Ruining a fisheries reputation

The world found out about the chumming at Christmas Island for GTs a few years ago now.  Netting Milkfish, cutting them into chunks and then filling a flat with them.

The GTs are now so used to this, that they hang around the flat and wait to be fed.  The guide then takes 8/0, puts it through a chunk of Milkfish and lobs it out onto the flat.  Big easy fish mean big tips, so I guess it was inevitable.

What makes it worse for me is that anglers then try and cover up the easy recognisable flat by cropping or moving the fish to deeper water.  The real damage however is not just to the ecosystem, this practice has placed doubt in anyones heads of any GT picture taken in Christmas, we now think that practically all of them are caught on bait, chumming, even if thats not the case.

I feel sorry for those few anglers who actually put in the work and got those fish, whose achievement will now be forever in question.

These pics are from a Malaysian angler who did the deed.  At first I thought badly of it, but at least he’s openly admitting to chumming for a bit of a bend, and documented the whole affair.

chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island
chumming for GTs at Christmas Island

This vid of Peter Collingsworth by Sportquest Holidays is pretty much everything thats wrong with the sport:

look at these talented bait fisherman holding their fly rods.  That good old milky chum water:img-135 img-136

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4 thoughts on “Ruining a fisheries reputation”

  1. Ray says:

    Thanks for posting this. A few years back I took a friend to Christmas for two weeks of self drive DIY. I’ve done this a number of time-it’s a lot of work and trial and error, do not try this unless you are prepared to struggle. Most years, I don’t see other fishermen, but there was a group of six staying at our small hotel at Shark Beach that year. My buddy and I would take meals in the evening with this very loud group of old and overweight, pink Americans, and have to listen to their boisterous stories of a dozen GT hook ups a day. My friend and I were doing well with the bonefish and smaller GTs, with the occasional shot at a barn door rooster tailing across the flat. I could tell each evening that my mate was getting frustrated, as he too wanted a big geet, but I convinced him that he didn’t want one of those fake geets! The guys catching these fish were total wankers, who could not cast or had all that much swff experience. Later, one of the more progressive thinking (liberal) guys in the group confessed to me that the guid was baiting their hooks, and that no one actually made a cast to a GT. These were totally undeserved fish, and yes, it does ruin the fishery for legitimate flats fishing.

  2. Peter Collingsworth says:

    Guys, there was no chumming used in the making of this video. yes chumming is taking place on Christmas Island but mainly by lure anglers using lure rods, big hooks and a piece of chum. On the trip we made this video we found a pack of Gt’s on a small flat that were attacking bait fish, if this flat had previously been chummed which is why there was so many fish together we do not know.

    The reason GT fly fishing has declined is now lure anglers are popper fishing hard inside the lagoon where all the fly fishing takes place. When I very first went to Christmas Island, no one had even lure fished with big poppers of the modern day standard. It was great as we had the best popper fishing all around the outside of the island and the best fly fishing inside the lagoon around the flats. With the huge increase in lure anglers from all over the world Christmas now gets very heavily fished by lure anglers, who unfortunately now spend as much time lure fishing all the channels inside the lagoon between the flats.

    Gt’s do not like consent pressure and will move away with it.

    The best thing for Christmas Island is to ban both chumming and lure fishing inside the lagoon keeping it just for fly anglers. You can spend the whole week popper fishing around the outside of the island catching monster GT’s so do not understand why they come inside.

    I have just returned from hosting another group trip and although we did not see the normal amount of large GT’s my group did manage to land 76 GT’s on the fly for the week.

    Can I also say I do know of some of the lodges guides telling customers when the guides are finding it hard to find customers GT’s that its all the fault of chumming. I can tell you after 13 trips over 10 years most of the guides on Christmas are good but there is only a small handful that are any good at guiding GT’s on the fly. Its a totally different ball game.

    Peter Collingsworth

    1. Peter Coetzee says:

      Hi Peter,

      Firstly, thank you for the reply. It is important to note that this post of mine was not done on the fly(excuse the pun), after reading a forum, or even after watching the video. We have quite a large readership and I am not reckless in my opinion. At first I gave all the benefit of the doubt. On three separate trips now I have consulted anglers that have spend well over a century between them fishing Christmas, some being of the first to land GTs in the atolls decades ago.
      My discussions with these men, amongst poster on other forums, and even stakeholders in one of the lodges was how I developed my opinion on the subject.

      In the greater scheme of the sport I have limited experience in catching GTs. I landed my first on fly in Madagascar 14 years ago, and have since had the honour of getting to know these fish in their various Indian Ocean habitats.

      In your reply there is one line that stands out that I agree with completely, “Gt’s do not like consent pressure and will move away with it.” The problem is this sentence contradicts the entire video. The fish at Cosmoledo, Farquhar and in Polynesia have shown us that consistent fishing pressure in a single area with disperse the population, unless they are habituated through feeding and chum, much like the “pet GTs” of the aforementioned areas. However these habituated fish become too intelligent with their human interaction, and hours of experimentation will show that after time they will not take a lure or popper, and can distinguish instantly between when they are being fed, and when they are being fooled (or attempts at fooling them).

      I cannot believe that “wild” fish would continually come and feed on this same flat, and in this circumstance alone would defy the rule of constant pressure that you yourself admitted, without being baited into an area. Further to this, the lack of hook-up shots (the cornerstone of any GT fishing video) are completely lacking. So in closing, I acknowledge your response, but the evidence, testimony, and statements of those that have fished on the same flat are in perfect contradiction. I sincerely hope you respond by filming anglers chasing down angry Geets on foot, and get those chase shots. When that happens I will offer my apology publicly and humbly, but I reserve that until such time.

      Kind Regards,
      Peter Coetzee

  3. Ray says:

    Assuming six fishermen
    Six days fishing
    76 free range GTs?
    11 geets per angler for the week?
    2 GTs per person per day?
    Thats a hell of a guide tip, or at least I hope it was.
    Here’s were I have trouble with the guide explanation.
    Christmas is not that big that guides would not be able to figure out what the “good” GT guides were doing to get clients on fish. There are no secrets on an island atoll, so I am not convinced it comes down to good guide vs average guides. Guiding is a hierarchical social structure in all fisheries, especially islands. I’m sure that the guides fiercely protect their status and fishing. I can even admit that they have the season, tides and moon phases totally figured out for GTs, and I’m sure this is what you base your trips on. I’ve done a few trips to xmas and I usually stay a few weeks at a stretch. I don’t fish every day so I’ve had some time with the I-Kiribati. A few cava sessions, some afternoon Palm sap wine socials, yadda, yadda. Afterwards, it always strikes me how obvious it is that everyone knows everyone’s shit on xmas. It’s an island thing. Coming upon numbers of predatory fish on bait is indeed exciting and an amazing experience. Who doesn’t love that shit, but in wild, natural conditions, it is not that predictable. I’ve talked to plenty of folks who have substantiated the chumming phenomenon, including plenty of fishermen. I first visited xmas in 2000. I was a bit late to the game, but back then there were heaps of milkfish all around the atoll. These days it seems that milkfish are more difficult to find. This is obviously due to overfishing which is a result of the huge influx of migrants from the main island. Most islanders buy farmed milkfish now, most of which is shipped to Tawara. Xmas represents the promise land to people on the very crowded and resource depleted Tawara chain. They arrive with every supply boat. Just take a walk into the more remote regions of xmas. I saw bush camps everywhere! This leads me to wonder if perhaps the geets are now concentrating on the few remaining milkfish schools, I don’t know, that’s just speculation. If they are, then perhaps they are more susceptible to chumming? The I-Kiribati couldn’t real care. It’s all just a silly way to catch fish that you’re not gong to eat, but for those of us who pursue wild fish on the fly, it just doesn’t feel right. I’m with Peter. I’m not exactly sure what I’m seeing in these videos and photos. I do know for a fact that chumming is a common practice inside the lagoon, and this Kind of deflates the GT experience, legitimate or otherwise.

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