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Paradise for anglers

Paradise for anglers

Ever since my parents seriously considered a move to the Cocos Keeling Islands for work 35 years ago I’ve always wanted to fish at the remote Australian territory.

So when Denmark’s Tony Rechichi last year suggested we organise a group to visit Cocos as a way of doing an ‘overseas’ fishing trip during the Covid-19 pandemic I had no hesitation in committing.

Located almost 3000km north-west of Perth, Cocos can be reached by an easy four-hour flight and we had no problems quickly putting together a group of seven keen anglers looking for some tropical sportfishing action.

Our accommodation was the Castle on West Island, a well-appointed house owned for many years by former Australian Test captain Kim Hughes. 

Having never been to Cocos before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and over the years I’d heard many different reports on the fishing there, ranging from outstanding to disappointing.

The more research I did though, the more excited I got as a number of people raved about the fishing at Cocos, and especially the fly fishing on the flats for the ghosts of the flats – bonefish.

I’d heard bonefish were a bit scarce at Cocos, but upon speaking to several Cocos regulars, including a couple that write for Western Angler, it seemed that this wasn’t necessarily true.

Upon our arrival, we settled into our digs and had our gear ready pretty quickly, so we were ready for a fish that afternoon. 

The tides were seemingly unsuitable for the bonefish on the flats, as the water level was dropping, but full of raw enthusiasm we took a drive in the hire car to the bottom of West Island for a look.

When we reach the south-eastern tip I got out for a look and immediately spied three bonefish tailing in the shallows right in front of the car.

That was all the encouragement we needed and we were on the water in minutes, with bonefish virgin Glenn Edwards wading out and catching his first bone with his very first cast!

It ended up being an excellent session, with plenty of fish caught and the average size impressive.

Having fished Kiritimati in the Pacific twice, regarded by many as the most prolific bonefish destination in the world, I had been expecting low numbers of fish but in better sizes than at Kiritimati.

What we found were surprisingly high numbers of bonefish, but definitely a better class of fish overall.

We got fish to 76cm during the week and had some amazingly productive days, catching them on both fly and spin gear.

Most days we got loads of fish, culminating in the penultimate day being spent wading a crystal clear flat in idyllic conditions and catching crazy numbers of fish.

Conditions were so good we could watch bonefish cruise up, inhale our flies, and even watch their jaws moving as they taste tested our offerings.

We got fish both in the lagoon and along the reef edge, also spending a day with the guides at Chasing Tails on the other side of the atoll (there are 27 islands).

Having wanted to get there for so many years, Cocos certainly didn’t disappoint.

We found bluewater fishing tougher, but I did manage a good dogtooth tuna with Cocos Islands Sportfishing and got a nice giant trevally on the flats.

It’s a beautiful spot that I’d recommend for a fishing trip or family holiday, with some lovely swimming beaches where lush coconut palms give way to pure white sand which in turn concedes to gin clear water, with great snorkelling and diving, plus some excellent surfing and kite surfing opportunities.

The pace of life at Cocos is slow, right up until a bonefish tears across the flats on the end of your fly line and you realise that this really is paradise for anglers.

Caption: Glenn Edwards with a solid Cocos Islands bonefish.
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