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Christmas Island Prep

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PhillyPhisher

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Good that Reds highlighted this Guide hierarchy BS. This is one reason why these lodges hold little appeal for me. The business should be customer focussed not guide,that is dissengeneousl and every customer should get the same level of service. You are all paying the same money. It is very easy to get wheeled and dealed and not even be aware of it. When  Reds asked and were told no for myself that would have lit the blue touch paper for an explosive conversation. But once there you are trapped. I have had personal experience of this kind of BS on a trip for Nile Perch where one famous named Angler got the best of everything. They must think we are blind and stupid. I never returned..  Not my cup of tea going on an escorted trip but Reds know the game now and if they can fill the lodge they can control the situation better and the allocation of the guides. If you go as an individual then it looks like you are more vulnerable to poor practice.

 

Mike

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/11/2023 at 6:37 PM, theshadow said:

A good friend took a trip to western Australia recently. He said,with all the "in the air" time.Noise cancelling headphones saved the trip. Just a thought.

 

I've done that trip. 17 hours non-stop. Then the 1.5 hour flight to Exmouth. It was brutal. I can't say noise cancellation made much difference.

But I'd do it again tomorrow for the fishing. 

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I have been there 6X.  BUT.....the last trip was over 25 years ago and my understanding is that a lot has changed since then.

 

It slowly occurred to me that I actually have a (very old) section of destination pictures and text from those "old days" on my old website.  the pictures are small because THAT WAS THE MAX SIZE OF COMPUTER MONITOR SCREENS WHEN I FIRST PUT THIS SITE ON THE "NEW" WEB!'

 

http://www.flyfishingfotography.com/chistmasisland_new_001.htm

 

Since then rumor has it....the fishing further deteriorated until the government realized they were killing the cash cow (fishing tourism on Xmas Isl) that was supplying > 50% of the revenue for the whole country back then....and the indescriminate netting by the population was limited or stopped altogether in enough of the lagoon that the fishing rebounded and became good again.  And, instead of the single, gov. owned residence/lodge (Captain Cook Hotel), at least 2 independent outfits began hosting and guiding fishermen.  I would guess more than that now.   And, I suspect, the boats used have been upgraded.  Between the outer reef and the enormous (world's largest atoll) lagoon, there is sure room for them....as long as the killing is restricted.

 

I have too many Xmas Isl, stories to tell.  But some thoughts: 

 

1) do NOT drag a huge chicken-like assemblage of feathers with a hook in it tied directly to your flyline behind the boat when leaving the dock with your group to go fishing in the morning because A) you may lose part or all of your flyline in a coral head (Giant Trevally) and B) you'll never get anywhere (lots of Giant Trevally).  Ask me how I know.

 

2) do NOT be stupid enough to expose yourself to the sun at that longitude on the first day and be bed-ridden for the rest of the week....unable to fish.....as I saw one gentleman (who also qualified for time in an alcohol treatment center) do.

 

3) Start the week with brand new, UV resistant leader material...and change your leader butt (and tippet) at least every few days.  On one trip late in the week I was off by myself when suddenly the entirety of my leader butt degraded to the point of uselessness.  40# stuff broke with the slightest pressure.  I lost several hours of good fishing until I got back to my reserves.

 

4) Bring a thoughtful back up of medicines you might need.  In the old days there was 1 (One)(ONE ONLY!) flight in and out A WEEK.  On the flight from the mainland to Hawaii, the congestion from a dense head cold.....coupled with the depressurization-re-pressurization of takeoff and landing forced the mucus deep into my sinuses....repeated the second morning on the flight to Xmas Isl.  Within 2 days I had a bad sinus infection which, by the third day was causing the entire area around my left eye to swell and throb.  As a doctor I knew I was in trouble because by then there were only a few thin tissues between the abcess and my BRAIN.....which would be disasterous.  I began to wonder what an emergency flight back to HI was going to cost me. Maybe there was some medical aid on the island, I never got that far.  At dinner where ALL the week's fishermen population was assembled, I went to each table and inquired.  Luckily there was another (more thoughtful) doctor in the group who had a prescription of a broad spectrum antibiotic which he gave me....and saved my trip....if not me.  That place is a long way from ANYWHERE! 

 

My best Xmas Isl. memory was what happened in the first seconds of my first trip when I actually got to the water.  After the flight we unpacked, grabbed rods, jumped into the back of the trucks, and even though late in the day, went out to the lagoon for a little introductory fishing.  I was let out and the truck drove off to spot others.  I walked out onto a shell-formed spit around which a strong current was flowing.  Suddenly 7-8 very large bonefish in the 6# class BEACHED THEMSELVES AT MY FEET!!  WTF!! Then I saw this big, tuna-shaped dark THING zing by me. My first thought was..... what the heck is a tuna doing inside the lagoon?  Then it dawned on me.  That must be a Giant Trevally (and thus the terrorized bonefish flopping in front of me).  But......I was prepared......the drill told to us was to carry a popper in your breast pocket.  These things appear and are gone in mere seconds.  One was to put the hook of your bonefish fly....in this case a Charlie....thru the eye of the popper......and throw it!  I did just that, got off a clumsy 40 foot cast ......and popped it.  This black beast re-appeared  and opened it's mouth coming from underneath....and I pulled the fly out before it could chomp.  DAMN!!  I flopped the popper out a second time.  The beast appeared and ate the popper.  And I set the hook.....simultaneous with the realization that.....since I had previously caught (small) bonefish in the caribbean....on 6# test.......and since i wanted to get one here quickly.......I still had on 6# test leader.  Uh Oh!  PING!  I hardly even felt any resistance.  The entire encounter was over in about 10 seconds.  But all was not a total loss.  A few seconds later I saw my popper come floating serenely back to the surface.  The GT had simply held the popper firmly not allowing any movement to "set" the hook, decided it didn't taste edible.....and spit it out in contempt.  Those 10 seconds were the totality of my GT experience on Xmas Isl. for several more trips....until....given a full 5 minutes from first spotting a pair of big GT's cruising toward me along an encircling shoreline....5 minutes to prepare.....I never even got a cast off.  I had ascended the shoreline onto the coral shoulder to keep my stripped out line out of the water and free from debris as I cut back my leader and tied on a popper.  When the GT's were a hundred feet and coming I prepared to cast......but my flyline was hopelessly glued at each contact point to the incredibly spiculated coral bedrock and each inch had to be hand loosened.  I watched helplessly as the GT's ran into the assembled baitfish school I had been pushing ahead of me as I waded, crashed into them in 4-5 explosions.....and wandered off to execute mayhem elsewhere.  About ten minutes later I had my line free and had to re-tie for bonefish.  Some people are not meant to land a GT.  That encounter was the last time I went without the....at that time.....novel thing called a stripping basket.  These days, I hear that they chum them TO YOU....so you KNOW an are PREPARED with the appropriate rod/reel/leader/fly.

 

Have fun.  It is a trip!

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  • 4 weeks later...

A bit late to this party, sorry. I've been there twice, in 2005 and 2010, staying at the Captain Cook. The second time my son and I were the only visiting fishermen anywhere on the island. Can you believe that? One of the world's greatest bonefish destinations to just the two of us. Australian visits had stopped, and only the flight from Honolulu remained. American destination anglers seemed to be staying away - accommodation in what was the old Sergeants' mess in the days of A-bomb testing was pretty rudimentary, and certainly not what you'd get in top lodges elsewhere, which may have been a factor. We're British, so are used to muddling by, and the flights were cheap. We had a great time. I was planning to go back, but Covid stopped everything.

 

I can see it has changed. But I suspect it is still what you make of it: my son on one occasion spent two hours on a rock watching an octopus, and on another catching small reef fish inside the reef on very light tackle. There were GTs heading at speed across the flats, but we weren't after them (though we did have #12 rods with us, carried cheerily by the guide). We caught a lot of fish of many species, loads of bones, though averaging, at a guess, 3-4lb, and trevallies various up to about 10lb. That was what I'd done before, and it was fun. The guides I've had have been great: as long as you buy the flies their wife ties, you learn some Gilbertese (the 1979 Peace Corps handbook online is fine), have reasonable expectations and don't behave like an arse, you'll find the whole visit a total blast.

 

It's expensive, and I'm knocking on for seventy. But I'm planning to do it again.

 

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On 11/26/2023 at 4:10 PM, JRT said:

 

I've done that trip. 17 hours non-stop. Then the 1.5 hour flight to Exmouth. It was brutal. I can't say noise cancellation made much difference.

But I'd do it again tomorrow for the fishing. 

My friend just got back from Papa New Guinea and it was 40 hours of transit, brutal.  Unfortunately that's the name of the game, I'm still working on what I need to get to Seychelles but I do not look forward to the travel.

 

I find noise cancellation headphones, whether Airpods or my over-the-head Sony headphones are very helpful, so YMMV.

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On 11/1/2023 at 10:48 PM, PhillyPhisher said:

Going to Christmas Island the beginning of the year. Who’s been there? What should I know? Gear? Flies?

 

It’s time for me to start tying and getting things together. Thanks y’all! 

Just got back 2 weeks ago. Stayed at The Villages. Went with 2 buddies and had an awesome trip. So much so we are headed back next October. I hooked 2 GT’s but lost both- one on a hook pull out the other over some coral. My buddy landed a beast. 
 

I hooked a bunch of triggers and landed three. They are a ton of fun as well. There are a ton of bonefish- some big ones however the GT’s and triggers were our only focus after a half day warm up on bonefish. I’ll find a couple pics. 
 

The lodge is sparse but comfortable- had AC and WiFi. The food was very good - just can’t drink the water like many countries. If you want anything other than beer bring it from duty free in Honolulu. 
 

For fishing gear- 8# bonefish, 10# triggers and 12# fir GT. Bring a spare if you have it and especially extra fly lines. I got nearly spooled on a GT and it broke at my backing. 
 

I’m sure there is a bunch of other stuff that I’ll post if I think of it - otherwise ask away! 
 

Have a great trip!

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On 12/23/2023 at 2:28 PM, paraphysis said:

Just got back 2 weeks ago. Stayed at The Villages. Went with 2 buddies and had an awesome trip. So much so we are headed back next October. I hooked 2 GT’s but lost both- one on a hook pull out the other over some coral. My buddy landed a beast. 
 

I hooked a bunch of triggers and landed three. They are a ton of fun as well. There are a ton of bonefish- some big ones however the GT’s and triggers were our only focus after a half day warm up on bonefish. I’ll find a couple pics. 
 

The lodge is sparse but comfortable- had AC and WiFi. The food was very good - just can’t drink the water like many countries. If you want anything other than beer bring it from duty free in Honolulu. 
 

For fishing gear- 8# bonefish, 10# triggers and 12# fir GT. Bring a spare if you have it and especially extra fly lines. I got nearly spooled on a GT and it broke at my backing. 
 

I’m sure there is a bunch of other stuff that I’ll post if I think of it - otherwise ask away! 
 

Have a great trip!

Hell yeah! This just got me stoked! I’ve been tying like a madman. Will probably have way more than necessary. Surprised to hear you were using a 10wt for triggers. I’d assumed it would an 8. 

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