Exploring New Territories
One of the biggest problems we have in Sportfishing PNG is deciding where to go explore next. The Coral, Solomon or Bismarck sea? Atolls, Island chains or remote reefs? Papua New Guinea has them all and in pristine condition and that’s before you start taking the freshwater fishing into consideration. You could throw a dart at the map and you’d likely hit what looks like fishing Nirvana but before the first lure hits the water or the first drag starts screaming an immense amount of preparation and research has to happen.
Papua New Guinea is ecologically pristine for a reason there’s nothing out there in the far-flung regions we favor, no food, no fuel no safe anchorages marked on the charts, in fact the chart information is generally from the days of Captain Cook as we discovered at Lyra Reef. This means a lot of advanced planning through the Wantok (Close friends) network to gather news and information on different areas and to arrange supply chains to remote settlements. Back in Moresby we have to prep boats and gear and stock K2O to the hilt with food and fuel, sweet talking the local airlines into flying to places they normally wouldn’t bother with and then to cap it off we have to convince a bunch of guys to trust our instincts and hand over a lump of their hard-earned loot and join us on a trip and explore!
For this exploration trip the destination of choice was 2 systems 100+ nautical miles off the coast of Lihir Island which is in turn 80 miles of the coast off the southern end of New Ireland. Getting K2O there and back was an adventure in itself, the round trip was over 2000 Miles in some character-building sea conditions but the crew pulled it off with grit, determination and Smash Brothers Ultimate.
Taking a drone selfie at Lihir anchorage on where we are waiting for the brave explorers.
The first system on the hitlist was Lyra Reef. An ancient atoll that is completely submerged forming a series of pinnacles and reefs that ranged in depth from 28 to 10 meters. This destination is very different from what we normally fish here in PNG but legend has it that the place was infested with Dogtooth tuna and had a lot of Gamefish patrolling the outside. The reports we gathered were from people that had fished the reef with Game boats and trolling lures so we had to hope the same would hold true for our Jig & Pop clients. Joining us was a group of regulars and repeat guests, the Genghais boys Jimmy, Winston, Jack, Kenny & Han. Jonas was also onboard for dogtooth redemption after his January trip and Theo and Craig had done river trips with us in 2018 and where keen to try out the salt this time and rounded out our group.
The Genghais guys along with Jonas, Craig and Theo at Lihir Airport.
The guys boarded at Lihir with glamour weather conditions, we pulled anchor and had a great steam out on K2O arriving in the early hours of the morning. We approached the area we wanted to anchor and got ready but no bottom on the sounder, so we broke out the paper charts to cross check against the Furuno navigation system. We then got a Garmin sounder out to cross check against that as well and so the first of many reef hunts over the next 6 days began! Everything that was indicated on the charts was there but generally off from the marked positions by 2 to 3 miles. With the reefs sitting deeper visual clues are in short supply so everything had to be figured out by searching with the sounders and keeping your eyes peeled for current lines and birds.
Our K20 Chef John, with a very hearty meal served for the clients every after fishing!
Lyra is definitely predominantly a jigging destination. The Dogtooth population is very healthy and as usual we battled to boat the big buggers and tangled with a lot of sharks as well. We had multiple hook-ups and everyone went home a lot lighter, jig wise, with some of the guys completely wiped out necessitating some serious barter and trading between guests on K2O in the evenings to stock up on supplies for the following day.
Jonas with his Dogtooth catch!
We bumped into some big Geets which traveled in schools marauding the reefs but failed to worked out the pattern on this trip which would allow us to target them effectively. Jack landed the biggest for the trip and swears it was one of the smaller ones in the school they saw. The reef fish were in plentiful supply and kept us busy on the light jigs and top water gear.
Jack Guided by Billy with his Giant Trevally.
The Reefs hold enormous amounts of Rainbow Runners, favored snack of Dogtooth Tuna as everyone knows. They also seemed to attract a lot of Marlin that we spotted free jumping and swimming nearly every day and I had a small specimen chase my stick bait 3 times without committing and generally just acting like a cock tease. I probably would have traded my Pokémon collection for a bridled live bait and a circle hook at that point.
Crazy markings of bait fish that we encounter everyday, mainly Rainbow Runners.
Just as we where starting to get the grips with the system, the wind started blowing and didn’t stop. The exposed anchorage made life fun but the guys took it in stride and kept fishing.
Photos of more Doggies on the deck!
Double Doggie on the final day!
In the end we hardly scratched the surface of the Lyra Reef System, there’s a lot of water still to be covered, areas to be explored and patterns to work out so a return trip is definitely in the cards. With the planning and logistics all worked out, we now have another base of operations to strike out from during our salt season letting us go even further into unknown territory I for one can’t wait.
As always thanks to the crew and clients of K2O and the SFPNG team toiling in the background out the lime light.