel that the hoody keeps me cooler by keeping the sun off my head. Otherwise a non hooded shirt with a buff works good too. The bonus of a button down shirt is you have pockets to keep a few essentials close.
I have tried a variety of boots and sock combos. Hands down the Simms Flats Sneaker with neoprene Guard socks are the most comfortable. This combo seems to keep nearly all of the sand and coral out of your boot or around your foot. Otherwise you would inevitably end up with ankles rubbed raw by sand or blisters. I like to bring flip flops in the boat and take off my boots during lunch just to let my feet get dried out and stretch a bit.
A sling pack is the easiest to access and keep essentials in for a day. On this trip I wore a backpack and the one benefit of that is you can tuck a rod into the straps to carry a spare rod. I really recommend a Yeti water bottle or something similar because some cold water tastes really good after you've been in the sun all day.