11
Sep 10

Fishing World: An early Christmas

A little story about Christmas Island, which doesn’t sound like too bad a place, really.

For many years, stalking bonefish over brilliant white sand flats and crystal clear shin deep water was something I’d daydreamed about, along with fishing for those bucket mouthed tarpon of the Bahamas and Florida Keys. Thankfully I can now say I’ve done the former, and it was worth the wait.

via Fishing World: An early Christmas.

On a side note, this is September 11th… a day that has thrust itself from the  calendar at us since that morning back in 2001. I was living in Redding, CA at the time, working at the Shasta Regional Community Foundation.  I had just left my apartment and was on my way to work when I turned on my radio, NPR was on.  I had the immediate sense that I was listening to something akin to War of the Worlds.  I kept waiting for someone to say “And that is what could happen if we aren’t vigilant.” I got to the office and went straight to the conference room TV and turned on the news… every channel was the news that day. What a shock that was.

I was talking to someone years later who had been living abroad at the time and couldn’t understand what had really shifted in this country in the “post 9-11” world.  It was hard to put into words.  Something has changed, for sure.

It was no coincidence that soon after 9-11 I went fishing. When you are out fishing, be it on a flat, lake or river, you either give yourself over to the moment or your fishing suffers.  You can’t contemplate life’s many injustices (large or small) while fishing. You have to push all of that out of your mind and focus totally on what you are doing, trying to get into the head of a fish.  Fishing is solace.


05
Jul 10

Christmas Island Flights Resume – Fiji Times Online

Air Pacific resumed flights to Christmas Island this week after two years. The inaugural flight was received with joy and relief as businesses, particularly the tourism industry, was affected by the absence of international flights.

via New flight gains – Fiji Times Online.

This means those Christmas Island bones just got a little bit easier to get to.


12
May 10

A Plea to Mother Ocean and Father Time

Joe Doggett has a plea to Mother Ocean and Father Time for another trip to Christmas Island. The story is in the Houston Chronicle and it is a good read.

Christmas Island sure does seem like a wonderful, fantastic bonefishing destination and I hope to write my own story about the place and the fish one of these days… probably not any time soon, sadly.

Read Brian Gies’ interview about Christmas Island.

Looks nice.


29
Apr 10

NYT Throwback – 1994 Howell Raines – Xmas Island

The Gray Lady has dished out some good stories on the Gray Ghost over the years.  While searching for some bonefish nuggets I found this story from Howell Raines from 1994 all about Christmas Island… Pursuing the Bonefish Across a Watery Desert.

Albula vulpes, “the gray ghost of the sand flats,” is one of the most lied about and lusted after fish in the world. Catching one is not as hard as devotees like to pretend, but it is hard enough.

See… that’s nice.


06
Apr 10

Interview with Brian Gies of Fly Water Travel

Brian Gies is the business manager and CFO at Fly Water Travel, a company located in Ashland, Oregon, that sends anglers out all over the world for life changing angling experiences.  As a kid I used to go to Ashland for their fantastic Shakespeare Festival, little did I know the city was also the gateway to Argentina, Mongolia and Christmas Island.

The subject of this interview was about Christmas Island, one of those “ultimate” destinations.

Merry Christmas indeed.

Flywater Travel offers trips to Christmas Island.  Christmas is one of those places that is seen as an ultimate destination.  What is it that makes Christmas Island so special?

The answer sounds a bit cliché but besides that fact that year in and year out the place just flat out produces some of the most consistent flats fishing anywhere in the world, it is the people.  Of all the destinations we sent people Christmas Island ranks number one in client response about the guides, lodging staff.   I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that the people of the island are truly kind generous people who are easy to laugh and eager to help.

What are the challenges that a place like Christmas Island presents that you might not encounter other places?

The bottom line is this is a tiny island in the middle of the pacific so just getting basic goods and services there can be a challenge.  The accommodations and meals anglers receive are nothing to write home about but they are far above what the vast majority of the islanders have.  Imagine this:   At least once or twice a year this island runs out of rice and sugar.  Out….Totally.

Xmas GT

I’ve heard that netting has been impacting bonefish. How is the state of the fishery there?

Over the years netting as well as angler pressure has impacted the fishing.  To be honest you would be hard pressed to confirm which has been harder.  Over the years the island has been almost loved to death with as many as 50 + anglers on the flats a week.  The flats can handle a lot of pressure but this number of anglers and a growing island population was starting to take a toll.

However, as of late there have been two major developments.  First, just over a year ago the government passed a regulation that prohibits netting bonefish in the lagoon.  Second for the past year and a half the charter flight to the island has only had the capacity to take 18 people a week to and from the island.  The result has been truly spectacular fishing.  I honestly think if we can keep the numbers of anglers to a minimum(Max 30 a week) and the island can keep the nets out of the lagoon the place will keep on producing great fishing long into the future.

What can one expect in terms of weather and wind in a place like Christmas Island?

Air temperatures are usually in the upper 80’s to low 90’s and water temperatures average 75°.  Wind is typically constant between 5-10mph.

What are the unique gear considerations for Christmas?

Gear is quite typical of other flats destinations.  7 or 8wt rods for bonefish and 12wt for giant trevally.  The big thing is that as it is 100% wade fishing good flats boots are a must.

If you had to bring one bonefish fly for Xmas, what would that be?

No doubt it would be a orange Christmas Island special size #6

What does a good day’s fishing on Xmas look like?

A good day means different things to different people and numbers of fishing landed is often just one piece of the pie.  For the average angler on Christmas it would be learning the subtleties of casting in the wind on the flats, learning how to strip set on a bonefish, learning how to cast to a tailing vs a cruising  fish, catching between 10 and 20 bonefish that average 3 lbs, getting one or two shots at trevally, and having a great conversations with the guides in between the fishing.

Trigger... crazy looking Christmas fish

Thanks Brian. Hope to see you in Christmas some day.


27
Jan 10

ESPN dishes on Christmas, Island that is…

Looking for stories on Christmas Island, where a friend will be fishing in three weeks, I came across this little story about Christmas Island on, of all places, the ESPN.com site.  Worth a read to wet your Christmas appetite. Story by Bill Becher.

Bill Becher photo


24
Aug 09

Happy Holidays Island (ya know… gotta be PC)

Christmas Island is, by all accounts, a really amazing place.

I found this report about a Xmas Island trip… http://tiny.cc/9JuD7

Christmas Island is a place that has everything the bonefishing angler could really want… mainly just a ton of bones with the possibility of a GT thrown in.  However… there are drawbacks… like the 2 days it takes to get there, the charter flight required to get there and cost… yeah, it always comes down to cost for me.  It’s spendy.  If I sold my daughter I could probably do it, but, I’m mighty fond of her.  The girl may only be 2.5, but can already identify a bonefish, tarpon, rooster fish and trout.  She has recently been asking me to tell her fish stories… so… I can’t really sell her off… no one else would listen to my fish stories.

If you make it there, take some pictures, let me know how it went and I’ll throw up a story about it so I can live vicariously through your experience.