Wednesday, November 4, 2015

So you think there are just small bonefish on Christmas Island?

Guy Gardiner always gives us a great report on his trips with his fellow New Zealanders to Christmas Island. (2014 report hereGuy is an old friend having traveled twice to the Seychelles with me. Guy has gone to Christmas Island with us quite a few times now and here is his report from his most recent visit:

Hi Scott.

Our party of 8 had another stellar fishing experience at CIO in the week straddling September/October where we fished the new moon tides when we arrived and the neaps at the end. Half our number had very limited experience at sight flyfishing so it was a different group to what I have hosted in the past. My son, Leo, in particular had not done much fishing at all and could be called a novice yet he caught 20 bonefish, a wahoo, yellowfin tuna and a sailfish offshore in addition to numerous hookups. He had only one blank day out of the 8 we fished. It is a great place for a flyfishing beginner. We actually struck king spring tides which meant the fish were bigger but the times and places they were actively feeding were more limited than usual until later in the week when they really came on in numbers I haven’t experienced since 1995. You really can choose whether you go for numbers or size or as we did go for a compromise. 


Dan, my brother in law, with a trophy Trigger fish caught at Korean Wreck. 

The lodge continues to offer the wonderful ambience and tempo that it always has and the guiding service maintains the same quality levels I have experienced since 2010 when I came with my father. One sad note is that the owner, proprietor and former mayor of the island Jim Tekiti has died and the operation continues under the auspices of his wife Anita and Biita still runs the guiding service. The lodge side of things is managed by Kata who previous clients might remember as the head chef. 

The weather was more patchy and our day planned for Korean Wreck was a failure due to the southerly and our back up option also fell over due to the track to Submarine Flat on the south side of the island being flooded out. Also Y site is no longer accessible by truck due to saltwater creek cuts through some off the tracks which is no real problem as more is boat accessible now but it did limit our Korean Wreck day. I am not sure whether it is due to a run of high tides or rising sea levels but an interesting development. 

That is one big bonefish!

Guy's son Leo and his big bone

Two personal highlights for me were our off shore day where we hooked up 13 wahoo/tuna/barracuda and boated 5 wahoo, 1 yellowfin tuna and a cuda as well as hooking 2 sailfish and Leo landed one which we managed to resuscitate and release. I fought one on fly tackle for 25 minutes before losng it. The best day offshore I have experienced in 20 years there. The other was my biggest ever bonefish by far hooked on Paris on a worm fly. I scaled the measurements in the photo and it comes in at 72cm as held and probably weighed 15-15.5 lbs. A lifetime highlight. [I'll say! Congratulations Guy, that is a truly tremendous bonefish! Ed.]

All the best,

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Water Cay Lodge Trip Report: 10/17-24/15 PART TWO

My memory of the next four days is now a blur of stalking on the endless flats that surround Water Cay. We fished mangrove creeks carpeted in dark turtlegrass and sandy undulating shore flats. We fished lovely white sand bays and seeming endless Casaurina lined beaches. We covered many square miles and rarely saw another boat.

Mike Schwartz releasing a hefty specimen!

Whether with Ezra, Greg or our leader Sidney, we were always in promising areas and always learning from these amazingly accomplished guides. If we listened to their well thought-out instructions and placed their concepts into action, we were usually rewarded with fish. I’ve often said, fish with the guides at Water Cay and you will come away a much better angler... no matter how good you are. It amazes me that after after 40 years of bonefishing, I’ve still learn so much from Ezra, Greg and Sid. Thanks guys!

Our tides got better and better as the week wore on. We started each day on a full or just turned high. As the week wore on the tides became fully neaped. The sliver of a moon on Day One waxed to be half full by the time we reluctantly departed. We had picked this week to get these tides and although the winds were constant, everything became quite manageable under the almost perfectly blue skies that emerged on our last four days. We saw and had shots at lots of fish and lots of big fish. The bones we saw were mostly singles and doubles at first, then as the week wore on, we saw more small schools ranging from 4-6 fish. The average fish we caught was 3-4 lbs., but we saw many and caught a few much bigger fish.

We found bones coming on fast through cuts or sneaking up behind us catching us off guard. We saw fish hundreds of feet ahead and missed fish that were only yards away. We saw bones in inches of water tailing in impossibly shallow areas that saw our flies land on dry hummocks having been carried a bit off target by the wind. But best of all, we often saw large singles and doubles cruising along the mangrove edges or weaving in and out of the bushes. This is as good as it gets with bonefishing. In these situations, you might have to wait for the fish to reemerge from the back of a bush to give you a small casting lane between two bushes. Your cast must then be precise and quiet which is very difficult to accomplish given our windy conditions. But if you made a good cast, we saw fish race to our fly. These fish often tailed to eat our flies while our hearts raced in anticipation. This is followed by either elation or dissapointment depending on if you “DID IT RIGHT!’. We screwed up in a hundred different ways and yet through it all had great victories.

We rarely searched long for a shot and even managed to put a fair number in the boat. It was fun... a hell of a lot of fun! The rest of the week buzzed by and before we knew it, it was time to go. Another week would have been great. The routine we adopted of up at dawn, in the boats after breakfast, fish hard all day, enjoy each other’s company at night followed by a good night’s sleep only to get up and do it all again, is a rejuvenating experience.

John and Anna Riggs celebrate their anniversary on Friday. Their guide Ezra Thomas details the number of people involved.
My many thanks to John and Anna Riggs, Scott Sawtelle, Mike Schwartz and Steve Peskoe for a great time. And to our guides Sidney, Ezra and Greg... you guys are the best. And a special thanks to Kay, our cook and hostess, we look forward to our next visit!