There’s just something about Giant Trevally that produce extreme joy. Google “Giant Trevally Fly Fishing Images”, and besides seeing some of the biggest meanest looking fish on the planet, you’ll see the worlds biggest smiles.
Christmas Island is home to a very healthy GT population and just as importantly, some of the world’s best GT Fly Fishing Guides, such as Moana Kofe and Simon Corrie, who guide out of the Ikari House.
Still, even fishing at the best GT places on earth, it takes a lot of dedication. On my first trip to Christmas Island, my travel partner informed me he’d been trying to catch one off and on for 10 years at other locations around the globe without success. Given this, we started out throwing poppers with a big spinning rod and after finding a couple, moved on to fly fishing, which is what we’ll talk about here.
The first part of being dedicated is loosening up the grip on your VISA and getting the right equipment, which is a 12wt- not a 10wt, a 12wt. A big GT, which will run over 70 pounds, simply cannot be turned around without the strongest tackle. If you’re lucky enough to hook up “a big one”, suddenly that 12wt will feel like you’re playing a steelhead on a 2wt. My personal best GT was approximately 90lbs, and I lost a bigger one that pulled the hook out after a 300 yard run. They’re one mean fish!
Then there’s the coral, so you need extra heavy abrasion resistant stuff, a good start being 80lb FC Tippet. I like the Frog Hair brand because it’s hard, like clear wire. Standard fly lines have a 30lb test core, but Rio’s Leviathan Fly Lines have a 75lb test core and are a must have. Attach the fly line to 60 feet + of 100lb + braid, which I call “shock backing” for lack of a better name. This section of heavy braid is attached to your backing with opposing uni-knots, AFTER tying Bimini-twists to create the strongest possible connections. This is a fairly serious knot tying exercise, but produces a chain with no weak links.
When choosing flies, I really look for the biggest strongest hooks that will still fit in my vice, like 6/0 heavy wire saltwater models or tuna live bait hooks. But don’t go for tying giant flies- you want something you can cast well- so a 4” to 5” long Sea Habit or Sardinia streamer is perfect. GT’s are the apex predator on the flats and lagoons, and everything is TERRIFIED when they are around, so mostly GT’s attack movement. You can’t make a fly flee in terror if you can’t cast it, and I’ve seen a lot of blown GT’s opportunities because an oversize fly pattern hindered a fast cast.
Around the flats GT’s hunt at high speed; typically your guide will carry your 12wt while you fish for bonefish, and when a GT suddenly appears, you trade rods and get your fly out there as fast as possible- FAST being the operative word. Between stripping off line and getting a cast going usually it’s too late, but when it all comes together the reward is a very violent surface take, then a long high speed run as you slosh thru the water as fast as possible to the edge of the coral, while holding your rod high. This is where fly lines are shredded and sometimes lost, but if you make it thru this part you’ve got a good chance of bringing your first GT to hand!
GT’s also love to eat small milkfish, which will school up on top of very shallow flats as protection from predators. This works well—until the tide goes out. GT’s have a keen sense of smell and will know when a bunch of milkfish are schooled up and will wait in ambush. Places like this are harder to find, but when you do it’s a guaranteed hookup.
Last but not least is trolling along the edges of the flats. While not a popular tactic it is effective and a good way to turn lunchtime into fishing time, or give your casting arm a break.
Besides Bonefish and GT’s the flats of Christmas Island offer great fishing for Triggerfish and Baby Trevally. Out in the Blue Water you can keep giving your 12wt a workout on Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Barracuda and the occasional Sailfish.
Flats Boots, Sun Clothes, Sun Gloves, Sunscreen, Buff, Good Sunglasses, 12wt outfit, Fly reel with 50lb or better yet 80lb backing, 2 or 3 Leviathan fly lines, 80lb Frog Hair FC Leader, Streamers on strong hooks that you can cast well plus and a couple Poppers on strong hooks.