Fishing on Christmas Island, Part I

Kiritimati (pronounced kiri-si-mas) or Christmas Island is a destination that is on many fly-fishers’ bucket list of places go. So it was for our group of anglers. It is a tiny atoll located about 1,340 miles southwest of Hawaii; it is not an easy destination to get to.

You fly into Kiribati (pronounced kiri-bass). As expected, it is a tiny airport called Cassidy International.

Fly Water Travels organized the trip, which was hosted by Dax Messett of Confluence Outfitters. There are about six lodges on the island and we stayed at Crystal Peak Lodge.

Before making a trip to this remote destination one should be prepared both physically and mentally. There is only one flight into the island a week with Fiji Airlines. The connection for us was from Honolulu. The flight leaves on Tuesday, but when we arrived in Christmas Island it was already Wednesday because we crossed the International Date Line.

Insurance for medical emergencies through an outfit called Global Rescue is considered a must because of the island’s remoteness. Should you have a medical emergency, you can be assured to get the medical attention necessary.

Trip insurance is also a must because there is only one flight in and out of the island, which means if a flight is cancelled, you are stuck on the island for another week.

Christmas Island is a territory of Australia so Australian dollars are the official form of currency, but U.S. dollars are accepted. The economy is strictly cash. You will not need a credit card and there are no ATMs. You will need from $650 to $700 cash for tips, water, soda or beer. If you prefer hard liquor, buy it at the duty-free stores in Honolulu.

After stepping off the plane, you go through customs and pay a $50 fee to secure your fishing license for the duration of your stay.

The people of Christmas Island are friendly and accommodating. Nothing grows on the island, so the people depend on supplies from Tarawa. Supplies during our stay were virtually non-existent due to the fact that their supply ship had sunk and they had no delivery in some time. Fortunately, Fly Water Travel provided a cooler and tub of supplies for our group for the week.

If you do not like to eat fish, you will be hungry on Christmas Island. Yellowfin tuna – both cooked and raw – rice and potatoes were provided every evening.

One other word of caution: there is little fresh water on the island and the water quality is poor. We were advised not to drink the water from the tap so we drank bottled water. Because of this and other issues with cuts and scrapes, it is recommended that you contact your doctor to get antibiotics.

The harsh conditions and spartan accommodations may seem bleak, but the fishing draws you to the island. I will discuss the fishing in the next edition.



Boca Reservoir | The road over the dam is closed until further notice. Inflow is at 143 cfs and the outflow is 98 cfs. Powerbait, nightcrawlers and lures are all working. Fly-fishers have been catching some fish near the inlet with nymphs, streamers and dries.

Donner Lake | Fishing has been fair to good. Kokanee fishing has been fair to good. Nightcrawlers and Powerbait seem to be the main bait. Mackinaw fishing has been good. Fly-fishers are catching some fish with streamers.

Lake Tahoe | Fishing has been fair to good for mackinaw. A guide is highly recommended if you are fishing for mackinaw for the first time. Toplining and shore fishing is fair. Most shore anglers use inflated nightcrawlers.

Little Truckee River | The flow is at 143 cfs. The flows have come down. Nymphing and dries should both work. Hatches are similar to the main Truckee.

Martis Lake | Zero kill. Catch and release only with barbless artificial lures or flies. Fishing is best early in the season and the fall. Smallmouth bass are part of the fishery.

Prosser Reservoir | Fishing has been fair. Anglers using bait, lures and flies have all caught fish. Fly-fishers have done well near the inlet areas. Bass fishing has been fair.

Stampede Reservoir | The road will be closed over the dam for construction this season and next. Access to the boat ramp will be through the Hobart Mills side. Fishing has been fair from shore. Nightcrawlers, Powerbait and lures have all produced from shore. Fly-fishers have been doing well near the inlets with nymphs and streamers. The kokanee fishing has been fair to good. Smallmouth bass fishing has been fair.

Truckee River | The flow out of the dam in Tahoe City is at 1,090 cfs. The flows through Truckee are at 1,191 cfs. While it has come down some, the flow remains high for this time of year. Fishing has been fair for those working hard. Lots of bugs are appearing now. Golden stones and green drakes have been observed; caddis, PMD and little yellow stones should also be on the menu. It’s mostly a nymphing game, but there are fish looking up for dries. Streamers are also good now. This water is special regulation, artificial only with barbless hook. Catch-and-release fishing is encouraged, but an angler may keep two fish with a minimum size of 14 inches during the regular trout season.

Davis and Frenchman lakes | Both are full. Boat, shore and fly anglers are catching fish. Reports from Davis are only fair. Blood midge, callibaetis and small midges are the main insects to imitate subsurface. Damsels are now on the menu at both lakes. Frenchman fishing has been good. Water temperatures in both lakes are beginning to increase: 70 degrees F and higher. Suggest not fishing here again until the fall when the waters cool.

Bruce Ajari

Bruce Ajari is a long-time area fly-fisherman and past president of Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers.