Trip Report 2019

Trips during this years block booked period of July and August received glowing reports on both the fishing and the services provided at the Villages Lodge. After all the turmoil with the appointment of a new head guide in late 2018 then the sudden loss of Shimano, Bob as new head guide with Beia as his deputy, have stepped up and are doing a great job in organising the guide rosters and the daily fishing activities. This together with the hard working staff who keep everybody well fed, those who service the rooms and those who tend to the thirsts at night are ensuring that The Villages is building on its reputation as the premier lodge to visit on Kiritimati.

As the result of some issues last year, we decided this year to have either Andy Vockler or myself present for the whole 8 week period to make sure everything ran smoothly. These issues usually arise when there are inexperienced group leaders who unaware of the island system and consequently have problems with resolving situations to everybody’s satisfaction.

Andy Vockler’s Report on Weeks 3 July – 31 July

In July, I had the pleasure of being at the Villages for the entire month looking after 4 different groups of anglers. The best part was being there for the entire month and fishing through a full moon cycle. Over the month all of the fisherman caught plenty of great fish. This year saw lots of good sized bonefish with plenty caught in the 3–6lb. range,a good number of 7lb. fish were caught as well and of course there we plenty of stories of the one that got away.

Our guides worked tirelessly making sure all clients were fully satisfied at the end of each day. Another pleasing aspect for me was the advancement of our younger “trainee” guides, all of them are developing into fine guides, they do themselves, their families and the Villages proud. Great reports and feedback was received about them all from the anglers.

Over the full moon we fished the Paris Flat bonefish aggregation. I don’t think I can recall seeing so many big bonefish in the one spot. Massive schools of fish!! The surprising thing for me was that they were also swimming on the surface. Fast stripped flies would see 6 and 7 lb. bonefish peel off and chase the fly down like little tunas, very visual and a lot of fun. Over the neap tides we fished for shallow water bonefish and trigger fish. Once again lots were caught and as always plenty were lost for various reasons.

A few groups fished the Korean wreck on several occasions for a good variety of solid bonefish, triggers, bluefin and GT. One memorable capture down there was from Marty, an angler from Tassie who managed a very good barracuda on a clouser. Lucky he hooked it in the side of the jaw as he wasn’t fishing with any wire trace. Milkfish were always available just outside the lagoon during the early mornings on the run out tides. As is always the case with milkfish, thousands of casts were made over the weeks with a total of 6 fish landed, that’s milkfishing!! The GT’s were plentiful throughout the month with some great fish caught on Orvis, Nine Mile, Smokey and up around the backcountry. Throughout the month we were blessed with fabulous weather with only a couple of days lost to heavy cloud. I can’t wait to do it all again next year!!

Nial Logan’s Report on Weeks 31 July – 28 August

The fishing was much the same as in Andy’s report with plenty of bonefish and the inevitable tales of lost triggers. Late one afternoon, one of the groups encountered a feeding mayhem by a pack of GT”s, estimated in excess of 50, creating mayhem on a large baitball near Orvis Flat. They managed to pull 3 or 4 up to about 40lb out of it and reported that there were some huge specimens that refused the flies. Needless to say they came back to the lodge a bit shell shocked. The last 2 weeks of the month saw an increase in the wind speed to about 30-40 km per hour for close to 24 hours a day. Needless to say a lot of the popular flats on the far side of the lagoon and close to the lodge were unfishable due to the stirred up sand resulting in cloudy water. Consequently, areas at the back of the lagoon, the backcountry and nine mile flat area were the only opinions to find clear water. It takes longer to get there but the fishing justified the extra time on the boat to get there.

Another 9 young potential guides underwent a week of training. It is a necessity to keep the “production line” going to ensure there is a full quota of trained competent guides available. It takes a 3 year apprentership  before they are classified as a fully qualified guide. The training involved setting up the gear, knots, learning to cast both right and left hand, some simple fly tying and a days fishing where they were given pointers to casting to fish, stripping, fighting, landing and handling the fish to ensure a healthy release. It still amazes me how quickly they pick up the basics of casting. The ones showing potential and who have a reasonable grasp of English are referred onto the head guide for further evaluation and on the job training. It’s rewarding to see the the trainees for the last few years doing so well, getting good reports and enjoying their work.

The king of the kids. Colin Merriman had been helping out the preschool with printer, ink and a supply of paper to assist the teachers with their lessons. In appreciation, they performed some traditional dances as well as providing lunch.

Some Photos from this Year

   

  

  

  

 

Progress on CXI Team’s preparation for the World Championships

The team is confirmed from left Beia, Eketi (Team Captain), Taatoa, Toanikarawa (TK), Kirimento (Menty). The reinstatement of Eketi to the team will be a huge benefit as he was on the 2014 team and knows the basic format so will be able to assist greatly in the team organization.

The plan is have the team arrive in Tasmania on 15th November. Accommodation has been secured at Penstock Lagoon for the two week training period. It is a shame that it will be closed for fishing as it is designated as one of the competition venues. They will move to the Launceston accommodation on 30th November, participate in the competition until 8th December and return to CXI on 10th December.

The competition will be conducted over 5 days on foot in two rivers, the Meander and Mersey and out of drift boats on 3 lakes, Penstock Lagoon, Little Pine Lagoon and Woods Lake. More details on the event can be viewed at https://www.wffc2019.com/

Already, Alfie Kither who will cater and cook for the team has started organizing some equipment to help with his job …talk about keen.  Peter Woods has volunteered to tie the majority of the estimated 900 flies that will be required. He will also be on hand in Tassie to tie or instruct the team members on tying any top-up patterns that may become necessary. To date $800 has been spent on the procurement of materials to support his endeavor.  Jim Williams has also come on board and he will act as Team Captain. His experience in competition fishing and the local Tassie conditions will be invaluable during the 2 week training /assimilation as well as during the competition.

We are grateful to the organisations that include Essential Flyfisher and Mayfly Tackle who have sponsored rods, waders, boots and vests. This has taken a big load off the amount of funds we need to raise to bring the team to Tasmania. The majority of the generous cash donations made by individuals has gone towards a lot of the other equipment/materials the team will require that is not sponsored. This has been purchased as it became available at attractive prices. The list includes wet weather gear, cold weather gear (jackets, gloves and thermals), socks, team uniforms (consisting of jeans, embroidered team shirts and caps) as well as bags to transport their gear.  I have purchased 5 x 10ft nymphingrods, 15 Redington reels, 25 Rio flylines and 15 flyboxes. These will be sold off at the competition end so watch out for some good prices.

See the list of current sponsors in post –    https://learntoflyfish.net/team-sponsors-and-supporters

Obtaining information about paperwork for the required visa applications has been a nightmare but finally a glimmer of light. The problems arose from the need to lodge applications on line and not all the information required to do so was on hand. After finally contacting the Dept of Home Affairs to clarify the forms required to submit a hard copy, it is all systems go. The form 1419 (17 pages long) has been completed by team members while on CXI in August and lodged with the the Home Affairs Office in Sydney upon return from CXI. Hopefully the issue of the visas with then be smooth sailing.

This is not a cheap exercise. To enable these guys to make it to Australia, there is still a lot of work to be done not the least of which is raising some additional funds to assist with their trip. The estimated cost of the team trip is $40,000. Even though the Lodge has contributed sufficient funds for airfares (about $10,000) and entry fees ($11,250) additional funds are required to assist with visa applications, catering, transport and accommodation during the training period as well as offsetting some of the expenditure already incurred for the expendable clothing gear purchased.

To give them the opportunity to experience life outside of Christmas Island and fish for trout will be something they will talk about for years to come. This was the case for the five guys who attended the Commonwealth Championships where, all things considered, they acquitted themselves very well .

This time, we will be far better prepared and the team will have appropriate intense preliminary coaching both before arriving in Australia and after arrival. Fortunately, we don’t have to teach them to cast as they can all cast into a 10 knot headwind with either hand. Consequently it is just the different techniques that will get the attention. Consequently, with the plans we have in place, we are confident that the team will do well. This will not be just a holiday for them. They will be required to work hard to achieve the best result possible. Apart from participation in the competition, another aim of the trip is to draw attention to the plight of the island ,which is at the highest point only 10 metres above sea level, if the predictions of global warming come to fruition.

If you can consider making a contribution to the fund raising effort it would be appreciated. Donations of $50-100 would assist greatly in making the trip happen with more comfort.  No amount is too small and would be gratefully accepted.

Alfie Kither, our chef for the teams stay during the 2 weeks prior to the competition, would also welcome any donations of vegetables and fruit. Any meat (mutton, venison, chicken, fish – but not road kill) would also be welcome. It doesn’t have to be butchered as he can do that. Any donations of these kinds of foods will have to be from Tassie residents because of the quarantine restrictions.

A separate ANZ account has been set up to facilitate and distribute the monies. If you are interested in helping and can contribute, donations can be made as follows:

Electronic Transfers:

Email niall@learntoflyfish.net for account details.

By Cheque:

Payable to – Nial Logan Project Marketing Pty Ltd T/A Try on Fly

Address – PO Box 5980, Stafford Heights QLD 4053

All deposits will be receipted and a newsletter on the team’s progress will be sent out. Any forthcoming commitment to assist by way of a donation, needs to be completed by 30 September 2019. If, for some reason, the team does not make it to Australia then all monies will be refunded in full.

For Information on the Championship – https://www.wffc2019.com

Contact me by phone or email for more information

Contact: NIAL LOGAN Phone in Aust: 0417 426 282

Email: niall@learntoflyfish.net

Web: www.learntoflyfish.net

 

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

Contribution of Funds Towards Airfares and Costs

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, luggage, waterproof jackets, cool weather clothing, 15 reels, 25 flylines and terminal tackle

Provider of team fishing shirts

Team Supporters by Donations of Cash, Services and Flies

Jim Williams ( Team Captain and training), Peter Woods (Fly tying), Wayne Manion (Sponsor of one of the team members), M & K Crosse (Accommodation), B Jordan (Boat use for training), S Crowley (Boat use for training), R Simpson, B Freier, L Veltman, J Kaufman, C Beech, B Hardie, D O’Brien, P Prideaux, C Scott, A Saarinen (Finland), R Schrueder, C Bowen,  T Christie, J Holmes a Court, M Nowak (USA), J Lomas, M Herron, P Brennan, G Duff, A Saarinen, C Merriman, Tobias Hellman, R Bradford (Canada), G Fane,  Brisbane Fly Fishing Club, D Prestwich, J Borg, D Falconer, T Kempton, D Leathwick, C Smith, T Clarke, M Coles, Mallard and Claret Fly Fishing Club, D Ashton, K Matsuda, J Cochrane, S Lennard, B Thorbecke, D Little, C Miley, Thuy Tran (USA), F Keane, P O’Brien,

Guides Trip to WFFC 2019 in Tasmania

For those unfamiliar, CXI is an abbreviation that refers to Kiritimati (local language spelling for Christmas) Island. It is a small island with a population of 7000 and is located 4 hours flying time east of Fiji and approximately south of Honolulu just north of the equator. The UK and the US conducted atomic tests off the southern end of the island in the early 1950’s. The island is well known in fly fishing circles as the premier destination to sight cast to the numerous bonefish in the shallow, crystal clear waters of the extensive lagoon.

Finally, after a series of false starts, the decision has been made by the management of the Villages Lodge on CXI to field a team of 5 to participate in the World Flyfishing Championship to be held in Tasmania. The plan is to have the team arrive In the Tasmanian Central Highlands on the 15th November and undergo a period of training until the start of the competition on the 30th, participate in the competition until 8th December and return to CXI on 10 Dec 2019. Although they have never fished for trout previously, all the team members are competent fly casters and guides. There is no doubt they will acquit themselves well after undergoing the training that is planned

To enable participation, we have been fortunate that Malcolm Crosse organized permission to enter the team as a “wild card” entry even though Kiritimati is not a member of the FIPS Mouche controlling body. This will not only provide a huge experience for the team members but it will also provide an ideal platform to highlight the looming problems the low lying island faces if the predictions of global warming come to fruition. No doubt, the team will generate considerable media coverage if the 2012 Commonwealth Championship could be used as an indication. A lot of the things we take for granted, will be completely new to them. They have never seen rivers, mountains, cities high rise buildings cows, sheep and much more. One of the lasting comments that was made when a team visited to compete in the Commonwealth Championships in 2012 was made when leaving Launceston Airport on the way to the Central Highlands…..”look the land goes up to join the clouds”.

The team as it stands, pending receipt of medical certificates is Eketi (Team Captain), Beia, Toanikarawa (TK), Kirimento (Menty) and Taatoa. These medical checks have been deemed necessary to ensure that none of the team members have pre-existing conditions that will require ongoing treatment while they are in Australia.

Alfie Kither has once more agreed to cater and cook for the team during the two week training period. Accommodation has been secured at Penstock Lagoon for the two week training period.

This will not be a cheap exercise. The estimated cost of the trip is $40 – 45,000. Entry fees, airfares and transit accommodation alone will total out at about $25,000. Even though the Lodge has agreed to contribute considerable funds to assist with the trip, additional funds will be required for the procurement of such things as some casual wear, team uniforms, embroidery, cool weather gear, catering, transport and accommodation during the training period.

The team has been fortunate in gaining sponsorship for rods, waders, boots and vests which is a huge saving. The necessary reels and flylines for each of the members of the team have been purchased. Approximately $5000 has already been donated along with a quantity of flies. See the list of current sponsors in post –    https://learntoflyfish.net/team-sponsors-and-supporters

To enable these guys to make it to Australia, there is still a lot of work to be done not the least of which is raising some additional funds to assist with their trip. At this point in time there is a shortfall in funds of about $10 – 12,000.

I am sure many of us will have enjoyed the company of the guides and benefited from their expertise on the flats on CXI. To give them the opportunity to experience life outside of Christmas Island and fish for trout would be an experience they will talk about for years to come. This was the case for the five guys who attended the Commonwealth Championships where, all things considered, they acquitted themselves very well . It made such an impression that they still talk about the trip.

I am asking  all fishermen who have visited CXI and who are aware of the challenges of this small island in the middle of the Pacific to consider making a donation to the fund raising effort to help the team compete at the World Fly Fishing Championship.

If a lot of us just donated say $100-$200 each we could make this happen.  This amount is, in most cases, about equivalent to what would be spent on a night out at a restaurant here in Australia. No amount is too small and would be gratefully accepted and assist greatly.

A separate ANZ account has been set up to facilitate and distribute the monies. If you are interested in helping and can contribute, donations can be made as follows:

Electronic Transfers:

Phone Nial on 0417 426 282 for BSB details or send email to niall@learntoflyfish.net

By Cheque:

Payable to – Nial Logan Project Marketing Pty Ltd

Address – PO Box 5980, Stafford Heights QLD 4053

All deposits will be receipted and a newsletter on the team’s progress will be sent out. Any forthcoming commitment to assist by way of a donation, needs to be completed by 30 September 2019. If, for some reason, the team does not make it to Australia then all monies will be refunded in full.

For Information on the Championship – https://www.wffc2019.com

 

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.