A journey of 10,000 miles came down to an additional 50 feet…the distance that separated my fly from the trophy GT (Giant Trevally) that was cruising down one of the numerous sand flats of the stunning Kiritimati Island (also known as Christmas Island).
Kiritimati Island is one of the “Line Islands” of Kiribati that run both north and south of the equator in an area of the Pacific about 1200 miles south of Hawaii. It has the largest land area of any coral atoll in the World…by any measure it is huge.
The island got its name from its discovery by Capt. James Cook on Christmas Eve in 1777. Christmas became Kiritimati which is pronounced roughly as “kee-rees-mass” in the local Glibertese language of the native people.
The island is positioned just west of the International Date Line and as a result is the first inhabited island to begin each new day and year.
“To see the new break of the day…”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXrZ-k333aw
The above video gives an excellent perspective on Kiritimati Island including debunking the global warming claims of the island sinking into non-inhabitable status, an overview of the nuclear testing effects, the tuna fishing that is heavily impacting the environment of the island, and the people and how they view life. They are a truly remarkable people, totally unique to me. Hard to describe because they are so different from our heritage.
It is one of the most remote places on Earth…and also one of the poorest. To get there from Houston, you must schedule your arrival in Honolulu in advance of the once weekly flight to Kiritimati. Miss that flight opportunity and you will wait one week before getting another one…likewise, departing the island you have one opportunity a week…and if the weather is bad, you wait a week and try again. It is not a place for everyone, but for the adventurous angler, it is a place where trophy GT’s on the fly (those over 30 pounds) are a legitimate possibility.
So what’s special about a GT? They are a powerful predator that stalks the flats for unsuspecting fish. Faster than any other flats fish or fish that an angler can take by sight fishing. Certainly more powerful than any other flats fish in my experience.
Watch how these GT’s suddenly appear and terrorize these bait fish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=r4mA6WsFJQE
They can destroy all but the most rigorous fly fishing tackle as well as strike fear into the hearts of seasoned guides who see them suddenly appear on a flat and disappear just as quickly. I talked to guides of over 20 years who say that no matter how many times you have seen them appear, your heart skips beats in the excitement of watching the supreme flats predator in action.
I tried to prepare for this encounter by rigging a 12 wt rod with a high quality reel and a drag system that can withstand a fish ripping straight 130 pound test leader and special GT fly line and backing just like it was nothing. The drag is so heavy when tight that you cannot manually strip line out to cast without considerably lessening the drag…but the GT can rip out 300 yards faster that you can believe with that drag fully tightened. They will break any rod made on that first run, unless you point it at the fish.
So, you have the right equipment, have endured the hardships of traveling the 10,000 miles, and now need only to deliver the big brush fly out 50 feet in the vicinity of the fast approaching predator. It isn’t easy. The guide yells “GT, GT, GT !!! “ moving right to left, 50 feet CAST NOW, CAST NOW, CAST NOW, and then excitedly says “let it sink” followed by an electrifying “STRIP! STRIP! STRIP!” faster, faster…and then you see your line start flying off the drag tightened reel in the wake left by the fleeing GT. You must hope and pray that somehow the fish does not cut you off on the wicked coral that is everywhere or completely strips the 400 yards of backing from your reel or somehow otherwise eludes your grasp.