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