Fishing International's Christmas Island specialist, Jason Leopold, recently returned from leading a group to the island. Here is his report:
Since I first started fly fishing I have heard stories of the endless flats and many bonefish on Christmas Island, so when the chance came to host a group to our newest lodge, The Villages, I jumped at the opportunity. As our flight descended to the island I was impressed by the size of this place. I knew it was the biggest coral atoll in the world, but I didn't really know what to expect from that description - I had pictured it smaller.
After a short trip through customs (at the smallest airport I have ever seen) the head guide for the Villages, Teannaki, loaded us up in a truck and we headed to the lodge. The drive took us through miles of tropical vegetation and friendly waving locals. Twenty minutes later we were there. The Lodge consists of two duplex bungalows and a big main bungalow with a dining room and meeting area. Each room has a private bath, hot water, and air conditioner. It's located on the lagoon side not far from the town of London. This is very convenient because the boats pick you up on the beach right in front of the lodge, eliminating the truck rides to and from the dock. Some of the flats are just ten minutes away by boat.
After unpacking, we all met at the main bungalow for appetizers and to discuss the weeks fishing with Teannaki. We went over tackle, flies, and how to rig them. I think this is one of my favorite parts of any trip. We all rigged two outfits. A 7 or 8 weight with a floating line for bones and a 10 or 12 for trevally.
With a combination of excitement and the time change I was up the next morning at 3:30. The problem was we wouldn't be leaving for fishing until 7:00, so I patiently waited. The guides were there early and loaded our gear and lunches aboard the outrigger boats. They would put four anglers per boat and two guides, so two people share a guide (It's possible to get a personal guide for the cost of $60 per day). We eagerly hopped aboard the boats and headed for our first day of fishing.
With unusual high winds and cloudy skies, the conditions were tough. Even with the low visibility the guides had no problem spotting the fish. I on the other hand, couldn't see a thing the first day. So when the guide would say "bone at ten o'clock forty feet!" I had to trust him and just blind cast. To my surprise once and a while the line would take off and the reel would start screaming.
By the second day spotting the fish became much easier, making it so much fun. Watching a bonefish follow your fly and then pounce on it like a cat on a mouse is one of the best things in fly fishing. Most of the guys caught between 5 and 15 bones a day. Slow for Christmas Island, but still pretty good. A few of us had some better days including a near fifty fish day by group member Bob Jones.
Most of the bones were between two and four pounds. Saw lots of bigger ones and we hooked a few. The biggest bone of the trip was about 28 inches and looked to be about eight pounds, caught by Hillary Tessier. Everyone caught some trevally,as well. The small ones (2-15 lbs) would take a bonefish fly stripped fast while the larger ones preferred big streamers and poppers. Some of the group went out on the ocean side and cast huge poppers with spinning rods. They had a great time hooking Giant Trevally that proceeded to wear them out. They also went out a little further and battled tuna and wahoo.
We all thought the fishing was great, but wondered how good it could of been with better weather.