Christmas Island, in the central pacific Republic of Kiribati, has long been on my target list of fly fishing destinations. So when I got word from Jesse Cheape there was a empty spot on a trip to Crystal Beach Lodge I was quick to sign up. The trip was hosted by Joe Willauer of Evo Anglers and scheduled for the 29th April – 5th May, which coincided with prime GT tides.
After a few false starts our group of 6, consisting of 5 Seppos and myself, arrived from Hawaii to blue skies and a glassy ocean. Perfect weather for flats fishing, unfortunately however our six days of fishing were to begin the following day. The weather during the trip remained good for the most part with rain a couple of nights and a couple of cloudy days that just encouraged us to chase trevally rather than bones.
The newly finished accommodation at Crystal Beach is simple and practical making it a perfect angler base. Of course CXI is almost as remote as you can get in the modern world but still has the comfort of air conditioning.
The size of the lagoon and the incredible number of flats has to be seen to be believed. Each flat is unique and with varying fishing options to keep all anglers busy no matter the tide or target species.
CXI has a reputation for having a multitude of small sized bonefish, and we did catch bucket loads, however there are also plenty of big ones as well. According to some locals and guides the average size has been increasing since they became protected. The biggest I landed for the week was 7lb, but bones of any size are all worth catching.
The other main draw for anglers in CXI apart from bonefish are the trevally, including the highly sought after giant trevally or GTs.
Fish up to and exceeding 100lbs roam the shorelines looking for prey, usually milkfish or mullet, and can be legitimately caught on the fly. During our trip Joe Willauer nailed a monster that was estimated to be ~110lbs on his 12wt in a remarkable afternoon in which he landed 5.
Golden, Blue and Bluefin Trevally cruise the flats and shorelines ready to eat a well presented fly.
Surgeonfish are common across the flats but aren’t normally a target as they rarely take the fly. However for some reason one took a liking to a GT deceiver and fought exceptionally hard on the 12wt.
Triggerfish are another main target on the fly at CXI, and we definitely saw our fair share. We spent the best part of two days targeting them but I still didn’t land one, while my partner Jesse nailed a nice one on the last day. They definitely aren’t easy, and interceptions from small trevally and snapper often spook them.
As it was my first trip to CXI I took a large array of flats flies to cover myself for the week. However in hindsight, a standard assortment of Christmas Island specials in pearl, orange and pink in varying weights from size 4-8 will cover most of the flats fishing for bones, triggers and trevally. Similarly half a dozen large (6/0) deceivers tied to imitate milkfish and mullet would probably cover any GT action.
Already I can’t wait to return and continue exploring more of the flats and species of Christmas Island.