Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Big Bad Black Bass Action at a new New Britian Spot
In August this year, Fish Max contributor Mal McCully was one of the first guests to fish an exciting new fishing destination organised by Riccard Reimann from Baia Sports Fishing Lodge in PNG. The spot is so new that it didn’t have a name.
Riccard is looking to establish a permanent base in the area, but for this first trip, accommodation was organised in a private house on a picture postcard tropical island.
The spot is located to the west of Kimbe, the opposite direction to the Baia Lodge. Getting to the spot was no easy feat for Mal, who lives in the south east of South Australia. It took Mal three days to get there, having to first drive four hours to Adelaide, board a flight to Brisbane, followed by another to Cairns. From Cairns, a flight to Port Moresby and then yet another to Hoskins situated on the north coast of West New Britian Province PNG. From there, a four wheel drive trip to the Liamo Reef resort in Kimbe, where they overnighted in relative luxury.
The next morning a short 4WD trip of less than an hour, took the small group of five anglers to the fibreglass dinghy’s for a 2 hour trip to the small tropical island camp where they would call home for the next 7 days. Accommodation was in traditional thatched house with an outside cooking hut. The camp only had rudimentary facilities but did include a generator and a fridge/freezer. Plans are underway to upgrade the level of comfort with showers, fans and more refrigeration. They fished 6 different rivers to the west of the island. The 2 boats were owned and operated by the traditional local people. Each boat held 2 anglers, a fishing guide, a local driver and another local who spotted up front. A boat trip of between three quarters and one and a half hours, had the fisherman at the mouth of various rivers, where they proceeded to fish from there to a further 20 to 30 kilometres upstream.
The Papuan Black Bass is considered one of the most powerful fish ‘pound for pound’ that exist. When they strike, in spite of locked drags and spools thumbed hard, line still peeled off as if no drag was applied at all. Many have described the experience to hooking up to a speeding freight train. Mal had around one second to turn a fish once hit, otherwise all was lost, as they thundered towards snag or mangrove to break off the line as if it were thin cotton. Many rigs were busted by these notoriously hard fighting fish.
The Spot Tail Bass were found upstream in fast flowing, clearer water were they tended to like a little white water flowing fast over logs, rocks or other obstructions. The black bass were mainly found downstream in the saltier water and at the river mouth.
The fishing comprised of flicking lures towards structure and trolling. Forty five black and spot tail Bass were landed by Mal and his fishing buddy, Ivan New over the next seven days, as well as 4 monster mangrove jack around 6.5 kg and a handful of GT’s to 14kg. Most bass were around the 4 to 5 kg mark, with one monster going to 14 kg. Recent reports from this same spot, talks of fish to 20 kg being caught! All fish landed were carefully released to fight another day.
Fish like these need beefed up gear. Mal’s tackle including custom made Ian Miller 10-20kg Papuan Black bass rod, custom Ian Miller 10 kg Barra rods, a two Daiwa Zillion 100 HLC Baitcaster reels, a Shimano Calcutta 200 TE and a 200 TE DC reel. All reels had their drags upgraded to around 9 kg. Line was 50lb Power Pro braid with 80lb Schneider leader. Lures were a mixture of Roosta poppers, Reidy’s B-52s, Killalure River Rats, Rapala X-raps, Halco Hammas, Halco Scorpians, Bomber’s and Barra Classic hard bodied lures, from 105 mm to 125 mm in length, with most diving around 3 to 5 metres deep. All rings and trebles were upgraded, the hooks to Owner 6X trebles. Popular lure colours included Elton Johns, fluoro greens, silver and black, classic gold, and plain silvers.
One time, when Mal had a GT at the side of the boat, the biggest Black Tail Bass he had ever seen, rose from the depths and hammered the hooked fish. This fish, twice as big as any they had caught, made short work of the 6 kg trevally and rig. Going by the weight of the others they had caught, Mal estimated this fish to be over 20kg, maybe even closer to the 25kg mark!
As you can probably imagine Mal and Ivan are as keen as ever to get back there again next year, though Ivan is threatening to upgrade to 20kg rods, 80lb braid with 100lb leader. With fish like the one Mal saw, we think he might want to go even heavier!

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