Fishabout

PNG BLACK BASS AND BARRA EXPERIENCE

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  • Fish for: Barramundi, Black Bass
  • Available seasons: May - November
  • Location: PNG
  • Recommended stay: 7 Days
  • Accomodation: Lodge, Village Camp
  • Other activities: Bird Watching, Sightseeing, Wildlife
  • Pricing: $5200 USD (ex Port Moresby)

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The rivers of PNG are big and wild, and the fish are bigger and wilder!

THIS IS A TRUE WILDERNESS TRIP!!!!

Catch huge Papuan Black Bass and Barramundi on this once in a lifetime remote fishing adventure to Papua New Guinea's gulf rivers region. Fish hundreds of kilometres of virgin fishing waters for world record size fish. Black Bass up to 50lb (pending WR), and the 46lbs current world record Papuan Black Bass have been caught in these rivers. Barramundi up to 70lbs have been caught in these rivers. Come and fish the untouched wilderness that is Papua New Guinea!

At once an adventure and fishing expedition of a lifetime, this is a "trophy hunters" expedition for PNG Black Bass and Barramundi in the gulf province of PNG.
The Gulf province is remote and one of the least commercialised provinces in PNG. Travelling by road, it is about 4-5 hours and approximately 280km away from Port Moresby.

Your first two days are spent on the lower reaches of the Lakekamu and Popo rivers, targeting Barramundi and Black Bass, with species such as Golden Snapper, Mangrove Jack, Threadfin Salmon and more also available. During this time you will stay at a comfortable fishing lodge, situated in-between two rivers; The Tauri River and the Lakekamu River.

On the third day you will take the boats on a scenic trip to the upper reaches of the Lukekamu River near Okavi, where the remote Bass camp is situated. From here you can explore the many tributaries tucked away at the base of the mountains, where world record size Black Bass abound.
Prepare to have your fishing gear tested to the maximum by these massive river monsters.

There are are a minimum of 6 and maximum of 8 anglers per tour.

The tour is 7days/6 nights (5.5 days Fishing), which includes a good mix of lower and upper reach fishing, giving plenty of opportunity to hook into some monster Black Bass and huge Barramundi.

Example Tour Itinerary (7 days / 6 nights) ex Port Moresby

Day 1: Travel to the lodge at Terapo, taking approximately 4-5 hours by road from Port Moresby. On arrival, unload your gear, enjoy a cold drink and head out on the boats to one of the many river mouths. Commence fishing the mouth for Barramundi, Black Bass and other fish species (GTs, cods and jacks). Return to Lodge for dinner.
Day 2: The second day of fishing at the river mouths, trying several other tributaries. Depending on the fishing conditions you may also fish upriver. Return to lodge for dinner. Pack and prepare for the trip to Okavi village Black Bass camp lodge.
Day 3: Travel and fish on the way to the Bass camp lodge. Fish the afternoon in the ultimate of Black Bass waters, looking for king size PNG Black Bass.
Day 4: Fish a mix of the upper tributaries depending on where the best waters are.
Day 5: You may either continue the hunt for big black Bass in the upstream camp today, or decide to return to Terapo lodge in the morning, fishing any likely Bass waters on the way down before fishing at mouth of the river in the afternoon. Return to lodge for dinner
Day 6: Either return to Terapo lodge before continuing down to fish the mouth of the Lakekamu River, or if you have already returned, spend a full day fishing at rivers near lodge and down toward the mouth. Return to lodge for final night.
Day 7: Depart lodge and return to Port Moresby full of memories of monster fish!


Tour includes:

Accommodation at Terapo Lodge and village camp lodge upriver
Transport (4x4) to/from Port Moresby
Vessel and equipment and guides
All meals and non-alcoholic drinks
Community fishing fees & cultural performances
Recommended to bring your own fishing equipment and tackle, however tackle and equipment can be hired at extra cost.

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PNG, Pleasure and Pain (A trip to the Gulf Rivers)

Article by Stefan Hansson

 

Papua New Guinea is at once so close and so far. A wild place where wild stories abound. Kokoda, the odd eco-lodge, mining outpost and surfing camp are as far as the few foreigners around usually venture into its wilderness. Maybe it's tales about the legendary rough and tumble of Port Moresby, or stories of red toothed natives with machetes. Maybe its the mosquitoes. Whatever it is that holds us back, the worries seem more unfounded by the day.
What awaits the adventurous is a modern day Jurassic park, where the animals of the jungle run wild, and the smiles of friendly locals beam at you from the roadside through the wafting smoke of a barbequing Wallaby. A place where the rivers are big and the fish are bigger!
The two fish most regularly on the mind of PNG adventure anglers are New Guinea Black Bass (Lutjanus goldiei) and the legendary Barramundi. Black Bass are rightly rated as the number one freshwater fighting fish, pound for pound, anywhere in the world. Stories of busted lures, bent hooks and broken rods can be found around every piscatorial corner. Add to this big Barramundi that regularly exceed the metre mark and often top 60lb's, and you can see the appeal of this place.

Travelling and fishing in remote parts of PNG requires a huge amount of organisation and logistical work, of the kind not really possible unless you live there. Enter Jason Yip, a fourth generation PNG Chinese, and a man the Gulf province locals call ‘crocodile'. Yes, it takes a thick skin to persist with the time and energy that Jason has in order to get permission to access these places, and the locals respect that. They also see his tireless efforts to help out, as everything from medical supplies to footballs are delivered to the villages around the fishing camps.

Our group converged on Port Moresby from Australia and America, with many of the Americans pushing through the havoc caused by hurricane Sandy and 30 hours of travelling to arrive exhausted. We were picked up from the airport and escorted to our accommodation late in the evening, where the group relaxed and got to know each other over a nice dinner of steak and foot long prawns, and made ready to be picked up at 6.00am the next morning.
And so we began, the convoy of confidence if no consequence, leaving Moresby in our dust cloud, Jason in the lead. It was a short 4.5 hour drive, towing our four boats over what must be the greatest number of speed humps per kilometre ever to grace bitumen anywhere in the world. Past the vast swampland that marks the beginning of the gulf province, until we arrived at Terapo Mission. Terapo mission is an old Catholic mission sandwiched between the Lakekamu and Tauri rivers. A beautiful old wooden building that was to be our main base, as we embarked on our wild river Black Bass and Barramundi hunt.
Lures for Barramundi and lures for Bass are often quite similar in shape and appearance. They are, however, certainly not similar in strength. Jason takes great pleasure in showing us some of the lures that didn't make the grade before we leave. A Barra Classic which was being used to target Barra till a Bass chose not to follow the plan. The two remaining hook seats that hadn't been completely pulled out of the lure were mangled beyond recognition. The hooks themselves were nonexistent. Our nerves began to jangle.

Everyone on this trip was prepared however, and i must admit on our first day to thinking it was overkill. 50lb rods were the norm, with baitcasters punching 20+lbs of drag, spinning reels with 40+lbs. Braid of 50, 80, and even 100lb was held by FG knots to our 80-150lb leaders. All our lures were wired through. 3x extra strong VMC treble hooks and split rings had been removed and replaced by their tougher cousin, Owner ST-66's or even ST-76's with 80lb hyperwire split rings. All that was left was to test it all out.

Leaving Terapo around lunchtime after dropping off our gear we jumped in the boats, split the groups and headed down to the mouth of the Lakekamu and Popo rivers. Barramundi abound at my first destination, fishing amongst the myriad of mangroves and nippa palms at the mouth of the Lakekamu, and it wasn't long before i saw some action. Casting at a point with a steep drop off that obviously caused eddies and congregated fish, i used Xrap 15s and Jonesys C-Boss lures to good effect. The first fish i landed was just a pup at around 80cms, but as the tide came in and the water warmed, the bite intensified. A couple more Barra around the same size added to a good size Golden Snapper and a few Estuary Cod, while the boys next to me landed a nice metre plus Barra. To round out the afternoon the unexpected prize of a 17lb New Guinea Black Bass and i felt good. Not a bad first afternoon in anyone's books.

Trading stories over dinner that night, it seemed that there were mixed results on the first day. Colder water on the Popo had shut things down a bit, and tides on that afternoon were not conducive to good warmer saltwater exchange. Hopes were not dented though, as the two groups swapped rivers for the next morning. Lakekamu turned things on again with Barra and Mangrove Jack the star species, and Popo, though still cool, threw up Barra, Threadfin Salmon and even a couple of 10lb Bass. We did hook bigger Bass on the Popo that day. Bass big enough to bring you to your knees as they buried themselves back into the snags. The results of these encounters were predictably one sided. Our efforts live baiting for Qld Groper in the same area were one sided too.

I came to understand the necessity of our stronger gear that day. Fishing freshwater for lutjanids with 50lb Braid, 80lb Leader and a t-curve 6-12kg rod matched with an upgraded Calcutta 300TE was what many would call overreach. After that everything changed. It was 50lb rods and the tackle to match from that moment on.

The next few days were going to be spent up river, at the remote village lodge in Okavai about a 2 hour boat ride from the Terapo Mission. As our four boats convoyed up the river, fishing along the way and peppering various drains for a hint of the really big Black Bass that we had come so far for, all of the boats hit a hot spot filled with numerous log jams at the mouth of a drain. One of the Americans suddenly hooked into a "midget submarine", and as we all watched gobsmacked, he was pulled from the back of the boat to the front only to fall on his face. Amongst some mirth, he regained his senses, kept the steamrolling sub out of the snags and was rewarded with the bass of all our dreams. The beast pulled the scales down to 29lb. It was an auspicious start, but one we were soon to learn the hard way is not always the norm.

For the next few days while we fished in the pristine jungle of Okavi, we were - in equal measure, broken, beaten up, bruised, schooled, pushed, pulled, elated, and every now and then, just totally stoked, by these uncompromising freshwater beasts of the deep. Trying to land fish that can pull as hard as a Black Bass can, in rivers often only 3 metres wide, with logs and snags and holes and sharp foliage, can lead to some very interesting outcomes. Seeing soft plastic hooks designed for GT's just open up under the strain is pretty eye opening. Snapping 50lb rods is heartbreaking. Fishing in the untouched wilderness around Okavi, however, is awe-inspiring.

As we fished, hornbills up to a metre long with wingspans pushing 2 metres berate the air around us. Travelling up small creeks, the largest pigeons in the world, the incredibly beautiful and somewhat rotund Victoria Crowned Pigeon, suddenly erupt before you. Innumerable other endemic creatures fill the sights and sounds of this last frontier.

Fishing for Black Bass is an adventure, at times hard work, at times incredibly rewarding. It wasn't until my last day at the remote camp that those rewards were extended to me. A log in ‘fish creek', which had seen maybe 300 casts at it, from almost everyone on the trip over three days, was to take my last cast. Jason, who had just hooked a really good fish and been done on a log two minutes earlier, patiently encouraged me to keep casting, keep casting, keep casting, till BANG. The fight may have only lasted two minutes, but it was the longest two minutes of my life. I wrestled the fish out of the log and pulled it onto the surface before, in its unhappiness, it turned, and dove back for the log in one of the most impressive displays of short term strength i have ever felt or seen from a fish.

The next thing i remember was another bang. This time it was my 50lb rod - a brand new, graphite, helically wrapped, stonker of a rod, which had snapped clean in half. Somehow, the fish was still attached, the fight became a wrestle, communication broke down on board, and by a mix of luck and good management, the 33lb beast was netted. Im sure i scared some natives with the scream of joy. It was by no means the biggest fish caught on the trip, with a horse of a 44lb fish and Okavi camp record landed the day before, but it made everything worth it.

We meandered back down to the Terapo lodge later that morning, dropped off some gear, and took the opportunity to hit the saltwater mouth of the Lakekamu again. It was a fishy afternoon, and the group caught numerous species including two Barra which cracked the 40lb mark, Threadfin Salmon, mangrove jack, fingermark, a Queensland groper that would have pulled the scales at over 60kilos if we had anything which could weigh it, catfish, cod, and a couple of small GT's.

Plenty to reminiss about as we travelled back to Port Moresby, with new experiences, new friends, and big fish in the bag.

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