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Two subscribers, Jim Vogel and Jim Simcoke, have checked in with very positive reports on fishing Christmas Island this past fall. Vogel, who has been visiting Christmas Island since 1994, fished for a month from September 16 to October 13. Simcoke arrived a week after Vogel departed and stayed for a week. Both anglers booked through Frontiers International and both stayed at the Captain Cook, which they rate as fair. Both anglers also fished with Nareau, and they both rate his guiding ability as excellent.
Vogel tells us that his month’s catch was between 500 and 600 bone- fish up to eight pounds, plus seven triggerfish up to about seven pounds and a number of trevally. He says he’s particularly fond of catching golden trevally. He landed three, he says, the largest around 11 pounds. He also landed three giant trevally (GTs), the largest around 40 pounds. He would have been able to say he caught a much larger one if, while chumming for GTs, he had not handed his rod to his guide to make a cast or two. Nareau promptly hooked and landed a GT they estimated at 70 pounds.
Interestingly, Vogel also reports seeing a number of Pacific sailfish from one of the boats used to transport anglers to the flats. He had no luck getting them to strike, however, though a companion landed an estimated 85-pounder.
As for Simcoke, he reports having two 40-plus-bonefish days and three 30-plus-fish days. He landed several fish over five pounds, with at least four of those weighing seven pounds or more. He also reports catching some giant trevally: “I concentrated on bonefish, but I would throw at GTs when I saw larger ones on the flats.”
Simcoke tells us he was, quite literally, the only angler on the island. “The manager and staff at the hotel were very friendly,” he writes. “I had the hotel’s best guide every day and I had the flats to myself.”
Vogel gives the cost of his month-long sojourn as $9,000 and he sums up the experience this way: “Great fishing, great weather, wonderful islanders. I know I sound like a broken record, but if you like bonefishing, this is as good as it gets. I’ve been to Seychelles, but I keep going back to Christmas Island.”
Simcoke tells us his week cost about $3,000 in total, noting that flights to Honolulu were relatively cheap as well. He calls his Christmas Island experience the best bonefishing he’s ever done. “The experience was well worth the time and money involved,” he writes.
Vogel and Simcoke both comment on the chartered, propeller-driven Gulfstream I that took them to Christmas Island. “Although my trip went smoothly, some of my friends had nightmares with this service,” says Vogel, who was there when the American Samoa earthquake and tsunami warning disrupted service all across the South Pacific.
Simcoke, for his part, remarks on the smallness of the plane and the length of the flight (4½ hours) from Honolulu. He had no major complaints about the service, however, saying captain and co-pilot were both friendly and pleasant. In a follow-up phone call, he surmised that the need to take a small, slow, propeller-driven plane with limited luggage capacity was one of the reasons he had the whole island to himself for a week.
Both Simcoke and Vogel passed along rumors about the imminent return of jet service to Christmas Island. “The runway is repaired and we’ll hopefully see jet service in the very near future,” says Vogel. Simcoke added: “I’ve been told jet service will resume from Honolulu after the first of the year. That will reduce flight time by about 50 percent.”
(Postscript: The question of jet service looms large in the minds of many anglers contemplating a trip to Christmas Island, so we put in a few calls to see what we could find out. At press time, Flywater Travel told us they were hearing the same rumors Vogel and Simcoke were hearing. Flywater Travel does all the booking for Christmas Island Outfitters, one of the four lodging properties available to anglers on the island. “Like everyone else, we hear the rumors, but there are no tickets on sale as of mid-December,” said Flywater’s Rachel Andras. “That makes it very unlikely that service will resume in January.”
Howard McKinney, who books The Villages for Fishabout, cautions against focusing only on Air Pacific, the firm everyone expects to step up to the plate. “While Air Pacific had the service before and may indeed have the inside track, at least three other carriers have bids in on the route,” McKinney says. “As far as I know, it has not been determined who the carrier will be. What is important for currently booked anglers to know is that we have assurances from Te Mauri Travel Agency that funds paid toward tickets on the current charter will be passed on to the new company if and when one is selected.”
Joe Koziara, who books Christmas Island and the Captain Cook for Frontiers, reports that the runway is indeed finished and approved but that there’s not likely to be a return of jet service as early in the year as everyone hoped. “We are looking at early April as a likely time frame, but that isn’t confirmed,” he said, going on to note that the lack of jet service may be the best reason of all to get to Christmas Island this winter. “It’s been a year since the government put some real teeth into their anti-netting program, and it’s showing results. The lack of a jet connection from Fiji kept the Aussies and New Zealanders off Christmas Island last summer. At most, 18 anglers a week have been accessing the island since the Gulf- stream went on line. That means the flats haven’t seen a lot of pressure in a long time.”
The bottom line here, if you are willing to put up with a slow, but comfortable, flight and a relatively small baggage allowance, you just might find yourself in the enviable position enjoyed by Jim Simcoke on his trip: the only angler at a world-class destination. Enjoy!)