Posts Tagged ‘bonefish


Kiritimati in the morning…


fly fishers chasing bonefish & trevally walk to the boats to meet their guides and head out to the flats… A nice recollection, of late, when Winter keeps blowing Springtime into the distance.


Christmas Island (Kiritimati)

on the approach, flying in over the flats. This was from a trip in 2009, but I still marvel at the surreal experience on this tropical island.



Walking into the sunrise…

Early morning on Christmas Island (Kiritimati) headed into the rising sun and the flats boats/guides to chase Bonefish and Trevally.



Surreal South Sea…

on a flat on Christmas Island, near Paris, searching for Bonefish.

a Flat-Christmas Is-clouds-boat-SwittersB


Christmas Island early morn…….

Christmas Island-early morning-fishing boats-photography-SwittersB-


Fly Fishing: The Flat…Surreal World

Christmas Is Flats crop SwittersB

Examples of Christmas Island Flats in the Lagoon area.

Flats and Deep SB C.I.

flat clouds SB

On the flat. This perfectly clear water may be 6″ deep or mid thigh deep, influenced by tides. It seems one could see anything on this flat that can extend out hundreds of yards. I often had no difficulty seeing Black Tip Reef Sharks cruising toward me. But seeing the Bonefish, for me, was a difficult exercise. Seeing movement, the movement of a shadow not the actual fish was hard to grasp at first.

Here are a couple articles that helpfully explain the preparation and realities of chasing the ‘grey ghost’…the Bonefish. 


Photo: Pine Island Angler Note the shadow beneath the fish. This is what you often notice on the flat. The shadow moving across the bottom, singularly or with luck a pod. Looking for one or two shadows moving is harder. The wind often kicks up to disturb the surface and further complicate the sighting. Of course, accomplished guides make all the difference. Sunglasses! Do not scrimp. Research and buy the best!!!

The flat and the adjoining depths are a surreal sensory experience. It is hard to explain the colors, the angles, the sky, the wind, the power of the fish. Unique experience in my fly fishing travels.

Boat Flat C.I. SwittersB Photography

This is your taxi. The boat is guided up onto the edge of the flat and you climb out onto the platform and down stairs onto the flat.


Going to the Edge of the Flat

In 2007, I traveled with friends to Christmas Island. I have written about the preparation and suggestions I thought of after the trip (query Christmas Island in the search box to the right). I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, much like you enjoy difficult events years later…only remembering the high points.

Standing on a flat gazing out toward the outer barriers and the edge of the flat, the darker aqua colored water. Deeper off the edge, it is the source of what creatures decide to cruise the flat in search of prey. The search for movement, shadows and contrast consumes the eyes as the relentless wind batters your ears. SwittersB

My only regret was not having more of an opportunity to have my catches recorded by the guide. Few wanted to put forth the effort to capture the events. I was often fishing alone and unable to juggle the camera and the fish. These days, you have gizmo’s like the Go Pro Hero (my son has one of these) that can capture the events, while perched atop your head.


Bonefish Tailing (a surreal recollection)

Fish Tailing

Fish Tailing

I have written here a few times about my Christmas Island adventure. I had not been in that environment before and may never again. It was bizarre dozens of times over. I cannot put into words the images and spatial adjustments your vision and mind have to try to adjust to. It is, by virtue of never ending horizons, a tilting, catawhompus world.

The above picture by no means is related to a salt flat, but it made me think of standing with a guide facing outward toward the edge of the flat, as the light sand gave way to the blue abyss. I saw nothing. The guide stared out seeing or sensing something through those copper colored lens. And, then they were there.  A dozen pointy tails lined across my path some fifty feet out. The tails were sticking up out of the water ever so slightly and the bonefish were nose down feeding…  A surreal scene of contrasts, wind, shimmer and life.

The Tail

The Tail

I was instructed to carefully cast before the fish and not on top of the fish. As much as you can judge distance so easily on a stream or lake and plop that fly down where you want, on the flat I was never sure if that was really fifty feet, one hundred feet or shorter. This time, I fought the wind and succeeded in placing the fly before the approaching, feeding bones. The take was immediate and the run was beyond description for speed and power. I have tried to explain what that is like compared to my freshwater experiences, but nothing compares for speed or power (by size). The bonefish screamed out so quickly toward the deep and then down and down until the leader was cut from the coral.

My lasting memory from that moment was the fish yes, but really those bobbing tails out of the water just enough to excite and bring the stealth mode out, always enter my mind.  It was like casting to the rising trout or the stillwater fish up in the shallows picking off damsels from the reeds. The stalking is the same.     



Bone Fish Flats (warm wind and surreal visions)



Today, it is snowing and getting colder this week. I don’t feel up to gearing up and venturing out. I got the lights up today as the snow started. The steelhead are in. As I looked at this pic from a year ago, I recalled the warmth, the wind, and the amazing visual assault of the flats. As if on some psychedelic cocktail, I recall the way a seemingly flat body of water, with nary a bump higher than a foot, can tilt and slant and climb. Are you hallucinating? Fatigue perhaps? Ill fitting sunglasses don’t help. I found it so fascinating to stand in knee deep water staring for the moving shadow and at the same time always have a sense that you are standing upon or walking upon anything but a ‘flat’. Anyway, that warm water and wind would feel good about now.    


Flyfish Christmas Island (Obsess, Plan & Tie Anyway)

Your ride awaits at the edge

Your ride awaits at the edge

3 likely suspects

3 likely suspects

This is like Part IV of my Christmas Island series, like I am an expert after one trip. No, hardly, and that is the point. I made some planning mistakes prior to going…not big mistakes but waste of time mistakes and I did not efficiently tie flies in preparationtion for the trip. I read everything I could and talked to several fly shops and came away with ‘you are a long ways from no where and you better be prepared because you won’t be able to find anything you might need once you are there.’  

I tied all manner of Bonefish flies in all colors and primarily in sizes 6 & 8. I tied for weeks. Moana’s Chili Pepper, Moana’s Banana Peel, Gotcha’s, George Bush’s, Crazy Charlies, Deceiver’s and Christmas Island Specials. I had giant flies for Giant Trevally (I only caught smaller ones, still fun). I had back up boxes of flies in case my partners needed them.

Now again, I am no expert on Christmas Island, but a little anxiety and humble pie helped me identify a few trends that held true for me and my group: Number One fly the whole time was a size 6 Christmas Island Special closely followed by a size 6 Christmas Island Special. Number Three was a size 6 White Gotcha with pearl krystal flash. I tried to insert Moana’s Chili Pepper because I thought it looked damn good and I had tied at least a dozen of them. Nope, when I came under the gaze of the guide, had I wandered off by myself and tied on something besides the CIS, he would immediately look at my non-Christmas Island Special fly and nip it off and attach a, you guessed it size 6 Christmas Island Special (pink). So, that was those guides and that was then.

So here is your predicament: Listen to my advice and go equipped with plenty of Christmas Island Specials and you may run into the guide whose uncle, some famous guide, ties the Coral Crusher. Do you have any? Heck, you say, I never heard of it. I only tied Christmas Island Specials because some bozo said I did not need anything else. See the predicament? You have to tie all those possible flies you might need in size 6 & 8. Some 6-8 dozen flies is my guess. Now here is the deal. You rarely lose flies. So, unless you plan on providing flies to others, you don’t really need all those dozens and dozens of flies. Do you research at shops that have employees that have been to Christmas Island, not Belize or Bahamas (save that for your next dream trip). Tie or buy what they suggest. I did enjoy the prep and tying and all. It is just disconcerting when hours of creative effort is ignored by the guides…..course that is their job. But, be a little stubborn. Use that damn Moana’s Chili Pepper if you damn well want to. If you cannot quickly cast fifty feet of line with a 12′ leader in a 20 mph cross wind then make a few decisions out there and adjust to what the heck you can do, otherwise it is a bit too much being dependent for my taste. Almost time to start planning the Winter trips you’re thinking. You have probably put your money down by now with rest due in a month or so. Before you know it, you will be up to your elbows in krystal flash, saltwater hooks, dumbbell eyes and stick on pupils, a little craft hair and tying up a storm. Oh hell, go ahead over due it. You are a gear junky anyway.        

Do take the extra floating line and definitely the extra rod(s) and reel(s). And, as I have constantly said each time: THE BEST SUNGLASSES YOU CAN AFFORD, OR EVEN CAN’T AFFORD. 

Oh, do not be shy of having someone taking pictures of your fish. The guides had received advice from some US guide that the fish should never be touched or removed from the water. Each Bone I caught was immediately slipped from the fly with this nifty little hook remover they all carried. I did not get one photo of some of the gorgeous 24″+ Bones I caught. I didn’t catch many but not one memory because of the  adherence to the typical over reactive crap put out about handling fish. Again, I know how to handle fish, save your breath, it is the extreme to which every admonition must be taken (except my sunglasses admonition!). So, either have that guide take a picture if they are saavy enough (most are) or hopefully a compadre is not on the other side of the flat and can snap a memory. And, yes I poked a small hole in the coating of that line…small. 

A Memory

A Memory

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August 2020

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