This blog comes to you from Ron Young of Fins & Feathers!
I finally got the chance to fish Kiribati (aka Christmas Island) this March. Since the connection to Christmas Island is through Honolulu, Hawaii, this trip allowed my wife to stay and visit with her parents while I continued 1,300 miles South on the weekly flight to the island. I went with a friend who had fished Christmas Island several times before, which was another reason to make this trip.
Kiribati Island is not well-developed and definitely not a “couples destination,” unless your wife is a hard core fisherwomen. We booked the trip through our friends Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures. They do a good job with trip planning and meeting your expectations. Our Bozeman fly shop also helped me with extra rod setups, lines, leaders, flies, etc. as you do need to bring extra gear since nothing is available on the Island. The accommodations are rustic, but clean, and the staff is very friendly and helpful. The guides are all natives and know the flats very well. The guides like to smoke hand-rolled cigarettes and the staff also loves to sing. The native people are very genuine and work hard to keep you happy.
Christmas Island, with its endless flats to fish and explore, it is not hard to see that this is a bone fish paradise. Although with any place you sight fish for bones, you need sunny conditions to stalk them. Unfortunately, sunny conditions are not what we had. Lots of clouds and rain were the norm for the week, unusual for this time of the year in this tropical location on the Equator. We still made it work; scoring on bone fish every day we were on the flats. My biggest was a 7 pounder and my friend Bob landed a 9 pounder. One day I broke off 3 big bones in a row (strip striking a little hard that morning). I averaged 8 to 10 bones per day, although I think other fishermen had higher daily averages listening to them talk back at the Hut. I had a couple of halfhearted shots at GT and did turn one. I also hooked a triggerfish but lost it. I missed a good opportunity at a school of some big bluefin trevally all while fishing the flats.
I did land a 30 pound giant trevally and a nice bluefin trolling a 12 weight during the rainy days. Not much skill involved in the trolling but it was fun fighting these fish. What I did not expect was to hook into a 30-35 pound yellowfin tuna. We ran into several schools fishing the “blue water.” There were four fishermen in each boat and when you hit a school all of us would get into them, although landing them was a different story. These are hard fighting fish and they can blow up your fly gear. I burned out one reel and lost two fly lines before I finally landed one. I met an old friend on this trip that I used to work and fish with from a construction project in the Catskills 25 years ago that had an extra reel that saved the day for me.
On another rainy day we again went out off shore in search of yellowfin. I brought an extra Mirage reel (I wish I had on my original 12 weight) and my friend Bob had extra line that I borrowed. We got into another round of yellowfins but the big event was catching milkfish that were hugging a Korean fishing vessel that was anchored up. Everyone hooked up on these fish casting next to the boat and the fight was on. These fish are incredible fighting fish. It took 55 minutes to land my milkfish and I was glad when I finally had it in the boat. The best part of the day though, was when my friend Bob hooked a milkfish and my old acquaintance Jimmy from the Catskills hooked a GT. Both fish were going in opposite directions and neither knew the other had a fish on. They could not understand why the boat was not helping them out! It was entertaining watching this to say the least. We did land both fish with Jimmy bringing in a 70 pound GT and Bob’s milkfish in the 25 pound range.
I will have to admit on the milkfish action we were running out of time, so they put a hunk of a cut up small Jack on my algae fly. Bob said he hooked his without a hunk of meat although I am pretty sure Jimmy had a hunk on his streamer when he dropped it below the milkfish school into the jaws of his big GT.
Jimmy and his buddy Larry went out in the blue water for yellowfin a third time. These guys loved to fight fish and they brought the gear to win the battle. I think they supplied the Village with tuna for a week.
If you get a chance to go to Christmas Island do not pass it up. Bring extra gear and some friends and have yourself one hell of a time.