Customer Christmas Island trip summary May 1-17, 2023
Not until I boarded Fiji Airways flight to Christmas Island did I take a deep breath. We have all been holding our breaths for well over 3 years due to Covid restrictions, lockdowns and zero flights to get there.
I have been juggling clients’ bookings and dates, making changes almost weekly. One week we are told it’s a go, next week flights are cancelled. Credit must be given to all our clients who hung in there through it all. You must all be seriously stubborn fly fishers. There were so many interconnecting layers to make it all happen, no one can be blamed. Life is an adventure after all.
First thing promised was to text everyone that it was actually happening. OK, so I forgot one person, my husband. Ouch. I’ll pay for that later.
The signs were good from the beginning when I checked into the Alaska Airlines gate at RDM. They checked both 50 lb bags all the way through to Christmas Island. No pick-up, lugging to/from HNL for overnight stay. Wow, that was a back saver and a few bucks for the extra bag on Fiji Air. I had plenty of overnight things in my carry-on so I was a happy camper.
Arrived at HNL by 10 am Tuesday morning, which gave me enough time to stock up at Duty-Free for bottles of Rum, Whisky and a pack of Marlboros to bribe the guide. I need all the help I can get. It’s the little things that matter most for anyone on the islands.
The Fiji flight flew by, no pun intended and of course no anticipation …The new airport terminal makes things a lot quicker & easier. It took no time at all to drop off our Health Declaration forms, pick up luggage and buy required fishing license.
Kiribati is known for its warm welcome for guests to their island, but imagine what kind of welcome the first guests got after 3 plus years of no one. Multiple groups singing, dancing, lots of smiles, photos, and flowers. You’d think we were royalty. I sure felt like a queen. It was so good to be back.
Mwatanga (Matt) loaded our luggage and less than 40 minutes later we arrived at his new lodging the Tropical Flats Fishing Lodge. We each had our own rooms with walk-in shower, air conditioning and small frig. Lobster dinner served at 7pm and early to bed or late, depending on your time zone. The last time I’ll even worry about the time for the next 2 weeks.
Up at 6 am for breakfast of coffee, eggs, bacon and toast. How did they get all that here on an island that can’t grow anything but coconuts? Impressive to say the least. 10 minute ride to the boat and another 20 minutes to the first flat and we’re getting our first fish on.
We each had our own guides and traded off everyday for a nice variety. Can’t say anything bad about any of them. They work extra hard to get you a fish. It’s my problem if I miss the cast, cast on the fishes head or am slow to make the cast. Right? Right.
Then there are the screaming reels with lines going every which way and into the backing before you can say Yahoo! This happens a few more times before the 5-pound bone comes to hand. Sometimes not! Broken hooks were a big issue, beefing up the leader to 20 pound test which helped, but man oh man, I’m asking for a new reel with a bigger arbour for my birthday. And I only have 10 more days to figure it all out.
Each day we moved to 3 or different locations, mostly dependent on tides. There were always fish to be found. If only I could see them. I highly recommend just listening to your guide and casting where he points. Hmmm for some reason this works so much better than me waiting to see the fish. The other guys in the group were focused on getting GT’s so we hunted for them a lot. I liked the game of targeting Triggers cause I could actually see them but boy are they spooky. It never failed. I’d hit them right on the head with the fly. I don’t recommend this technique. It does not work. Still, I find the Trigger game a fun challenge.
In the next 10 days we fished all the spots with names you might know, 9-mile flat, Bird island, the Dam, Paris, Korean wreck, the Pancakes, the one we named Bacon, the Back Country, Y flat, Smokey, Texas. Paris was the first time I’d seen Bones school up and cruise by as a dark cloud. Casting to the middle of these usually got you an eight-pounder or more. Three casts, three Bones. Crazy fun. Matt said the average Bone used to be 2-3 pounders and now more like 4-5 pounders. Must be that Covid diet we’ve all been on? Plenty of GTs caught between 20-40 pounds. Will I be able to handle a 50-80 pound one? That’s yet to be determined.
Took Tuesday off so we could fish on Wednesday when everyone else was flying home. Having all the flats to yourself is pretty cool. A couple of days the wind and monsoonal rains forced us to come in early, happens in later afternoon when you’ve caught enough fish to be more than glad to head back for a cold one.
Got to snorkel a nice little coral reef one day while the boys went on a GT hunt. Think I had the better view. Who knew there were so many different kinds of fish that have never found my hook? I’ve got to do more of that next time. One day our 2 hour drive took us through the Sooty Terns rookery where the road had been closed while the babies got their wings. These birds seem to nest wherever the egg drops. No nest or incubation needed when it’s 80’ day and night. Not sure any parenting is needed. We’re talking thousands of birds in the air and on the ground, all in this one small area. Guess I’ll have to do some more research on my Christmas Island birding.
The last day we were the first to check in at the airport, 3:30 am is not too early. Your check-in luggage is searched thoroughly. Yes every piece of clothing, even the wet ones in the garbage bag. Not sure what they think I’m hiding. Boarding passes are handwritten. We weren’t charged departure tax. The scanner through security was down, so another search is done with the carry-on bags. Then the pat down. When the plane arrives from Fiji it is a quick turn around off to Hawaii and back to reality. Or as my new friend said, “ Maybe we’re leaving reality”.
The latest word about flights to Fanning is they’ll resume late July, early August.
What is really exciting is Fanning Island Outfitters 2 week island combo. Warm up your casting on Christmas Island then go target the big boys for a week on Fanning. It can’t happen soon enough.
Call me anytime, Joyce
If you would like to know more information about the amazing saltwater fishing on offer you can read our full tour page for Christmas Island. Alternatively, you can contact our saltwater fly fishing expert Peter Collingsworth on 01603 407 596 or email at email@example.com.