May 06, 2023
The saltwater fly-fishing world smiled this week when news broke that after more than three long years of COVID-19 lockdown precautions, the Christmas Island atoll, best known for big bonefish and giant trevally (GTs) has reopened to vaccinated travelers. Christmas Island, an atoll in the Republic of Kiribati, is located about 2,400 miles south of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
Word came of the island‘s reopening to international travelers on May 2 from a variety of news reports, including from Christmas Island’s main news source, the Marianas Variety.
Fiji Airways flights marked the return of travelers and fly anglers to Christmas Island after it had been shuttered for approximately 37½ months. A news release from the Tourism Authority of Kiribati (TARAWA) stated that weekly flight service has been restored.
“Following months of rigorous airport facility and airline compliance checks and clearance by the Civil Aviation Authority of Kiribati and Fiji Airways, Kiritimati welcomed travelers through Fiji Airways services from Nadi, Fiji and Honolulu, Hawaii,” noted the newspaper story.
Pat Pendergast, of The Fly Shop in Redding, California, is excited to see the fishery again.
“It's going to be very interesting to see what the fishery and services are like after three-plus years of being closed,” Pendergast said.
A tweet from the Visit Kiribati Twitter account (@KiribatiInfo) showed photos of fly anglers being welcomed back to the island paradise at Cassidy International Airport.
A similar post by Fiji Airways (@FijiAirways) indicated "With the return of our services to Christmas Island, we are now back at 100 percent of all pre-COVID routes served by Fiji Airways.".
Airport arrivals are one thing, but the fishing is another. Fly anglers are stoked to again chase Christmas Island bonefish and GTs that haven’t seen a fly for more than three years. The expectation is that there will be some epic long-rod action for the huge bones, trevallys, and other saltwater species that have lured travelers to the Pacific island for many years.
The Marianas newspaper account gave fly fishers the happy news this week, quoting the news release as saying: “Fly fishing enthusiasts who have been patient and have supported Kiritimati Island throughout its three years of closure can expect world class experiences when they return to the island’s well preserved fishing flats this week.”
According to the news story, Fiji Airways “…will operate weekly services from Nadi, Fiji and Honolulu, Hawaii and travelers are required to present their vaccination certificate (double vax) upon check in. Covid-19 checks are no longer required upon arrival however persons displaying Covid-19 or flu like symptoms upon arrival are required to visit the local health center for medical check.”
So s trip to Christmas Island might again be in order. Odds are, it will provide some of the best bonefishing action that a fly angler could ever experience.
Lynn Burkhead is a Senior Digital Editor with Outdoor Sportsman Group.