Many of you know that I just returned from Christmas Island – my fly fishing home away from home where I spend as much time as possible during the chilly months. The island is located in the middle of the South Pacific, a 3.5 hour 737 flight from Honolulu. Christmas Island aka Kiritimati, Kiribati is an independent nation comprised of several islands spread out across 1200 miles of the Pacific Ocean. It is a stunningly beautiful, otherworldly place to visit and is inhabited by the warmest, most welcoming people you could ever hope to meet.
Before my first visit to Christmas Island, I had been on one week-long saltwater fishing trips to Mexico (once), Belize(three times), and Honduras (once). Those were all fun trips, but the focus of the fishing was on Permit and Tarpon – and many more hours were spent standing on the bow deck looking and hoping rather than casting to fish. On my first trip to Christmas Island, I hooked more fish and a greater variety of fish in one week than I had in the previous five trips to saltwater.
Christmas Island was the first place to close its doors to the outside world when the COVID pandemic just got going in February of 2020. I was on the last flight of anglers to leave the island before the lockdown and was unable to return until this October (just a few months after they had finally reopened to anglers and lodge guests). For over three years, the fish were untouched – or so we had hoped. There was no telling if, during lockdown, the locals had decided to kill and eat the normally protected fish in the lagoon.
As I returned in October with a lodge comprised entirely of women, in the back of my mind I had a gnawing worry that the fishing may have suffered. On day one, I shared a boat with two lady anglers who could cast and fish but for whom the saltwater experience was a new one. We each got dropped off with our guides on different pancake flats. Imagine a Frisbee enlarged to the size of four football fields, covered in powder-white sand, and submerged 2 feet under crystal-clear tropical warm water. That is a pancake flat. As you shuffle slowly across the flat side by side with your guide, his eyes see the ghostly shapes of bonefish swimming towards you from every direction. “40 feet, Two O’Clock, there are three of them.” “Good cast! Strip… strip…. Stop… strip.. you got ‘em!” The bonefish parade goes on and on. The first stop lasted an hour or so and I lost count on the number of bonefish I hooked, broke a few off while knocking the rust off my saltwater game, and even bent out a hook or two. They were bigger than I remembered and more plentiful. When we all climbed back aboard the boat after the first session, the grins were wide and the excitement was palpable. One of my boat partners had hooked 10 bones and the other had hooked 15 bones– on the very first stop! This set the tone for what was a fantastic week.
The great fishing continued and the weather was absolutely ideal for our saltwater pursuits. We had a light breeze every day and very few clouds in the first week. The women really embraced the island, the people, and the huge variety of fish available to a fly flinging angler. We caught many, many bonefish, all three species of trigger fish (Yellow Margin, Titan, and Picasso), Bluefin Trevally, Giant Trevally, Golden Trevally, Yellow Tail Trevally, Striped Trevally, Grouper, Snapper, Parrotfish, Pufferfish, Goatfish, Swallow-Tail Darts, Queenfish, Sweetlips, a Black Tip Reef Shark, Skip Jack Tuna, and even a Booby (bird) who was curiously checking out the angler and ran into the fly line. All of these creatures were released unharmed.
My Friend and co-host for the women’s week, Heather Hodson, stayed on for the second week as we said goodbye to the ladies and welcomed a co-ed group of anglers for week number two. The weather was a bit more variable – we did have a couple of rainy and cloudy days – but the fishing remained strong and everyone came away from the week with stories to tell and smiles on their faces.
Christmas Island is, without question, one of the great values left in a saltwater lodge experience. The travel is a piece of cake, the fishing offers a huge variety of species and experiences, and the landscape of the island is “pinch yourself” beautiful. The guides are smart and funny and they love what they do, and the staff people at the lodge are sweet and fun and always doing what they can to make our stay comfortable. The lodge price for the week – 6 nights of lodging, all meals, and 6 days of fishing with your own personal guide each day is only $3290. Getting there is a bit pricey - $1200 to $1400 for the round trip from Honolulu to CXI. Overall, however, if you have $6000 to spend, that will cover all expenses for this week-long trip, including the night in Hawaii, all gratuities, daily laundry service, etc. Travel is a snap - fly to Hawaii, spend one night, fly to CXI, fish for 6 days, fly back to Hawaii, change planes, fly home.
If you are interested in securing a spot on this hosted trip, please feel free to give me a call at the fly shop 541-395-0995 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.