The Villages Lodge – 2018 Mid Year Trip Report

The Fishing

From the reports coming in from groups, it seems like everybody who visited this year had a great trip. The size of bonefish caught was noticeably larger than previous years with plenty in the 4-6lb range, some crackers in the 8lb range and a couple that were the topic of lengthy discussion as to if they broke the magic 10lb mark. Triggers were again the target of many anglers with stories of memorable captures as well some memorable losses. They are certainly a challenging fish to catch but success can be achieved by using the right fly, accurate presentation and a technique that doesn’t spook this fickle species.

GT’s were reported to be very spooky with lots of refusals particularly with the larger specimens. Plenty in the 10-20lb range were landed with the largest I heard about, being about the 50lb mark. There were usual tales of the mishaps and breakoffs and, on one occasion, a lost line due to the backing breaking. Big GT’s will certainly test your patience, casting skills, tackle and knot tying skills. Unfortunately, no photo but  had a report  about a specimen of over 30lb that was caught on an 8wt. This is made even more monumental as the story goes that at one stage, the backing was down to about a dozen turns on the reel spool.

       

Left: Steven Goodman caught this barracuda in a channel in the middle of the lagoon on a popper and spin rod.                   Right: Jon Vogel -good size bonefish caught on the first trip to CXI

         

Sydney Goodman – a cracker Trigger. There are many more photos from the groups on Facebook

Guiding

The expectations of fishermen have increased markedly over the last few years. What was considered adequate service from some of the guides, is no longer adequate. Early finishes and less than fishable locations in the late afternoon are no longer acceptable. The process of improving guiding services has been long and tedious.

Some time ago we came to the realisation that teaching old dogs new tricks was not going to work. This is why we have embarked on a program of training some new talent. Another reason for having more guides, apart from replacements due to natural attrition, is that with the growing popularity of the lodge and having large groups of 16-20, it is important that the guides have rest days and time with their families. Three years ago the first group were trained and it  is good to see Kim, Menty, Patrick, Ian, Tatoa, Ben and Tootene from that group now receiving good reports.

Some of the lesser performing guides have either been or are in the process of being suspended. Lack of interest and not showing up in the morning when rostered are the main reasons for the suspensions. Alcohol consumption still seems to be the main cause of “no shows”. I will take this opportunity to remind everybody not to buy or give beer to the guides. No staff member is allowed to drink on the premises and no guide or boat driver is allowed to drink  while working. If they do, the result is immediate suspension.

This year another 9 potential new guides underwent training. The selection criteria focused on their enthusiasm, language skills, attitude as well as ability. Two have now joined the roster, 4 are being assessed by the head guide and the remaining 3 are going to have some English lessons before being reassessed.

There have been a number of requests to have the services of the same guide for the whole week. The rotational system has been adopted so that no one person can monopolise well known guides  and that way everybody has an equal opportunity to fish with all the guides.

Navy Flat has been a popular location for a few of the guides in the late afternoon when conditions were less than favourable. The area adjacent to the flat has no septic system so the water serves as a toilet. One guest developed a very severe infection contracted after fishing on Navy Flat about twelve months ago and it could have resulted in the amputation of half a leg. The photo should be enough  to put you off going there.

This flat is now on the banned list. If the boat starts to head towards London late in the afternoon before it heads back to the lodge, inquire about where you are heading. You are at liberty to refuse to go there and get off the boat.

Donations for Tanaea’s Family

Thank you to all those who have donated some cash to help Tanaea after the sudden loss of her husband a couple of weeks ago. She has been an employee of the lodge since it started and has greeted all fishermen with open arms and befriended many people. She has now moved in with her in-laws and they will be a great help to her in caring for and raising her 4 children. Over $3,000 has been raised to date of which $1500 has been transferred to help her with immediate costs. The remainder will be distributed shortly when it all arrives.

Luggage

One of the best news stories this year was that all luggage arrived. Maybe all the representations to Air Fiji has paid off and all issues about weight has been sorted out and baggage handlers have finally got the message.

Future Developments

As far as the lodge is concerned, the only major new development is the construction of a separate dining/bar area for other guests staying at the lodge so that they are separated from the day to day activities of the fishermen.

The new airport terminal that is due for completion end 2018 seems overly large and expensive for just two flights on one day of the week. It’s aide money that many feel could be better spent by making a smaller building and allocating the remainder to other projects such as improving the quality of the water. There are also supposed to be additional funds to repave the road from the airport to London which is urgent need of repair. With an improved road and consequential increase in speed, I wonder if car accidents will increase as many of the vehicles using the road are not what you would call roadworthy by out standards.

The Cabinet Minister, who is an ex-manager of The Villages, called in to share dinner one night and he was saying that they have funding to construct a new hospital probably on slightly higher ground not far from the airport rather than in London again. Another grand plan is the construction of a 5 star resort on the site of the old Captain Cook Hotel and the opening up of a channel from the bathing Lagoon to the main lagoon to give quicker access. It is hard to see how this project would be viable given the limited tourist activities and remote location. Bearing in mind that a similar resort was planned in the Perry’s Wharf area years ago and it had a natural death due to the lack of backers. We also asked him about the rumours that an additional 10,000 people were going to be resettled from Tawara. He said that there were no such plans but there again, he is a politician.

We also raised the subject about excessive and illegal netting as well as chumming in the lagoon. He said that he would raise the subject to fisheries to see what they were doing about it.

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2019 TRIP DATES

The following dates have been block booked for Australian and New Zealand Fishermen

3-10 July 2019 (New Moon 3/7) Fully Booked

10-17 July 2019 (1st Qtr Moon 9/7) 2 places available

17-24 July 2019—On Hold

24-31 July—On Hold

31 July—7 August 2019—On Hold

7-14 August 2019 (1st Qtr Moon 8/8) 8 places available

14-21 August 2019 (Full Moon 15/8) 4 places available

21-28 August 2019 (3rd Qtr Moon 24/8) 5 places available

28 August—4 September 2019—On Hold

4-11 September 2019 (1st Qtr Moon 6/9)

Trip cost for 2019 is $3,150 twin share (excluding airfares) with one guide per angler.

Discounts apply for Registered Fishing Clubs making block bookings, stays of 2 weeks or more and fishermen returning for more that 3 times.

Weeks from 7 August to 28 August will be hosted by Nial Logan

If you are considering, what to many is a trip of a lifetime, make contact now to reserve your spot as places are filling quickly

 

I arrived on CXI in July this year to be told that the team for the Worlds had been changed after approaches to the Management Board by a number of senior guides. The reasoning was that because of seniority, they should have priority over the younger guides chosen by the Lodge Manager. I believe the real reason was that they thought it would be a chance to get a free holiday to Australia.

After representations to the Board with the reasons for the original team selection, they agreed to reverse their decision. The aim behind selecting the young guides is that they would be representing their country, promoting the island as a destination as well as helping to draw attention to the problems they will have if global warming predictions take effect. It will also be a reward for those who have been working hard and receiving good reports from guests. The visit to and competing in the Championships in Tasmania will be a huge experience that they will remember for the rest of their guiding career.

The team of 6 as it stands at the moment is Eketi (team captain), Ben, Kim, Menty, Patrick and Tatoa and hopefully, with Kiima to provide assistance with administration for the team as well as the cultural side with singing and dancing.

We will be starting some training on the techniques they will be required to master to enable them to compete in an environment that is completely foreign to them. Training will consist of videos and some practical tuition on nymphing and fishing from boats. Also in 2019 we will have to services of a very experienced competition angler to provide some additional tuition when he visits the island.

All going well with the fund raising, the schedule will be to arrive in Tasmania on 15 November 2019, under take some practical training until 29 November, participate in the competition until 8 December and return to CXI on 11 December.

This will not be a cheap exercise The cost per member will be made up of $2,000 for airfares, $2,500 for entry fees and competition accommodation and $500 for incidentals during the 4 week stay making a total of $5,000 or $30,000 for the full team. We have been fortunate to be offered full sponsorship for one of the team members which is a big help and relieves the pressure slightly making it $25,000 to raise. The team may be trimmed back to 5 if funds raised are not sufficient. I will pay for the cost for our chef, Alfie Kither, as he will be essential support for the team.

To enable these guys to make it to Australia we are asking if you would consider being involved in a fund raising effort or by just making a donation to help the team. To assist clubs to become involved, there is a selection of rods, reels and fly lines available to raffle or auction with the proceeds going to the cause.  Anyone interested can contact me by email or phone to discuss how you can help.

Many, if not all of you, would have at some time fished with the members of the team. This is a time to show appreciation for help they have provided to make our holidays on CXI trips of a lifetime.

It may seem like a huge task but when broken down it is not so daunting. If 200 people just donate $100 each we will be there when that total is added to funds already raised.

Any assistance or estimates of assistance forthcoming will need to be completed by 31 December to enable a final decision and formal registration with the competition organisers

This is the ANZ account has been set up to facilitate and distribute funds raised. If you are interested in helping and can contribute, donations can be made as follows:

Electronic Transfers

Send an email or phone me for account details for electronic transfers at niall@learntoflyfish.net or phone 0417 426 282

Don’t forget to send a short Email with your contact details so that the donation can be acknowledged by receipt.

By Cheque:

Payable to – Nial Logan Project Marketing Pty Ltd, Address – PO Box 5980, Stafford Heights QLD 4053

If the financial target is not reached and the team does not make it to Australia then all monies donated will be refunded in full.

 

Team Sponsors and Supporters

Equipment Sponsors

 Provider of waders, boots and vests

Provider of a selection of tournament suitable rods

Supplier of Presentation Flies for Auction 

Provider of eyewear

Provider of team uniforms, reels, flylines and terminal tackle

Team Supporters by Donations of Cash and Flies

 Wayne Manion, B Freier, L Veltman, J Kaufman, C Beech, B Hardie, P Prideaux, C Scott, R Schrueder, C Bowen, T Christie,

J Holmes a Court, M Nowak from USA, J Lomas, M Herron, P Brennan, G Duff, A Saarinen, C Merriman,

R Bradford from Canada,

A Different Approach for GT Flies

I’ve come to the conclusion that attempting to cast 10 inch long bulky GT flies any distance quickly and with accuracy in windy conditions should be left to the experts. A recent incident where an estimated 40lb GT hammered a 3in long polarbean fly on a 3/0 hook got me thinking about the appoach we have been using. It seems that, if a GT is in the feeding mood, they will take anything that is presented in the right spot. The opportunities are often fleeting and they will spook easily if a fly is presented poorly in the wrong position.

Consequently, the requirements considered for a suitable fly are aerodynamic design that will sink to get into the fish’s eyesight, be easy to pick up to allow quick repositioning and one that sheds water quickly making it easier to cast some distance without the need for a lot of false casting.

These are the patterns chosen to meet the above requirements. The top 3, designed by Paul van Reenan and called Super Clousers, are tied using Steve Farrer flashblend material on 2/0 and 4/0 Gamakatsu SL12s hooks. An added advantage of the design is that it is less likely to foul in shallow water. The bottom fly uses flashblend for the tail and an EP brush wrapped for the head area.

 

 

 

 

The Villages Lodge – 2017 Mid Year Trip Report

THE VILLAGES LODGE ON KIRITIMATI

Reconstruction Progress

The reconstruction has taken a little longer than anticipated due to the lack of materials. This has been rectified with the arrival of the supply ship. The nails for the coil nail gun and the framing gun I took over will also help speed up the progress.

The thatched roof “madonna” meeting house and the adjoining two story building are originals. The building attached is currently the dining room and will eventually be a meeting area when the new dining room is completed. The building at the far end is reception and a couple of offices.

This is the roof structure forming the lobby open area adjoining the reception. Opening off the side is the new dining room with a curved ceiling. The tiles have recently arrived so it should be in use in a couple of weeks. The kitchen is located through the door at the end of the dining room.

 

The plan below shows the final layout of the dining room, kitchen and reception in more detail.

Fishing

The fishing on the full moon and the next quarter was excellent. Weather was kind with only one day with a small amount of rain and some days with a small amount of cloud to make spotting interesting. Lots of bonefish in the 3-4lb range with a number over 6lb landed. Orange (surprise, surprise) was the predominate colour selected by the guides for flies. A light fly with gold or rootbeer krystalflash body with no tail, brown bead chain eyes, tan wing and two strands of flash as over wing worked well on the skinny water sand flats. When conditions are suitable in front of the lodge, that is rising tide in the morning with little wind overnight so the water is clear, bonefish from 3 to 6lb are being caught. Plenty of triggers and trevally around the 30lb were caught at a number of locations around the lagoon but the big GT’s proved to be illusive. Sue Johnson can be seen fishing with one of the new trainee guides. ….great at spotting fish but language is a problem.

 

A few more fishing pics from the groups.

 

   

Luggage

No CXI luggage was offloaded in four weeks. After the numerous representations over the years to Fiji Airways about luggage non arrival and just when we thought that the message had finally got through, it happened again. All was OK until the flight on the 9th August when the luggage for 14 fishermen inbound for the Villages (plus others) was offloaded in Fiji due to supposed weight issues. I have a message referring to information supplied by FJ Ground Operations that says that a total of 94 bags were offloaded. We are told that baggage has a priority over freight, but in light of what has happened, this is hard to believe. When the aircraft is overweight because of the volume of fuel that has to be carried, luggage bound for Honolulu is usually offloaded before anything else. This time, with a number of 94, it appears that the majority of baggage was off loaded. The only people who got bags were those who had priority stickers from business class, Qantas and Tabua Club.

This appears to be a random situation, however to be on the safe side, taking a couple of simple precautions will help. Make sure your luggage is within the weight limits and that it is clearly marked as fisherman’s luggage for CXI. Remember, you are relying on the intelligence of the baggage handlers not to take off the first bags they see. As an additional precaution against the non-arrival of your bags, pack boots, socks, fishing clothes and essential medications in your carry on……no reels or rods are allowed to be carried on and need to be packed in checked luggage. We have been presented with another idea to make sure the group members have rods and reels to use and we will pursue the viability of this option.

Even though this could have been a trip destroying event, Fiji Airways agreed to deliver the bags on a special flight on Friday the 11th. To assist them out for the two days before the arrival of their luggage, the outgoing group hosted by Darren Asquith of Untamed Flies and Tackle lent the necessary gear to tide them over. Great to see a camaraderie display like this between fishermen who don’t know each other.

2018 Dates

These are the dates block booked for 2018 season. If these don’t suit, email me with your preferred dates and I’ll check availability. Bear in mind that the first 6 months of the year are usually fairly heavily booked by fishermen from the US and, as a consequence, vacancies during that period may be limited.

4-11 July – Booked

11 – 18 July – New Moon 13 Jul

18 – 25 July -First Quarter 20 Jul

25 July – 1 August – Booked (but still 6 positions available)

1 – 8 August – Third Quarter 3 Aug

8 – 15 August – New Moon 11 Aug

18 – 22 August – Booked

22 – 29 August– Booked

29 August – 5 Sept – Third Quarter 3 Sep

5 -12 September – Booked

2018 Costs

Cost for a week has risen marginally to $2950. On bookings made through Try on Fly only, we will consider a small discount for clubs and on the second week of a 2 week stay. This still represents good value for 7 days fishing with one guide per angler. Airfares range between $1200 and $1400 depending on how far in advance the booking is made.

 World Championships 2019

It is all systems go for a team to travel to Tasmania to participate in the World Fly Fishing Championships from 29th November to 8th December 2019. It is planned to have the team in Australia by mid-November to do some preliminary training before the competition commences.

The team consists of 5 anglers plus a reserve. The initial team members selected from left are:

Patrick, Ben, Eketi (Team Captain), Tiima (singing dancing and face of the team) Kim and Menty. The last member Tatoa was not available when the photo was taken.

Apart from Eketi, these are all young guides who have been trained over the last couple of years and have displayed exceptional ability and have received good reports from visiting fishermen.

It will be a major commitment for the lodge to raise $4,500 for each member of the team to cover airfares, entry fees and accommodation during the competition. To assist with the fund raising, the lodge will have donation boxes strategically positioned at the bar and reception so that visiting fishermen can make a donation. I will cover Tiima’s airfares from my funds.

An ex-member of the Australian Team has offered to go to CXI to undertake preliminary training with the team. You may well ask what training can be done on the island? There a couple of flats that have channels with strong currents on the run out tide and are suitable for teaching nymphing techniques. The two small fiberglass boats can be used for basic techniques for lake fishing with sinking lines.

It is planned to cover the team’s preparation and participation in the event in a documentary and, as well, some other major promotions are planned so that the island obtains maximum exposure from the teams visit.

Some additional fund raising will be undertaken to assist with transport costs, accommodation/food during the training period, airfares to Tassie for our chef Alfie Kither, casual footwear, bags for their gear, uniforms, equipment, warm clothes etc etc…..the list goes on.

A separate post will follow giving details on how you can assist in this once in a lifetime opportunity for these guys to experience a little portion of the world outside the small island that is CXI.

Cheers

Nial Logan

niall@learntoflyfish.net or Phone 0417 426 282

Customising a Stripping Basket

by Nial Logan

Love them or hate them, there are instances where a stripping basket is as essential as your fly rod. If you are a saltwater exponent, where management of 70 or 80 feet of flyline is critical, they are invaluable. Whether you will be wading an estuary, standing knee deep in the surf, fishing off the stones or just walking the shore watching for an opportunity to present itself,  never leave home without one. Many of the commercially available baskets, while having some good design features, are let down by equally bad shortcomings. Whatever design you finally decide on, practice or use it on a regular basis and become familiar with its use. Use it once and you will quickly decide it is not for you.

The original home made stripping basket made use of a plastic 20 litre box however the ones now available are brittle and crack very easily. After some research, the following design has been trialled both here in Australia and overseas and has proved to fulfil all requirements and it’s still cheap to produce. It can be quickly taken apart and is ideal for storing reels to prevent damage when travelling.

Materials List

 Plastic bucket with handles – can be found in hardware stores and most cheap shops but some are made of a thinner material than others. Try and locate one made of a thicker material. The bucket size used is 32cm diameter across top and 23cm high.

Closed cell foam – camping mats are ideal

Toilet seat retaining screws – 2

Silicon Nozzles – 7

Instructions

Step 1 – carefully remove the handles with a sharp knife

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Step 2 –  use a hole saw and drill 3 holes about 3cm up the side of what will be the back of the basket for drainage.  These will eventually be on the side closest to your body. If water gets in, this allows you grasp the front of the basket and tilt it towards you to drain any water out quickly.

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Step 3 – Make the two attachment points by pop rivetting 2 small stainless saddles spaced about 20cm apart and 2-3cm down from the top of the bucket. Alternatively, the cheapest way is to drill two holes and make a loop by knotting each end of some stiff cord on the inside of the bucket. These are the attachment points for the belt straps that position the basket below waist level to enable long strips. Note – if using pop rivets use some thin aluminium as reinforcement to prevent the heads of the pop rivets pulling through the plastic.

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Step 4 – The secret of any basket design is to have some sort of retaining clip for the flyline coming from the reel. If you don’t have one, the action of casting will pull the line on the bottom of the basket causing the line on top to tangle. I think this is the main reason a lot of people find baskets troublesome. The clip will also stop the line spilling out of the basket in strong wind or as you move around.
It was found the best system is comprised of hook and loop velcro attached to the side of the basket. Position it on the front end of the basket with the opening facing out away from you. One piece (about 2-3 inches long) with hooks is attached to the side of the basket (pop rivet in each corner). Stick the other piece with loops on a piece of flexible plastic and attach on top by one end at the rear with a pop rivet in each corner. The system allows the line to be pulled clear as the fish take up the slack line.

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Step 5 – drill 2 x 9mm holes in the bottom that are large enough to thread the foam bottom retainers through. These are the plastic screws that are used on toilet seats and can be bought at hardware stores.

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Step 6 – Cut a piece of solid closed cell foam(camping mats are ideal) to fit neatly into the bottom of the bucket.

Step 7 – Place it in the bucket and drill holes for the retainer screws. Mark the position for the silicon nozzles and drill holes in the foam.

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Basket assembled ready for use.

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Step 8 – The basket is hung from two cord loops that are knotted on the top so that they can slide around the belt. This allows the basket to be positioned to suit individual preference for position. The loops lower the basket below waist level to allow long single handed strips when positioned on the side or double handed strips when positioned on the front. This avoids the uncomfortable necessity of holding the rod high to strip as you have to do with many of the commercial baskets that are worn about waist high. 

The lower ends of the cord loops are fitted with clips that connect to attachment points on the side of the basket. The basket can be unclipped or swung around out of the way when fighting a fish. More importantly, you can sit down in a boat with the basket on and still be ready to make a quick cast if an opportunity presents itself.

As a rough guide when making the loops measure the length so that top of the basket is positioned at the top of your thigh. Test the position and adjust to suit yourself.

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Fly – Trigger Kandi

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 Background

Thirteen odd years ago when I first visited Christmas island, everybody used 8 and 9 wt rods for bone fish and anyone using something like 6wt were looked upon as being a bit strange. Black hooks and black barbell eyes were taboo and flies with rubber legs usually received comments like “nice fly” just prior to the legs being unceremoniously removed by the guide.

A brown waving tail attracted my interest…..”What’s that I said?” Guide’s response ……”Trigger Fish, don’t waste your time casting at them as they seldom take a fly.”

How times have changed. A large number of fishermen now use five and six weight rods. Flies tied on black hooks are used with no objections from the guides. As more fishermen expressed interest in chasing Triggers, techniques were developed that resulted in the catch rates improving. Suitable flies, apart from the normal crazy charlie and gotcha bonefish flies, are now becoming more sophisticated. Crab and shrimp patterns that incorporate orange hotspots and rubber legs as attractors are the goto flies for anyone with “trigger fever”.

A number of years ago, one of the first flies I experimented with was the CF Bongo. The CF, standing for Ceel-Furr, was a great synthetic fibre but it is now unfortunately no longer available. In addition, forming the dubbing brush, dubbing the body and trimming to shape took time. The sourcing of a alternative material to use and a consequential change to the tying sequence to suit, has made this variation quick and easy to tie.

The pattern variation was used for the first time this year and it accounted for numerous trigger fish. On occasions, even though it is a fairly large fly compared to the normal ones used, it also proved to be to irresistible to bonefish when coupled with a slow, short retrieve.

There could be any number of reasons why it works so well. The rubber legs float and move in the current and when stripped. The orange hotspots are UV sensitive and there are theories that fish can see in that spectrum. It is different from the vast majority of flies that are presented to them and the fish could perceive it as a more substantial meal. Probably the main reason is that, with a lot of fishing pressure, anything that looks more like a close representation to their actual prey source receives better attention.

Hook – #2 Gamakatsu SL12s
Thread – orange flat waxed
Eyes – small black barbell
Flash – rootbeer or yellow krystalflash
Legs – red and black or tan with orange tips
Hotspot – orange finn raccoon
Body – orange straggle, cinnamon UV straggle
Wing – fine tan coloured hair
Tying Sequence

Lay a base of thread along the hook shank.

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 Attach flash at hook bend and wrap slightly around the bend.

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 Attach a small piece of hotspot material.

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Tie eyes at the start of the bend

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Turn hook over. Attach legs behind the eyes.

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Take a small bunch of fine hair and tie in on top of legs.

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Tie in straggle body material, move thread to the hook eye and then wrap body material up to the hook eye, tie off, trim excess.

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Attach a small clump of hair behind the hook eye so that it extends just past the hook bend. This wing will ensure that the fly turns over to be hook point up even in shallow water. Whip finish and apply some head cement to the wraps.

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Does Line Colour Really Matter?

Some time ago, we had an extended conversation about the colour of flylines used for bonefish on Christmas Island. It coincided with the time that Rio produced their orange bonefish line and subsequently the bonefish quickshooter hivis model. The conversation got to the stage that, in an endeavour to prove that colour has little influence on spooking fish, a variety of coloured lines were laid on the water. With the use of goggles and snorkel the opposing sides took it in turns to go under water and look up at the lines. From underwater all you can see is the dark under side of the line even clear lines.

When I returned home some research turned up the article below that about sums it up. My apologies because I can’t remember where it came from but it was penned by Louis Cahill.

Article by Louis Cahill

“Why do you need a bright coloured fly line and does it spook fish?

A reader asked for an opinion on this and that’s what you’re going to get….my opinion. This is one of those hotly contested arguments that anglers can’t seem to agree on and my saying one thing or another isn’t going to settle it. I do have strong opinions on the subject, so since you asked, here they are.

The colour of your fly line doesn’t matter, until it does.

For most fly fishing, if you’re doing things well the colour of your line doesn’t matter any more than the colour of your eyes. There are, however, times when it can make a difference and the difference may not always be what you think. When I make a purposeful choice on line colour, it’s usually not to keep the fish from seeing it.

What doesn’t matter

Assuming for the moment that we are talking about trout fishing, if you are thinking that you are being stealthy by using a dull coloured line, you’re coming at things from the wrong angle. If you are putting your line over the fish, it doesn’t matter what colour it is. Fish are very attune to shadow and movement. If your fly line passes over them while casting, they will see the shadow of the line, even if it’s clear. The same goes for motion. Colour doesn’t matter.

If you are floating the line over them, on the surface of the water, things are worse. They now see the depression of the water’s surface as well as shadow and motion. Sure, they can see that a bright orange line is orange and a green line is green but they will find neither acceptable. The bottom line is, if you’re spooking fish it’s a presentation problem not a colour problem.

If it matters at all, it’s in the margins. Meaning, do fish see the colour of your line when you are casting on the edge of their field of vision? You thought you were far enough away but you weren’t and maybe they would catch a glimpse of an orange line but not a green one. Maybe, and maybe they’d see it while it’s still on the reel and you are passing by. You can make yourself crazy about stuff like that if you like.

Personally, I choose my fly line based on the taper, the materials and the performance. The colour is secondary at best. There was a time when I went completely the other way. I used to buy white lines and dye them camo, olive and tan. You can do it in the bathtub with fabric dye, changing colour every few feet. It’s a pain and will not make your spouse happy, trust me. In the end I decided it didn’t make any difference.

What does matter

When I choose a line for its colour, it’s usually for its visibility. It’s also usually for fly fishing in saltwater. In saltwater fishing it’s crucial that you always know the attitude of your fly. Where it is in relation to the fish. Whether it’s moving or still, slack or swinging in current. The best way to know that is by watching your line. I want a line that is bright enough for me to see in my peripheral vision, so I can watch the fish and still know what my fly is doing.

Swinging flies with spey rods is another case where I want a bright line. I want to see my line so I can effectively manage my swing. Again, the attitude of the fly is what’s most important and I need a line I can see. You are in no danger of spooking a steelhead with a Skagit head so the sky is the limit.

I do like clear tip intermediate sink tip lines for streamers. They allow me to use a short leader, 4-5 feet, to effectively get the fly down. Since the tip sinks there is no surface depression to worry about and they are stealthier. I like clear tips for migrating tarpon as well. They give you better odds at not spooking fish when casting to schools on the move.

What does matter way more than the colour of your line is your confidence as an angler. If a bright line, that you can see, gives you confidence in your casting or in detecting a take, by all means that’s what you should fish. If you feel the need to get in the tub and dye your line camo to be confident, then have a go at it. Make your own decision, try it and respect the decisions of others who don’t feel the same need.”

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 Another Consideration

There is another factor that has could be taken into account besides line colour when fish spook.

If you look up from under water, you will see an area above water that is in focus. If the surface is particularly calm, clouds can clearly be seen. This circle of focus to above the water world is at an angle of about 97degrees from the viewing point and is referred to  as Snell’s Window. The area around the circle is a reflection of the seascape, and as such is much darker than the sky.

When fishing in skinny water, this could be another reason why fish spook apart from flyline colour. Assume the fisherman is 6ft tall and he is using a 9ft foot rod, then the moving tip of the rod would be between 13 and 15 ft high. Let’s say the fish is 30feet away and if the Snells Window principle is applied, this movement is in focus and can be readily seen by the fish. Proof of this has been observed in glassed out conditions, when the fish spook as soon as the rod is moved even at considerable distance. At certain times of the day when the sun is at a particular angle, the flash off the glassy finish on the rod can be seen from a considerable distance away and certainly by fish at close distance.

The solution to lessen the effect of Snell’s window and rod flash is to crouch down and use a low rod angle to make the cast.

Easy Shrimp Eyes

Making your own eyes using beadchain is quick, simple and cost saving. In addition it allows you to design them to suit your own needs.

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  1.  Take some bead chain in colour of choice but black and orange seem to the most favoured.
  2. Cut the chain into individual pieces.
  3. Thread some monofilament through the bead – 40lb for medium size, 30lb for small.
  4. To stop the bead slipping off, melt the end of the mono and while still hot press it flat. If you wish, blacken the end with a black permanent marker.
  5. Apply some UV glue over the entire eye.

The added advantage of using the beadchain is that provides weight and does away with the need to attach barbell eyes on some flies.

The Villages 2016 Trip Summary

The annual July/August trips covering the eight week period have concluded with all participants arriving home safely. All went smoothly even with the changes that have happened at the lodge in the last 12 months. With the unfortunate loss of Neemia in a car accident late in 2015, Eketi has stepped up to take the head guide position even though he initially found it difficult to disengage himself from being one of the guides to one of leadership. He is doing a good job and is well respected by all visiting fishermen.

Recently, there has also been a change in the lodge management. The previous manager, Mikarite Temari has been elected as a Cabinet Minister for the Line Islands and Tetaeka Nangka is now the general manager of the lodge. He has been at the lodge since its inception and many will recall him as the manager of the reception so he has a good working knowledge of the lodge. He is well respected by the staff and I’m sure he will continue to maintain The Villages as a top fishing lodge.

Building and Improvements

The new meeting and bar area located at the end of the original one has now been completed.  The supporting structure is a work of art and some, for obvious reasons, have nicknamed it the “madonna” structure. Whatever the thoughts about the design, it is a great area to relax in at the end of the day.

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The tiling and plumbing in a number of the accommodation rooms was installed close to 10years ago and is due for replacement. The operations/construction manager suggested that many of the workers require some basic skills training and this would be a great opportunity to provide some training.

One proposal would be for a couple of tilers and plumbers to be offered a discounted trip in exchange for 3 days teaching the guys the basics. Obviously there would need to considerable co-ordination to make sure supplies are prepositioned on the island. Any “tradies” interested can send me an email on niall@learntoflyfish.net to discuss the proposal.

Towards the end of last year $6,500 worth of tools were shipped to the island in a container together with equipment for the new power stations. All arrived safely and most were put to immediate use apart from the nail guns.They were reluctant to use these due to a lack of knowledge. Fortunately a builder, Craig Hawkins was there in July and gave them a quick lesson on their use. When I left at the end of August, all you could hear during the day was the nail guns being used and they are now making good use of them to help speed up construction work.

The workshop and vehicles are currently located inside the gate as you enter the compound. To tidy up the area of arrival and reduce noise, the proposal is to relocate them into the back corner where they are less conspicuous.

Tekamaeu Burieta who is the operations manager is a very talented man. He can quote the scientific names of all the fish, draws all the building plans used and freehand drew this large scale lagoon map on the wall of the new bar. It is a great addition to identify where you have fished during the day.

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Food

The quality and variety in the meals has improved markedly from what it was a few years ago. This can be attributed to the new cook and to the purchasing agent in Honolulu who acquires the required supplies and sends them on the monthly private freighter flight. Fresh perishable vegetables still come in on the flights from Fiji and Honolulu each Wednesday however this comes at a cost as charges are very high.

In an endeavor to control the rising costs, the manager will allocate some of the staff to fishing duties for tuna and crayfish instead of purchasing them from the local markets. They are also looking at re-establishing the garden provided that they can get some seeds in through customs.

Internet

Now that the ownership of the communications system has changed, wifi is available at reception for a small weekly charge. It is slow but quite acceptable to send messages home. Don’t try sending live feeds of your trip as you will more than likely be disappointed.

Mobile phone reception is good however you will need to purchase a local sim card ($2) and purchase recharges in increments of $5 or $10 as required. Text messages are cheap but phone calls are expensive.

Boats

The first offshore fibreglass boat is up and running. It is set up primarily for the diving operation however, if there are no divers using it, it can be used in the lagoon. The size of the motor means it can carry 4 fishermen plus guides and get to fishing locations and reposition quickly. Unfortunately, the delivery of the second boat for offshore fishing has been delayed pending sourcing of a different supplier in Fiji and repair of the freighter to get it to the island.

There are now five outrigger boats fitted with four stoke motors owned by the lodge. All will have marine radios in lockable waterproof boxes installed in early 2017.

Diving

The diving operation with the new boat is up and running. If you have the necessary qualifications, the cost is $350 per day shared if there are 2 or 3. The price includes all equipment and air. All reports indicate that it is spectacular even though there has been some bleaching of the coral in a couple of locations.

Guides and Training

Twenty potential guides, including 2 ladies, participated in the training sessions conducted over 6 weeks. Those showing the desired attitude and abilities were referred onto the head guide for further assessment during on the job training.

Four of the more advanced trainees were thrown into the deep end when there were large groups and some of the senior guides were sick. They all acquitted themselves very well and received good reports on their enthusiasm and abilities from the fishermen they guided for.

Weather

The El Nino system that had a dramatic influence on water levels and the weather in 2016 has dissipated resulting in the weather patterns returning to normal. Even though overcast on occasions, there was only one day where there was considerable rain.

The wind that we have come to expect was ever present and, during one week in particular, the water was so cloudy that the majority of the week was spent in the Ysite area to get some clear water and a bit of protection from the wind.

Fishing

The permit for the commercial tuna boats with the associated factory ships has not been renewed again this year. We hoped that this would result in a bumper yellowfin year but on the three occasions when weather permitted the trips proved a wash out with only a few skipjack tuna being caught. Even the local fishermen had a hard time finding fish and, as a consequence, fish on the menu was a bit rare at times. The reasons put forward were water temperature caused by the passing of the El Nino system and overfishing.

Plenty of bonefish were caught and numbers in the region of 40 and 50 were common with the average size being in the 2-3 pound range. Larger fish were observed sometimes caught and some lost. Craig Hawkins caught this fish in the Paris flat area…..think it was on Eddies Flat.

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Trevally captures in the 10-20lb range were common but big fish were illusive and very choosy when they did appear.

Unfortunately, chumming by one lodge in particular is still being practiced. Once a fish starts eating the chum it will seldom take a fly. To get results the next step is to thread a piece of flesh onto the fly. If the fishermen think this is Ok that is up to them. The problem lies in the fact that if you happen to go onto that flat, the bonefish will be swimming around your feet and aren’t interested in any flies. Not before time, a law is in the process of being passed to outlaw the practice.

A lot of the groups spent time targeting trigger fish. Although there were some good specimens caught there were numerous tales of broken or squashed hooks, bite offs, escapes into holes and over the flat edges that simply highlighted what a tough and challenging species they are to catch on fly.

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These are just a sample of triggers caught. The head shot shows why they can bite through hooks and why you avoid putting your fingers anywhere near their mouth. Some of the bigger specimens were landed in the Korean Wreck area. With global warming, some can even now be observed wearing sunnies.

Equipment

My old wading boots were laid to rest and, as an alternative, a pair were purchased from an army disposals store. After 8 weeks of use, apart from fading in colour, they are still in as new condition. The upside is that they are cheaper than the well-known brands  of wading boots that only last 3-4 weeks of continual use before starting to deteriorate. The only shortcoming was that the laces were very tasty for the local crabs which had a good feast of them one night when they were hanging over the side of the balcony to dry.

The windy conditions meant that the majority of rods used for bonefish and triggers were in the 7-8wt range. To make quick presentations a bit easier, these were usually uplined by one or two weights depending on the stiffness of the rod. The orange head on the Rio Qickshooter lines (same weight as rod) proved very helpful for those of us with failing eyesight as it makes it easier to see where the fly is positioned in relation to the fish.  Learning techniques to help overcome the wind before the trip is a definite advantage

Although there are many brands sun glasses used, it is still amazing that some fishermen pay a lot of money for the trip and pay little attention to the piece of equipment, besides rod/reel, that improves their catch rate.  The ability to see fish is greatly improved by using good quality sunglasses which more than justifies the extra expense involved. There are a number of brands that fill the bill and it’s a matter of personal preference. Bronze lenses seem to be the colour of choice and are best under a variety of conditions. I normally use Spotters but as they were a couple of years old, I splashed out on a new pair of prescription glasses from Tonic Eyewear and was more than happy with their performance.

For bonefish, the normal selection of orange or salmon pink thread with tan wing Gotchas and Crazy Charlies tied sparsely worked on the majority of occasions. A couple of variations of these colours shown below also worked on the white sand flats. On the top, salmon thread, body wrap over thread is pink UV krystalflash and tan wing. On the bottom, beadchain eyes, tan thread, body rootbeer krystalflash over thread and tan wing.

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For milkfish at the lagoon entrance, scum type flies in a yellowish, dirty white colours that suspend just below the surface still seem to get the best results. Weather conditions were not very favourable for chasing the milkfish and the limited of opportunities we did have resulted in a couple of hook ups but all were lost.

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The go-to patterns for trigger fish and, also bonefish on a few occasions, were “shrimpy” looking patterns with rubber legs tied on strong #2 hooks. The rubber legs float and must move enticingly in the current which makes them more realistic and attractive to the fish.

Update on Rates for 2017

The poor state of repairs that still plagues the supply ship from Fiji/Tawara means that a lot of the purchases such as fresh food are now coming in on a monthly charter flight from Honolulu. A three monthly supply ship from Honolulu brings non-perishable supplies such as water and beer. In addition to the added costs associated with air freight, the fall in the Aussie Dollar against the US dollar means that the costs to the lodge have risen sharply.

The price for the block booked weeks in July/August 2017 will be maintained at $2,750AU per week, however, for any other period in 2017 and 2018, the price will be $3,150AU. This brings the costs for Australian and New Zealand guests more in line with the US price of $2,450US. It should be noted that the US fishermen only get six days fishing as opposed to six and a half for fishermen coming in through Fiji.  The single room occupancy will be $350 for 2017 and 2018.

What will happen to the prices in the future will depend on the currencies. They will be reviewed on a regular basis to keep in line with any changes that occur.

The deposit to hold a spot will be $550 within 14 days of making the booking with the balance payable 90 days prior to the trip. The time period has been extended from 60 to 90 days to allow trip payments to be finalized prior to transfer to the Island. There is a considerable saving on bank fees when the total is transferred in one transaction.

Nevertheless, even with the anticipated price increases, compared to other destinations, this still represents good value for those going to the Island from Australia for six and a half days on what is arguably some of the best flats fishing for bonefish in the world.

 2017 Dates

Refer to the Christmas Island page for the available dates during the 2017 season. If these don’t suit, email me with your preferred dates and I’ll check availability. Bear in mind that the first 6 months of the year are usually fairly heavily booked by fishermen from the US and, as a consequence, vacancies during that period may be limited.

Flights and Luggage

Luggage is still being off loaded in Fiji because of flight weight issues. Numerous representations have been made to Air Fiji and they have assured us that the problem has now been addressed. Time will tell.

I have also queried why guests from the US can carry rods on the incoming flight from Honolulu to CXI but the same is not allowed from Fiji. The response is that they come under a different regulation to us. A word of warning….include reels in your carry on at your own risk as there have been instances where all the line and backing has had to be removed as it is considered unsafe.

To be on the safe side we recommend that you take the following steps to ensure your luggage arrives on the island with you or to minimise the inconvenience if it does not arrive..

  1. Make sure your bag is under the 23kg checked luggage allowance. Business Class, Qantas and Tabua Club members have an allowance of 30kg for checked luggage and 7kg as carry on.
  2. Clearly label your luggage as fisherman’s luggage for the CXI flight. This will hopefully prevent the baggage handlers removing your luggage from the flight if the payload is too heavy.
  3. As an additional precaution and to have a bit of comfort for the day instead of sitting around the terminal, some people collect their luggage, go through Fiji immigration and spend the day at one of the local hotels/resorts. They then check in again about 2 hours before the midnight flight to CXI.
  4. Probably the best tip is to pack your boots, a couple of pairs of socks, a pair of fishing clothes and more importantly any essential medications in your carry-on luggage. Rods and reel can always be borrowed. Bags are being weighed at check-in so make sure you abide by the 7kg allowance.
  5. Another option if you are travelling with a friend or group, distribute rods, reels and flies across a couple of bags.

Gift Shop

The building that will house a dedicated gift shop will be completed before December. It will be stocked with local craft souvenir items, flies tied by the guides, some tackle supplies and the CXI shirts below.

CXI Shirts

A supply of the Villages CXI shirts below made of a light weight 145gram, breathable eyelet mesh SPF 30+ rated material in either white or aqua colours have been ordered. The preorder cost will be $55AU each.

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A generic style shirt in the aqua colour with “Bonefishing” substituted for the words “The Villages Lodge” wherever they appear, will also be available for those fishermen who stay at other lodges. The cost will be $55AU

To preorder one, send me an email at niall@learntoflyfish.net or phone 0417426282 with a size and colour. Expected arrival time will be 6-8 weeks.

 Gifts for Children

As in previous years, if you have spare space in your luggage in 2017, the preschool would be grateful for any items you could bring. Items such as balls, colouring pencils, colouring books and reading books suitable for 3-7yr olds, any posters relating to counting/alphabet, plain coloured paper, stencils and plastic scissors are always welcomed.

To reiterate the request in the last newsletter, do not throw items such as balls and balloons out of vehicles as children tend to run on the road without checking for oncoming traffic. The kids have very little and it does not take long for a begging situation to develop. The best option is to give gifts to an adult for distribution.

Bar Rules

The condition of the Villages liquor licence is that the bar ceases trading and is closed at 10pm…..no exceptions as it could lead to a suspension of their licence. If you wish to drink past 10pm then you need to purchase the supplies you require before the closing time. If you wish to party on, consider the other guests and keep the noise level down.

Given the problems associated with alcohol consumption on the island, fishermen should not purchase alcohol or invite guides to drink with them of an evening or at the end of the trip. By all means buy them a soft drink but strictly no alcohol.

A shirt/singlet and shorts are minimum dress for meals and the meeting/bar area.

Lodge Policy on Visits of Employees of Other Lodges

It is appreciated that a lot of fishermen have stayed at other lodges over the years and have a friendship with staff and guides from those lodges. Consequently, a couple of basic rules have been applied by the management of the Villages Lodge.

  1.  Employees of other lodges may visit with fishermen to enjoy their hospitality. They should not be invited on a regular basis and stay for extended periods. As a guideline they should exit the lodge by 7pm unless prior arrangement has been made with the General Manager.
  2. Information relating to the operations of the lodge must not be given or shared with the employee of another lodge.
  3. No employee of another lodge or any person shall conduct any form of business whether paid or unpaid within the lodge grounds without prior approval of the General Manager.

Cheers

Nial Logan

Try on Fly

Australian and New Zealand Booking Agent for The Villages Lodge

niall@learntoflyfish.net or Phone o417 426 282