Black Bass vs Barra
The pinnacle of Australia freshwater fishing would have to be the Barramundi. Growing to to 1.5m long and punishing any wrong move from anglers, these fish have drawn the attention of Australian Anglers. With our trip to PNG to chase Black Bass, we weren’t expecting to tussle with any barramundi but the great thing about these pristine waterways is the by-catch.
The Barramundi in PNG are all wild river fish and in good numbers. As traditionally fickle fish, Barra out fished bass by at least 5 to 1, which attests to the difficult nature of catching Black Bass. Having never caught a barramundi before, I can only say that they are beautiful fish and readily hit artificially baits.
The Black Bass was the sole purpose of our trip, casting lures around snaggy country that looked like structure that we’d fish around for bream (albeit on much, much lighter gear). The Bass hit like freight trains, my first hit from a bass was greeted with laughs from our guide as he watched my line tighten and reel peel an ample amount of line, my eyes virtually popped out of my head as I nearly lost my z2020/TMX-G combo. That first bite resulted in a bit of a sit down from me, to process the shear power of these fish, it didn’t help that our guide explained that it was no doubt a small bass that had a go at my Halco.
I can only compare Greg’s 25lb (99cm) barra versus my 22lb bass and the similarity in our setup. Greg’s barra had two goes at his lure and was visible from the boat, as it took off, Greg controlled the fish with a totally locked up drag until our guide suggested Greg back off the drag, for the purpose of enjoying the fight. Up until that stage, the Barra couldn’t move the locked drag on the Daiwa z2020 but with a slight adjustment had the barra peeling line off until finally being controlled to the boat.
Now, if the Barra are chalk, then bass are cheese. My 22lb bass hit my lure with such force and speed that it was back under some snags before I could even get a thumb to add additional pressure to the Daiwa Pluton. With some quick thinking (and a lot of luck) we backed up on the bass and extracted it from the snag and with it’s next run, had me on my knees and eventually on my bum with my feet locked firmly against the gunwales. This thing was peeling line off the locked drag of the larger Pluton, like I was fishing with a 2000 sized spin reel and had hooked a big kingfish on 2lb.
We were able to determine between the types of fish by the initial hit. I hard, bone-jarring take, that stripped line off our locked up reels, would indicate a bass, while a relatively soft bump would indicate a barra. After the first hour of day one, we were craving the hit of a bass and were considering the barra as by-catch.
I am well aware of how hard Barra pull but side-by-side against a Black Bass, these Barra were the ugly, hairy, smelly sister of PNG fishing and due to our experience with the Bass will remain the inferior species (actually any other light tackle species will be).
Having spent six days fishing for bass and getting barra as by-catch, my tip for any light tackle, big fish angler, is to spend the money on chasing black bass. These fish are everything they’ve been chalked up to be and more and well worth the dollars, time off work and long days of casting.