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Let's Go Fly Fishing: Christmas Island

January 20, 2017

Let's Go Fly Fishing: Christmas Island

This was originally posted on Truly Montana Outdoors.

Kiribati- The Christmas Island

JANUARY 09, 2017

The Christmas Island is the biggest atoll in the world located a few hundred miles off of the equator about 1500 miles south of Hawaii. It is one of the most premier fisheries in the world. On the endless flats that we walked we would be chasing bone fish, GT's (giant trevally), trigger fish and many other species that inhabit the warm pacific waters of the area. We started our trip at the Bozeman International Airport, flew to LAX, stayed a night in Honolulu, then finally we were off to the Christmas Island on a short three hour flight.

I've heard stories about this place from my dad and his friends who were with us on the trip, but after five years of stories, nothing could have prepared me for this adventure. I hope the photos I provide will give you some idea of the beauty of this place, although pictures cannot possibly compare to the real thing. The natives from the island are some of the most friendly and happy people on earth even though they are extremely poor, living in make shift shacks, and community living centers, nothing seems to keep a smile off their face. We were welcomed by the employees from our fishing lodge and they took us to the lodge where we would be staying to gear up and have one more sleepless night before we got to step foot on our first flat the following morning.

The first morning we were primarily chasing bone fish, armed with a 7 weight and I couldn't have been more excited. When we stepped off the boat we were immediately into fish. The guides were incredible spotting fish for us and helping our strip sequence until we were proficient at spotting ourselves, the first flat and my first time in salt yielded 16 bone fish and one baby GT within three hours. I knew I was in for an incredible week! The following days continued to offer more and more incredible flats and endless fish, but the second day was one of my favorites.

I had seen photos of Trigger Fish from previous trips, an insane looking fish I was determined to catch but they were extremely spooky, and even if they were willing to eat they are hard to hook up to due to their large teeth. My guide and I spotted a yellow trigger with his tail up feeding on a coral bed (using his teeth to break shells), one cast and he was immediately interested in my fly. One more short strip and the line stopped, I was hooked up and the fight was on. I was fishing with a 10 foot seven weight from Winston, a very powerful rod but this big trigger had no troubles immediately putting it to work and taking me to my backing in one run! After finally getting the fish within view he darted into a hole in the coral. My guide, Shamano, didn't hesitate to get into the water and pull this fish out. I was hesitant because the trigger fish can take off a finger in one bite, but my guide insisted, using his foot too move the coral before reaching in. After a few seconds he pulled up the trigger by his tail! It was an incredible fight and an even more incredible fish. Truly a dream come true for me.

There was no way to say one day was better than the other, but it was an incredible second day, the third and fourth produced more and more healthy beautiful bone fish, blue trevally but still no GT. Giant trevally are like sharks, they eat other fish and their power and ferocity is truly second to none- a salt water killer. While hooked up to a bone fish, I had a 25 to 30 pound GT come from  the depths and try and eat my bone fish. My guide helped me land my bone fish and quickly switched me rods as I began frantically trying to double haul as much line as I could into the direction the GT went. After sending out 50 feet of line, I quickly stripped the take was brutal I finally hooked up to a GT and the fight was on. After two deep runs into my backing and 20 minutes of fighting, the beast was finally worn out as I slowly brought him back onto the flat. My favorite part about the GT is that they fight so hard, once you get them in, they are spent and pose perfectly for a photo.

After a few more incredible days and spending some time with the whole group and my dad taking photos and catching more fish, I can say it was definitely the trip of a life time, an eye opening amazing experience! These are only a couple short stories of my experience of my journey but I hope the photos help you live through my experience. I also encourage all of you guys to take on some salt water fly fishing and break away from the trout scene every couple years, you won't be disappointed!

A special thank you to FishOn Energy as well for setting me up with some awesome gear, I am sporting their new water proof boonie, and neck gator to keep the intense sun off of me!

-Ryan Millhollin