Pacific Angler is Heading Back to Christmas Island!
We are Hosting 2 Dates in 2020!
Matt and Zach are Hosting March 18-25 (On Island) New Moon GT Tide (Travel – Mar 16 – 24, 2020 )
Jordan is Hosting November 15 – 25 (On Island) New Moon GT Tide (Remembrance Day)
PRICE OF TRIP: $3500USD + Flights and Gratuities (See bottom of email for “what is included” details on the accounting, and how to reserve a spot)
If you have traveled on one of our past trips you know the background on Christmas Island – When you look at travel time, epic fishing, crazy species, and the all-round value of CXI (Christmas Island) it is unparalleled. I won’t bore you with the details. Email me if you can make it!
Pacific Angler will be handling the deposit process this year (3rd world country accounting was a little interesting last year) So when you email to confirm your spot we will send you info on how to get in your deposit and info on how to book your flights and hotel in Hawaii.
If you haven’t traveled with us before to CXI and would like to read more details on the program that we have custom built over the last 4 years, check out the report below but before you get reading watch this short video we put together from our 2018 trip. It sums up this epic location well.
CXI – An Honest Review of an Epic Location (2020 update)
Less spelling mistakes – more info
Christmas Island is one of the most famous flats fishing destinations in the world. It offers top tier bonefishing for all skill levels but also has an amazing diversity of other species. The diversity is what we love about the fishery and I can honestly say it is as good as it gets in warm water fishing. You will feel as though you are fishing in an aquarium.
The best quote from one our first trip in 2017 was “What kind of fish is that? I don’t know? Cast at it and let’s find out!!”
4 years later we have learned a bunch, but this quote still sums up the experience well. The variety of fish species and fishing environments is spectacular, providing challenges for flats anglers of all levels. On our last trip we hit over 40 species and the amount of action is incredible. The flats on all our trips have always been alive with fish. On most warm water fly fishing trips you will run into long stretches without action and flats that seem void of life. This can last hours even days. It is just part of the game.
We have experienced slow times on our trips to CXI but they were few and far between. The “good times” seemed to have a constant stream of fish moving across the flats. Sometimes they are not your target species (you will learn to curse at these fish) but the flats are always alive. You never know what you will see next.
Bone Fishing in Christmas Island – For Beginners 9/10 For Experts 7/10
As the species most popular among flats anglers, a large portion of your trip can be spent focusing on the grey ghost of the flats. In CXI there are a bloody ton of bonefish. This last trip saw very consistent number days for all our anglers. We did not run into as many fish as 2018 but we did catch some larger fish on this trip. If you focus on bones, double digit days are very possible. 1 to 2 lb fish are common with a 3-4 lb fish being special but the interesting thing about the CXI flats that surprised me is that true monsters also inhabit the same waters as the plentiful “small” fish. Like I said on our last trip our numbers were a little down from 2018 but we ran across a number of fish in the 5-8lb range.
Most fisheries can’t make this claim. If there are tons of bonefish they will all be small and if the fish are huge, anglers can expect much lower numbers. CXI is different. If you are only looking for monster bonefish, CXI is not for you. There are better destinations. But if you can enjoy the plentiful smaller fish, use them to hone your skills, you will still have shots at truly world class fish if you put in the time.
Bonefish in the 5-9lb range were encountered almost every day. Most fisheries can’t make this claim. If there are tons of bonefish they will all be small and if the fish are huge, anglers can expect much lower numbers. CXI is different. If you are only looking for just monster bonefish, CXI is not for you. There are better destination. But if you can enjoy the plentiful smaller fish, use them to hone your skills, you will still have shots at truly world class fish if you put in the time.
Side Note on Bonefish – If you are an expert, spend the week honing your skills, catch a ton of fish and a ton of other species then hit Hawaii with Captain Mike or one of his A team guides on your trip home for the biggest most challenging bonefishing in the world.
(Rant on Bonefish Size) When I talk about bone fish size in this report, I do not take lb ratings lightly. For many anglers you will hear them talk about 10lb fish but I have learned from embarrassing experience that when a scale is present, many of the 10lb bonefish you hear anglers talk about are 6-7lb fish. Take this into consideration when comparing notes on other locations and my lb rating for CXI bonefish. Pictures of our 6-8lb fish from this last trip have been consistently overestimated as 10lb fish by many anglers who have fished other bonefish locations. (Rant Over)
Trigger Fish – Beginner Rating 7/10 Expert Rating 9/10
Most anglers that travel to CXI think they are going for the bonefish but many quickly realize how much fun targeting trigger fish is. For many anglers by the end of the trip they are 100% focused on these toothy, painfully smart, shockingly dirty fighting fish.
Every year we get more dialed in on the triggers and in 2019 we put up some pretty epic numbers. How we fish for them and the strategies that we have learned at Ikari are one of the things that makes Ikari stand out from the other lodges.
What is a trigger fish? There are a number of species (I think 3 major ones in CXI) that range in color and size but they make and live in holes in the coral and use a trigger, a bone in their dorsal fin, to lodge themselves into the hole when being attacked by a predator or when escaping an angler. They are famous for their massive teeth.
These teeth are for crushing the shells of their prey and for cutting out holes in coral. For the angler they mean flies destroyed in ways you have never seen before and an obsessive challenge to get the fish hooked.
The reason many CXI anglers become obsessed with triggers is simple. In a number of ways, they are an easy species to target. You can see them from a long way off on the flats. The anticipation when stalking up to a large trigger tailing in shallow water is something special.
They also tend to hold in one area, feeding for extended periods of time. Unlike bonefish or other species that cruise across a flat, if you see a trigger 100 yards out you can slowly work your way in his direction knowing that there is a good chance he will still be there when you reach the spot where you saw him.
This means that anglers get lots of action. We have had times where you could see 20 or more triggers feeding over a 200-yard stretch of flat. You could bounce from one fish to the next trying to fool them. From talking with very experienced traveling anglers they all believe that CXI offers one of the densest population of triggers in the world.
This is where the easy part of trigger fishing ends. When you get in a trigger’s zone (150 ft radius) you will have to move carefully. They are very spooky of both loud wading and poor casts. When you are in range choosing the right cast to get close enough to the fish so he will notice the fly but not spook is a true dance with nature, taking into consideration currents, depths and ultimately the fish’s behavior.
Now if you get all this all right and the trigger sees your fly without being spooked he usually comes for the fly on a hell bent mission to kill. The only problem is his teeth. The hook-set has to be timed perfectly along with a ton of luck to get the hook to hold and not bounce off the trigger’s teeth. Oh, and that is just getting one hooked up.
Once you are hooked up hold on and fight dirty. Triggers pull like a freight train and will go for holes, coral edges and anything they can find to rub the hook out of their mouth. You will never see a fish fight so dirty and if you want to land one you are going to have to do the same. Long story short if you travel to CXI you are going to get lots of action targeting triggers but landing one is a true challenge and can turn into an obsession.
Smaller Trevally Species – Beginner rating 8/10 Expert rating 7/10
If you travel to CXI, another species you will hear a lot about is GTs or Giant Trevally. I will get to them in a second, but you don’t hear a ton about their smaller cousins the blue fin, bar Jacks and a whole laundry list of the other smaller predatory species that roam the flats.
You can cast bonefish flies at these 1-8lb fish and they feed like a pack of wild dogs when you run across them on the flats. You will get opportunities almost every day and they make for a ton of fun breaking up slower stretches of bonefishing or targeting triggers.
GTs – Beginner Rating 4/10 Expert rating 8/10
GTs or Giant trevally are another major focus for anglers traveling to CXI and first off we have to admit that GTs are hard. We see Gts almost every day but getting in front of these massive fish and then getting them to bite is another story.
In 2017 we hooked only a handful of “real” Gts (Fish over 15lbs small ones are fun but don’t count?. In 2018 we hooked a bunch of big Gts and on this last trip our numbers were a little down from 2018 but still respectable. In 2019 We had picked tides that were more conducive to bones and triggers. This Year both trips are on larger new moon tide cycles and we are excited to chase the big boys!
If the smaller trevally are a pack of rabid dogs the GT is a lethal, efficient wolf. I will be very up front, there are probably better destinations in the world to specifically target GTs but if you are determined and a little lucky, hooking one at CXI is very possible. There is nothing like seeing a 30+lb fish pushing a V wake of water over a flat. I can almost grantee you will witness this if you come with us to CXI but I can’t grantee you will have time to get a fly in front of it when it come blasting over the flats.
Milk Fish – Beginner Rating 7/10 expert rating 8/10
The last species that you will want to spend some time targeting at CXI is the milk fish. These guys are very cool. They swim in massive schools in deep water only a few minutes’ boat ride from the front of the lodge. They are a vegetarian species so getting them to bite a fly is a massive challenge. That said we have hooked a bunch and how a program that is proven to consistently work if nature lines up right. The fight with these fish is something else. Long powerful runs, tarpon-esc jumps all on light tackle make them a challenge. I don’t recommend spending hours chasing them. Seeing hundreds of fish in front of you that don’t always bite can be a little frustrating, but you will want to take a shot at it when the tides are not right for flats fishing.
OFF SHORE TUNA MAYHEM
We have had trips where the tuna fishing has either not been a focus or we have struck out so you need to go into it with an open mind. This last trip we nailed it but before I get into the details you need an overview of “off Shore” fishing in CXI.
When you hear off shore fishing most anglers think of long painful boat runs. In CXI you are in 5000 feet of water within sight of shore. We have hit tuna insight of the lodge! There are a ton of off-shore species and you never know what you will hit. We troll conventional gear. Pacific Angler packs this gear on each trip and then we troll fly rods in the spread for some added fun. This may not be for everyone. We tailor make everyone’s trip so you can opt out of an off-shore morning if trolling is not for you but if you go in with an open mind it is a very cool experience. We only go for 2-4 hours and we try to time it when the flats fishing tides are off or the weather is not right.
On our last trip the first off-shore group got an off-shore slam – Wahoo, tuna and sailfish in under 3 hours. This is Crazy! We did a couple more off shore mornings during the week and on one of the outings the boat could barely make it on step because of the weight of tuna on board. Every trip brought home a great haul of fish that fed the locals and proved a sashimi feast each night that would put the highest end sushi joints in Vancouver to shame.
Facilities, Equipment and Staff – 8/10
This is one of the most critical aspects of a successful trip. We stay at Ikari House situated right at the mouth of the lagoon. There are some other great operations on the island but in terms of location with run times to both the outside of the lagoon, the lagoon and the back of the lagoon or “back country”, Ikari is the best situated. Barring crazy tides, the boats pick you up from right in front of the lodge and they are the most modern boats on the island. This simply means more fishing time and less time in cars bouncing over the unpaved roads.
All of the accommodations on the island are rustic. You have to go into any exotic fishing trip with this in the back of your mind and manage expectations. That said the staff at Ikari house understand what fisherman need. The air-conditioned double rooms are spacious and laid out perfectly for your gear. The outdoor lounge area turns into a wonderful hodgepodge of fishing gear, fly tying vises and is where we spend most of our time when not fishing; telling stories, fixing gear, getting ready for the next day.
The staff is great and will take care of laundry and keep the rooms clean. Everyday laundry is a huge win and cuts way down on what you need to pack. If you are an experienced flats angler, you could give the basic accommodations a 8 to 8.5 out of ten rating. If you are a flats fishing rookie, make sure to come into it with an open mind and take my word for it that in such a remote area the accommodations are excellent.
Food, again it is nothing to write home about but that said every meal was good and had enough options that everyone could find something they liked. Also we pack in some key essentials from Hawaii to add to the table fair. Again, if you have traveled with me before we have experienced some truly bad meals. The team who went with me to Cuba in 2007 and shared goat and rabbit for 6 days straight were all real troopers. The food at Ikari in comparison is way better and again on the remote fishing destination scale gets a solid 8 out of 10. If you like sashimi and our off-shore trips are successful it will be the best Tuna you will ever eat and when looking at Vancouver sushi $ rates you could almost pay for your trip.
Will boats break down? Yes, it is almost unavoidable in a 3rd world remote destination but the boats at Ikari are the best boats on the island. The top 4 boats are Panga style with plenty of room. The backup boats are classic outrigger style boats and though they are very slow it is a very comfortable ride. We utilize the fast boats when going off–shore or across the lagoon and allows us to hit spots way faster than the other lodges (They don’t have fast boats). The outrigger boats are used for comfy rides to the closer London side flats.
Things you will need to consider
You will need to be in relatively good shape for this trip. Almost all of the fishing in CXI in done on foot. I personally love fishing from foot and in many ways, it is easier than fishing from a skiff but it does take a toll on the body. After the first 3 days of walking I was still fine and had no problems but on day 5 and 6 you will be surprised at how your feet get sore, embarrassing rashes form and how exhausted you will feel. This trip is not for someone with mobility issues and even experienced flats anglers are going to be bagged at the end of the trip.
Emergency Health Care – We also ask that everyone get medical evac insurance. It is a must for CXI because the local healthcare is very limited. We need proof of this insurance for you to travel with us. Take this into consideration if you have any health concerns before traveling. https://www.globalrescue.com
Now in all my reviews I try to play devil’s advocate and look at the downsides of a trip only to make sure we are all coming on the trip with fare expectations. Your expectations for CXI can be high. Mine are. But you will hear the negatives.
“It can be crowded.” CXI does get a relatively large number of anglers each year and it has been happening for almost 20 years. I have fished flats in other locations where fishing pressure was literally zero and though I know how pressure can affect a fishery the CXI fishery has matured in many ways. Meaning there is a good number of great guides who understand it on a level that you won’t see on the untouched “new” fisheries around the globe simply because the guides do not have enough seasons on the water.
A good experienced team of guides can shuffle, bounce and ultimately predict what is going to happen to get in front of the fish and other anglers at the right time to make sure you have excellent fishing. The guides at Ikari know how to play this game. Ikari is considered one of, if not the “best” guiding job on the island in terms of equipment and wage. With this in mind is common sense that the best guides will go for the best job. It is one of the reasons we don’t go to other lodges where you might experience a much less experienced thinly spread guide team.
Overall on the pressure front, I have seen other anglers on the water but I never felt as though pressure played a big game in limiting our fishing.
“All the bonefish are small” – I touched on this above and though there have been times on past trips were I was spoiled and caught so many relatively small bonefish that I got bored – Just about the time I came to the conclusion that “all the bonefish on the CXI flats were small” I would come across of school of hungry 5 lb fish or a single monster pushing the 7-10lb range.
“The accommodations are terrible” – Yes if you are a 5 star hotel connoisseur that has never roughed it on a fishing trip or stayed in a motel 6 near a cool steelhead river, then yes, you are allowed to call the accommodations whatever you like. If this is you, I will let you in on a little secret- you are missing out on some epic fishing destinations that have low end accommodations. I loved the accommodations at Ikari, have stayed in way worse and can’t wait to be back sitting on the beach in front of the lodge drinking a beer, watching the surf.
Are there locations in the world where you can find better numbers of larger bonefish? Absolutely but you might go hours without seeing fish and these destinations rarely offer the diversity of species seen in CXI that keep you interested until the trophy fish swims past. Are there places with less angling pressure? Absolutely but these places might have guides who can’t think outside the box, don’t have the experience to make great guide decisions and you are probably going to have a hell of a travel schedule to get there.
Are there places with better accommodations? I have to say yes to this one too but when looking at the ease of travel time from the west coast, relative cost of the trip and the combination of excellent fish numbers mixed with some trophy sized bonefish, Gts that are consistently spotted roaming the flats and a population of triggers that is one of the largest in the world – CXI is a trip that any flats fisherman needs to put on his bucket list. Weather it’s your first trip or 100th trip you will have an experience that will blow you away.
Thanks for reading my long winded badly spelled review. I hope you liked it and it helps you make an educated decision, whether a trip to CXI is for you. Call me at the shop at 604-872-2204 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.