Peninsula Fly Fishers

Christmas Island Bonefishing

As a young adolescent growing up in Central LA I often daydreamed about the early Cook discovery voyages to the South Pacific while my teachers droned on about fractions and decimal points. Last month I fished Christmas Island and those long ago images returned as fresh as can be. Emerald lagoons and indigo skies.Palm trees bending gracefully in the trade winds. Small billowy clouds drifting low overhead leaving a patchwork of shades across the water surface. Waking up early each morning to the sound of cocks crowing. Domestic pigs rooting through the yards of the villagers. Bright laundry waving in the sea breeze beneath the draping palms. Children riding bicycles in the rain on the way to school. Land crabs scurrying along the roads with claws extended, ready to do battle. Magnificent frigate birds soaring like vultures overhead.

What drew me to Christmas Island - were the bonefish. Most fisherman are attracted to saltwater fishing by the speed, violence, and savageness of the gamefish. Bonefishing is not like that. To me, the most endearing quality of a bonefish is its mystery. Their gray images appear in the distance and you are never sure that you are seeing a fish. At times the fish will disappear before your very eyes. At other times the fish will go unnoticed until it�s at your very feet. Up close, I would swear the fish, with its upright vision, is looking straight into my eyes. You hold your breath and watch in perfect stillness, for any movement will send him off. Bonefishing requires long periods of intense concentration. And, of course, it�s the concentration that drives the demons out and leaves you in a state of well being.

Matt was my favorite guide. Without knowing it he taught me how to play, what I termed, the endgame. The endgame is the final series of jerks, twitches, pauses, slow or long strips you impart to your crazy charlie to induce the fish to take the fly. The endgame is, to me, the best part of bonefishing. And the greatest thing about the endgame is that it always changes because each fish reacts differently to the fly. There is no formula and it never gets boring. Matt changed his tactics with each fish and I learned from the master.

Every trip is punctuated and later remembered by an unexpected adventure. This one occurred at Submarine Flat. One afternoon my guide and I almost stumbled upon a tailing bonefish before I saw him. A fortunate delivery placed the fly a couple of feet from him, and, after a couple of twitches, he was on. The fish bolted and roared off the flat into the deep water. Next thing I know, he�s back, screaming across the flat in 2 inches of water with a four foot black tipped reef shark in hot pursuit. Their dorsal fins formed rooster tails as they sliced the water surface. I released the drag on the reel as the shark started to close in. Meanwhile, Ari, the guide, grabbed a chunk of coral and hurled it at the shark. Miraculously, it fell between the two fish with a loud splash. In the turmoil and excitement the shark lunged forward, bit into the coral, and then slowly swam off. I reeled in my fish and resuscitated him. He had a few teeth marks and missing scales from his back and sides but looked as though he would survive the ordeal.

Igor Doncov

Peninsula Fly Fishers 1976-2021
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