Papua New Guinea – Baddest Bass on Earth (Words and images by Robert Daly)

Bob Daly with a 40 pound Trophy Black Bass

In 2011 Chris and I flew to PNG to wrestle with the infamous Black Bass, guided by jason Yip from Sportfishing PNG.  You can read about our adventure here.

Throughout the year, Bob Daly from Chicago contacted me with questions about the trip, recommendations for tackle and lodgings, and he’s just returned from an unforgettable, and very successful adventure, halfway around the world.

You can read his story here, or if you’re as impatient as me and after a bit of instant gratification, scroll straight to the bottom and check out the image gallery first!  To tempt you, they caught 4 Bass over 40 pounds (2 x 40 pounders, a 42 and one that is arguabaly a world record at 46 pound).  Add to this 2 Barra over 70 pound, I’m really regretting that Chris and I couldn’t get back there again this year.  Bring on 2013…!

Having had the opportunity to chase monster freshwater fish in practically every region on this planet, the group has talked of fishing for Papua New Guinea black bass for years.  After much planning by friend Steve Ryan, the dream would come true as we booked a trip to venture into the remote jungles of the Gulf Province lead by Jason Yip of Jason leads a few groups into this remote region  targeting trophy black bass and barramundi.

Much tackle preparation went into this trip, far exceeding any trip I had previous taken.  On advise from well known angler, Larry Dahlberg, I spooled my TranX HG with 200lbs PowerPro.  I used a short/stout heavy duty Quantum saltwater jigging rod as Larry said these bass are the meanest on earth and will destroy your tackle.  Friend Steve Yatomi has previously fished for PNG bass and says “  you cannot hunt elephants using a peashooter” as he lost a few monsters on his last trip.  I replaced all lure split rings with the super strong Wolverine Triple coiled  rings and all hooks with super strong Owner ST-76.  I now felt  confident I had the right tackle to handle these bass on steroids as I most likely could stop a car with this gear!

July 22nd finally arrived.  We left Chicago for a flight to Los Angeles.  A good meal was eaten before the long flight to Brisbane Australia.  We had a few hours layover before a flight to Port Moresby, PNG.  We flew past the date line so none of us knew what day or time it was! Jason had arranged his staff to greet us at the airport and drive us to the Holiday Inn.  We had a great meal with Jason and some of the PNG tourism staff before getting some much-needed sleep.

Early in the morning Jason along with his 16 ½ ft bass boat plus another truck,  packed to the rim with equipment,  picked us up for a 5 hour drive into the remote jungles heading to his lodge in the Gulf Region.  Here,  we were greeted by the local village tribe who were extremely nice.

We were lead to a very comfortable lodge that previous was built by missionaries.  We slept in comfortable mosquito netting beds.  The lodge was 2 story building complete with dining room, living room, hot showers, etc.. all the comforts of home!  We unpacked our gear and were boated to the river mouth to attempt to land a few monster barramundi which roam near the sea.  Steve landed a few big barras along with Kevin.  John battled the first black bass, a respectable 20lbs, but lost a few monsters as his reel’s drag locked up.

The next day we headed to the outpost camp which is about a 2 hour boat ride from the main Lodge, Terapo Mission.  We fished along the way on the Lake Kamu River, which was on the low side and unusually cold at upper 70deg temps.  The outside temperatures were very pleasant at a cool 78deg.  We all had previously fished in the Amazon jungles for peacock bass and were expecting extremely hot, humid conditions.  About an hour into the ride, all of the boats hit a hot spot filled with numerous logjams, which are everywhere.  I hook into a “freight train” as I was pulled from the back of the boat to the front only to fall on my face.  After regaining my senses, I keep the “train” out of the snags and am rewarded with the bass of my dreams.  The monster pegged out my certified 35lbs scale, of which we estimated 40lbs.  The monster was landed on a silver/black giant Rapala Shad rap touched up with my traditional red painted bill.

Fishing for black bass is a chore.  These guys become extremely lure shy and the trophy bass really use the log snags to their advantage.  They are very powerful and destroy the best of lures.  However all the preparation I did on my lures really paid off.  My Owner ST-76 hooks were slightly bent, but the bass was still landed.  Others in the group also hooked into monsters , but were either ran into the snags or lures destroyed losing the brutes!

Travelling downriver, we see numerous tribal camps.  It seems each village we pass has the natives running out of their huts to wave a greeting to us.  Numerous children are seen paying on the beaches.  Women are seen washing clothes in the river, while a few men are seen in their canoes gathering their netting in hope of a nights meal of small baitfish.

After a great day of fishing, we arrive at the outpost camp, which exceeded the groups expectations.  A newly built lodge was built by the local natives along with Jason’s staff consisting of 6 upstairs bedrooms complete with bedding and mosquito nets.  The outpost has a very comfortable hot shower.  Laundry is provided by the locals.  The meals were fantastic as we dined on chicken, chops, steaks, fish, etc.. during our stay.  The nights were actually cool which made sleeping very comfortable.

During out stay at the outpost camp, I presented the locals with numerous gifts.  Tom Ashby of the American Legacy Fishing Company donated a bunch of hats, shirts, and duffel bags which the kids and guides made great use of.  Cargill donated a bunch of notebooks of which the elders were presented and numerous small soccer and footballs which the kids could be seen each day playing.

The second day at the outpost turned out to be a red letter day for Kevin Cleary.  Kevin landed numerous big barramundi exceeding 40lbs.  Later Kevin hooked into a snag, which moved! After a head-shaking jump, the biggest barra I have laid eyes on was somehow put into Kevin’s boat.  The barra pegged out the 60lbs certified boga grip.  The guides estimated the trophy at 70lbs.

Later that day, Jason had arranged for the group to visit the local village school.  Here a celebration was planned, as we were all greeted by a welcoming committee where school girls dressed in traditional wardrobe put beautiful flowers around our necks.

We were present with golden rulers, which we gave back to the school principle along with our donations to the school.  Kids from various tribes move into this area to have the opportunity to attend school.  Pigeon is the language, which is a form of English so we had no problem communicating with everyone.  We toured the school and the village.  The villages consisted of numerous wooden huts along with a basketball court!  The principle of the school had the kids who were all dressed in their school uniforms perform various drill formations for us.  The kids were fantastic and well mannered!

The elders had a few items for sale.  I bought a great bow and arrow that I will put on my wall as a reminder of the trip.

The next day fishing was going good for monster fish.  Cole Lundquist tells us at dinner that he has landed a monster bass weighing 42lbs.  The current world record is 42lbs 5oz so Cole is close.  The trophy was landed on a rapala giant shad rap.

Later that evening Jason Yip says he took some time off of guiding and spent a few hours fishing.  He landed the biggest bass he has caught at a whopping 46lbs that is a new World Record!

The jungle is very similar to the Amazon.  However there is a noticeable lack of wildlife and birds.  A few locals can be seen in canoes taking fruits back to Port Moresby.

Due to very low water some of hotspots were extremely difficult to reach.  We had to motor through a maize of log jams often ramming the motor into submerged wood.  Am sure Jason’s staff has an abundance of motor propellers as most probably do not last a week.  The boats are very comfortable.  Jason’s is a modern bass boat with casting platform equipped with depth finder.  Steve and I brought along our depth finders that we occasionally used.  The other 2 boats were 16ft comfortable aluminium boats.

Later in the day, John Cross and I decided to do some trolling.  John hooks into a monster barra estimated at 52lbs.  The trophy does some head shaking leaps before John lands it.  The barra is again landed on a giant rapala shad rap.  We were guided by Angus Donald who has a vast knowledge of the fishery and has won many local bass tournaments.

On the final day we decide to fish near the outpost on the way back to camp.  Kevin hooks into a huge black bass weighing in at 40lbs.

Later in the day, Jim Reed, hooks into something that pulls his boat side to side.  After a few jumps we realize Jim has a monster barra hooked.  After expert technique, Jim boats the beast that pegs out the scales.  The barra is estimate over 70lbs.  The barra is landed on a mag15 rapala in bunker!!  The barra along with Kevin’s breaks the lodge record of 63lbs landed last season.

Obviously by the size of the fish landed during our stay, larger scales are a must!

On our last evening we are treated by chef Sydney to a great T-bone steak!  Sydney really took care of us with great meals each day.  All of us tried small black bass and barramundi, which were delicious.  I was the only brave one in the group to try the local betelnut which taken with mustard stick dipped in lime, turns your mouth and teeth blood red.  Believe me you get a buzz unlike anything else you have done a few minutes into biting into this mixture.  I was also sweating bullets!  About after ½ day I felt back to normal, but can now boast of being a native PNGian!

After leaving the lodge we stayed overnight in Port Moresby and had a wonderful dinner with Jason and his family.  The next day Kevin, Cole, and I spent the evening in Brisbane Australia where Cole and Kevin had the wine of their lives!!!  We earlier in the day took an hour long train ride to purchase some Australia black bass lures!

The trip was a dream come true!  All of us exceed our monster fish expectations.  The bite number was low due to cold/low water conditions.  The monster barras were an added bonus. The best part of the trip was meeting the local tribes, meeting new friends, and of course fishing with the best bunch I guys I know.

We already look forward to landing 50 pound bass next year!!!

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