Christmas Island Detailed E-mail
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 00:00

IMGP0273 There we were, sitting in the lodge offering up a fine single malt scotch to the locals. In exchange we were offered some local toddy, coconut sap left out to ferment in its own natural yeasts. So far the trip had been a success and we were in celebration mode. Allen asked me, "Where do you want to go to next, Boogie?" The same question, when posed aboard a kayak fishing mothership in the Sea of Cortez 3 years ago, was the start of this incredible adventure. Christmas Island has made a name for itself as a fly fishing bonefish destination, but we were here to kayak fish for the large Giant Trevally (GT's as they are commonly known) that feast on baitfish that stray off the flats.

Christmas Island, the largest coral atoll in the world, lies 1,337 miles south of Hawaii (a 3 hour flight) and just 144 miles north of the equator. The inner lagoon is 120 square miles, so large that from London Point you cannot see the other side as it dips below the horizon. The incredible network of ponds and flats is a nursery that feeds the surrounding waters, offering up an endless bounty of food. This beautiful maze of is a protected sanctuary and breeding grounds for many species, in addition to ever-plentiful bonefish, there are large schools of milkfish, a staple foodfish for the locals and marauding packs of predators. The bonefish themselves are an incredible gamefish. It is interesting to note that a kayak doesn't offer a distinct advantage as IMGP0295 a platform from which to target the bonefish. However, a kayak is a very effective means to travel the flats, often standing up on the Diablo Adios' to spot the schools. Once a concentration is found, anglers dismount the kayaks and wade the flats while towing them. Whether fly fishing or tossing small grubs on medium-light spinning outfits, 20-30 fish sessions on 4-6 pound bonefish, with the occasional larger specimen, are the norm.

However, as stated, GT's are the premier target for kayak anglers. Three distinct methods have proven deadly in bringing GT's to hand. The first method, and the most exciting, is tossing large 4-6 ounce surface poppers over the reefs fringing the atoll. Working the poppers hard solicits vicious strikes from GT's streaking out from their cavernous hiding spots in the coral. Medium to large sized GT's in the 30-50 pounds range are the norm when employing this technique. To fish this method efficiently, large 50# class spinning outfits, capable of lobbing heavy poppers are employed. And 50-80' topshots of 80 pound mono are necessary as abrasion resistance against the sharp coral. Here, the kayaks definitely shined, allowing access to some of the more shallow reefs than the local powered watercraft is able to get to. The only downside is that tossing large poppers from the seated position for hours on end is extremely tiring, but all that is forgotten when you feel the powerful rush of a GT's first run.

IMGP0407 The second technique commonly deployed is chum and bait. The guides set out early in the morning to wrap net milkfish, which are then cut into chunks and chummed at the edge of the flats. This essentially rings the dinner bell for any nearby GT's. While drifting a cutbait in the chum slick proves effective, smaller surface poppers, spoons, and plastic swimbaits are tossed into the fray with great success. Indeed, GT's pushing the 100 pound mark are landed. The same gear used for popping is employed here, with the heavy topshot proving necessary, as the hooked GT's weave in and out of the surrounding coral heads. The downside to this technique as a kayak fishery is that it is often done on pancake flats out in the open of the bay. Here the winds can pick up with no nearby lee. Therefore it is easier to just set up on the flat and fish from the wading position.

Jigging is the third technique, in waters 80-120' deep, deploying 4-7 ounce irons. Deep water jigging is often used on Christmas to target the numerous species of snappers and other reef fish. These fish are part of the staple diet on the island, so many are kept to provide a tasty meal at the end of the day. When jijgging deep for snappers, a handful of GT's are still hooked. Jigging provides a means to use lighter tackle than the 50# gear used in the other techniques. Here, 30 pound conventional outfits are common, and sporty. IMGP0405 Don't be afraid to change it up either with different jigging styles. Work closer to the bottom, and you'll catch more snappers and the occasional GT. You can also expect to snag up more, and get rocked by a few larger fish. Work higher up in the water column, and you'll catch fewer snappers, but more GT's. Or, use a yo-yo style of jigging, dropping to the bottom then reeling as fast as you can. In this case, fish are drawn off the bottom or encountered suspended in the water column. In either case the hookup usually happens well off the bottom and away from the rocks, decreasing your chances of getting "holed" by the fish.

At the 300 foot ledge, the water quickly drops off in excess of a thousand feet in a matter of yards. The locals anchor up on this ledge on small outrigger canoes the size of the kayaks, and start a chum slick. They employ the traditional technique of "dropping stone" using handlines. Using this technique, a stone is wrapped up in a banana leaf with more chum and a chunk of bait with a hook embedded in it. It is then lowered into the water. When the desired depth is reached, a quick tug releases the stone, the chum, and the hooked bait. This technique is the primary technique used by the locals, and a deadly one at that. On any given day, the local will land a number of 60-80 pound yellowfin tuna while the kayak fishermen watch in awe. If you're out here, it's time to gear back up the 50 pound outfit. And don't be surprised is sailfish drops by and ruins the party. They've been known to pick up the jig, then promptly spit it back at a stunned kayak angler. Disappointing, yet exciting!

The remoteness of Christmas Island means that there are few other kayak fishing opportunities in the world that can match the experience. In many ways, since only a handful of kayak fishing trips have been run here, the kayak angling opportunities have barely been uncovered so far. You can fish a different style of fishing every day of the week and be left wanting more. If you're ready for a kayak fishing pilgrimage, visit http://ChristmasIslandKayakFishing.com for more information.

 

 

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