Fly Fishing Travels: GTs, Bonefish and Triggers On Christmas Island

Fly Fishing Travels GTs, Bonefish and Triggers On Christmas Island (1)

El Nino: This weather pattern took its toll on Christmas Island this year. The water in the lagoon and around the island was a full degree and a half warmer than normal. The results? Less bait, less big fish- on the outside that is. The fish inside the lagoon were eager to take a well presented fly and are strong as ever.

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The build up to the trip was exceptionally nerve racking this year. Friends had their trips cancelled due to weather, friends of friends had the same thing. This year probably marked the most cancelled trips in a long time on Christmas Island: as was almost the case with our trip. As we loaded on the 737 in Honolulu, the skies were clear and beautiful, then as the plane made its way south, the clouds began to get thicker and thicker.

Flight Time and Arrival on Christmas Island

After about 2.5 hours of flight time, we started our descent into Christmas Island. Usually, you are on the ground in 20 minutes or so once the plane begins its approach to the old WWII runway. Nervously checking my watch, I noticed that 35 minutes had gone by, then 40, then 50. Finally, after about 55 minutes, the captain announced that there was a severe storm directly over the runway and we were going to give it 10 more minutes before we continued on to Fiji. My heart sank as I kept catching glimpses of the island through the clouds with my face pressed against the window.

Fly Fishing Travels GTs, Bonefish and Triggers On Christmas Island (4)

Suddenly, the plane went a little lower, then lower, and then the clouds became dark grey almost black in color. I looked down to see the small village of London and saw that we were only about 200 feet off the deck. At that exact moment, the captain put down the flaps and landing gear in one motion and set the plane down on a rain flooded runway. White wash from all the water on the runway combined with the reverse engines created quite a scene. After what seemed like a ½ mile, the plane finally slowed enough to turn around and taxi back to the "gate." We had made it! Applause from the cabin erupted and everybody was happy to be on the ground.

Upon arrival at The Ikari House, Tim Pask had a stunned look on his face... "You guys landed in that!" he said. John and I just looked at each other nodded and headed straight to the fridge for a cold mental eraser. Once un-packed and rods rigged, we settled into appetizers and made plans for the next day.  Moana, our head guide, let us know that much of the bait had left and lots of small bonefish had pushed up into the milkfish ponds due to all the rainfall. We were at the island during a new moon tide and many of us had milkfish on the brain.

Fly Fishing Travels GTs, Bonefish and Triggers On Christmas Island (2)

Day-By-Day Fishing: GTs, Triggers and Bonefish... oh my!

Our first day on the island had about the same type of weather as when we arrived with heavy rain and virtually no wind. We decided to throw large popper for GT’s on the outside until the rain subsided, then we would chase Milkfish and end the day on the flats looking for Triggers, Bones, and GT’s. After about an hour of popping, we landed 3 GT’s and had an encounter with a 100+ pound giant that simply missed the lure. We settled into casting to giant schools of milkfish shortly after the weather cleared and got to feel the power that these fish can dish out.

Over the next 2 days, we repeated the GT fishing, then chasing milkfish, then finishing the day with bonefish and triggers. We un-locked the milkfish game on Christmas Island with dozens of hookups and several landed fish. By the end of the trip, we were almost tired of hooking up to these powerful fish.

Fly Fishing Travels GTs, Bonefish and Triggers On Christmas Island (3)

Day three brought me my first GT encounter on the flats for 2016. We were on a flat with Moana chasing triggers when I spotted two GT’s in the 60-70 ranged, angling slightly towards us moving across the flat about 200 yards away. The three of us began to move to cut them off and Scott gave me the shot. We were within about 50 yards when the two GT’s angled harder towards us so we stopped and I began my cast. When the fly landed, Moana said "the one in the front will spook and the back one will eat it-" When the fish were about 10 feet from my fly, I bumped the fly with a slow strip and like clockwork the front fish spooked and the second one inhaled the fly.

Fly Fishing Travels GTs, Bonefish and Triggers On Christmas Island (5)

The fish then screamed off the edge of the flat, which was roughly 100 yards away, so I began my 100 yard dash through thigh deep water. Once I reached the edge of the flat, the battle began to get down and dirty. As I clamped on my drag, the fish surged hard then came free- I was bummed. As I reeled in my line, I noticed the fish broke the fly line about 2 feet up from the leader.

The next day brought me another shot at a nice GT. Once again, there were two fish cruising towards me about 60 pounds each. I laid my cast out, bumped the fly and this time, the leading fish rushed the fly and was shaking its head before I knew it. It ran off the edge of the flat and after 10 minutes, I had the fish to hand. I was relieved to say the least. After chasing GT’s with a fly for 3 years and either breaking them off or trout setting on them, it finally all came together.

Every time I go back to Christmas Island, I learn more about the limitless types of fishing you can choose from. It is literally a playground that every angler should get a chance to experience. There is nothing like it.

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Assistant Manager at North 40 Outfitters
I grew up in eastern Washington fishing or hunting every chance I could. My hobbies quickly turned into addictions and I was constantly on the Columbia River swinging flies for steelhead. I headed to the westside to attend college and received a degree in physics. This proved to be difficult due to the new addiction of spey casting to steelhead on the rivers of western Washington. After graduating, I moved to Sandpoint, ID where I married my college sweetheart. I opened my own fly shop and ran it successfully for 6 years until I merged with Big R Fly Shop. Now my days are spent loving the outdoors, with my wife and two boys, who certainly got bit by the fishing bug, and teaching anglers to enjoy the sport of fly fishing and spey casting.

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