The Bad Bass of the Lost World
Imagine...hooking bass which can drop a 200 lbs man to his knees! Imagine... a bass so powerful which can be compared to hooking a freight train! A bass so destructive that it can destroy the strongest hooks, pull out wire harnesses, and even break lures in half! A bass which laughs at American black bass tackle! A bass whose environment cannot be any tougher to survive in! These brutes are found in humid, malaria ridden, densely vegetated, snag infested waters.
Impossible you say? Contrary my friend! These swimming time bombs exist in the jungle waterways of Papua New Guinea. These bass on steroids are accustomed to harsh environments battling strong currents after months of raging flood waters. These bass head to the sea for spawning only to return to their freshwater homes.
Papua New Guinea is located north of Australia. It is essentially a land that time forgot. Stories abound of cannibalism, witchcraft, red toothed natives armed with machetes, waring tribes, 2 pound mosquitoes, giant snakes, and giant saltwater crocs pulling fishermen out of boats!
By now your thinking, why would anybody venture into this death trap? Well, it is in my blood, to beat the best of the best on their home turf!
Few Americans or matter of fact, barely anyone worldwide has battled a Papua New Guinea Black Bass. So, obtaining advise on tackle, outfitters, and the best times to go were obtained from a privileged few from Australia and Asia. For fish reaching upwards of 40 lbs, the advise was insane! 200 lbs braid, 6X Owner treble hooks, 300 lbs Wolverine triple coiled split rings, short, XXXH saltwater jigging rods, 300 lbs Kevlar leaders, and the strongest reels we could get our hands on such as the Shimano TranX. We were advised to lock the drags down to keep these bass out of their snag infested homes. Now the only problem was locating someone to take us into this Land which Time forgot.
After months of research and numerous phone calls worldwide, our group of six is introduced to Jason Yip of www.sportfishingpng.net. Jason, a fourth generation Chinese businessman, lives in Port Moresby which is the capitol of Papua New Guinea. Jason has secured exclusive rights from local tribesmen to lead groups of fishermen into the Gulf Region which is one of the least commercialized Provinces in Papua New Guinea. Jason claims to have seen bass in excess of 70 pounds, but says they are impossible to land!
Our group of six experienced International fishermen decide to take a chance on life and book a trip in July. Expectations are hooking a few bass a day, but good luck landing the brutes. Monster barramundi are a by catch along with a variety of other possible species.
The group heads out of Chicago to Port Morseby which is practically around the world! We are driven in 4 wheel drive vehicles to the Gulf Region which takes about 5 hours over dirt roads having more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese! We indeed pass by many of the red toothed natives armed with machetes. The natives run out of their huts to see the circus coming through town. Probably we are the first white skinned humans they have encountered!
Once arriving at camp, Terapo Mission, which is an old Catholic Mission sandwiched between the Lakekamu and Tari Rivers we partner up and head out for a half day of fishing near the river mouth.
Jason advises us to cast lures such as Rapala Super Shad Raps, Rapala cd-18s, Rapala Magnum 15 and 20, Sebile Koolie Minnows, Halco deep diving minnows, or other diving lures which have wire through construction. Papua New Guinea bass will attack top water lures also, so many Halco Roosta Poppers are packed.
Our group of six, returns with stories of snapped braid, broken rods, stripped out reel drags, bent hooks, screws pulled out of lures, numerous lures lost to snags, and boats actually being pulled into snags by these brutes! We all wonder what have we gotten into!
Papua New Guinea bass live in snag feasted waters
Having caught monster barramundi up to 70 pounds and a few smaller bass, we decide to head up river to the Okaui Black Bass Camp which is about a 2 hour boat ride. Jason says the bass fishing is much better here than near the river mouth. We fish along the way concentrating on casting to exposed logs and numerous log jams. All three boats stop by a hot spot and cast repeatedly for about 20 minutes. I figure we are the only boats in the entire country of Papua New Guinea fishing at the moment and we are all crowded in the same spot! Well, after hooking the first big bass of the trip, I find out why. The bass literally knocks me off my feet, dragging me to the front of the boat and almost overboard (I weigh over 200 pounds)! The bass burns drag off my locked down TranX. Luckily, I am able to keep it out of the snags. Guide, Joe, gets the bass into the net after a tiresome battle. The bass pushes the boga grip over 40lbs. Shortly after, another in the group lands a bass in the mid 30s from the same exposed log.
The first monster Papua New Guinea Black Bass which pulled me off my feet Precision casting is a key as literally hundreds of casts from all possible angles to
within inches of structure is necessary to tempt these brutes. Most of the bass will strike while shooting back into their snag infested home, so you have a split second to turn these beasts on steroids.
The Okaui Black Bass Camp is as remote as it gets. A two story wooden frame structure was built per Jason's blueprints in one the local tribe's village! Each of us had our “own room” complete with floor-no walls, air mattress, mosquito netting, and a machete to handle things which might crawl into our beds. However, the meals and sleeping quarters are satisfactory especially in this remote world! After a drenching day of making 10,000 casts with broom stick rods in temperatures exceeding 100deg, the camps hot shower (fire heated water) was an added bonus.
Our home at the Okaui Black Bass Camp
During evenings we would sit around the camp fire, retelling stories of the day over a few beers. One evening the hottest vocal group in the jungle treat us to all their hits hopefully wishing we have connections with record companies!! We brought along with us generous donations from Cargill and American Legacy Fishing Company to give to the local tribe's children. They much appreciated the gifts and the kids loved the footballs and soccer balls!
Kenny, an Ambassador of the Tribes in the Gulf Region, is with us through the stay. He is a big man weighing in excess of 200 pounds which is extremely rare for this area. Kenny is over 40 years of age which is practically unheard of here. One morning I ask Kenny what will happen if any of the natives steal our baggage. Kenny responds with a “they will be killed” answer. I come to believe if Kenny was not constantly looking over our shoulder we might have been the nights meal in the village!
Bass to 46lbs are caught the remaining days with the occasional barramundi to 70lbs being landed. Jason Yip lands the IGFA all tackle World Record bass of 46lbs during our stay.
Friends Jim Reed and Steve Ryan with a monster 70lbs barramundi
Fishing is exceptionally tough as bass are not found everywhere. Water clarity, current,
and depth are also factors, as constant rains can cause a high, muddy river making
fishing impossible. Luckily , the rain gods are with us this week. Jason Yip's, IGFA all tackle World Record Papaun Black Bass weighing in at 46lbs
There is more than fishing on this Adventure trip! Jason takes us to one of the tribal villages where we are presented the “Golden Rulers” which represent the “Keys to their Kingdom”. We visit the local school and are presented with a drill by the school children. Broken English is spoken by the natives, so we are all able to understand each other. I purchase a bow and arrow from one of the tribesman and will hang in my house next to the blowgun I got in Africa.
The local village is make up of numerous huts and a church as missionaries have visited this remote area. A basketball court is present as the children use coconuts for basketballs. Figure they are terrific shooters, but terrible dribblers. These folks rely on the river and surroundings to survive. Villagers are sometimes gone for weeks at a time paddling bananas to Port Moresby to sell.
One morning, guide Charles, asks me if we can motor to his village which is a short boat ride from camp. He assures me the natives are friendly, so I give him the OK. A few minutes after we arrive, a white man with a white beard comes running out of his hut. He asks about the shootings in Aurora, Colorado as he is originally from Denver. He heard about the shootings on his ham radio which is his only means of contact with modern civilization.
I ask myself what makes a guy from Denver arise one morning and decide to spend the rest of his life in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea? Maybe he heard about the great fishing!
The trip exceeded my expectations with the quality of bass and barramundi. The experiences I encountered with the tribal natives will last forever! I would go back in a heartbeat to try and land one of those 70lbs bass Jason says swim in the waters of the Gulf Region.
For more information on Papua New Guinea Bass, contact Steve Yatomi at www.adventuretravelalliance.com or you can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friend, Steve Ryan's, monster Papua New Guinea bass