Everyone prepares slightly differently for a tour to PNG but there are a few things that are constant. Years of dreaming, months of planning, hours of researching anything you can get your hands on! All to get yourself ready for the hardest pulling freshwater fish in the world, Lutjanus Goldiei, more commonly referred to as the PNG Black Bass 💪🏻
This being my seventh visit to PNG, preparation was relatively simple. I have amassed a substantial amount of Black Bass specific tackle over the years so a quick lure top-up was all that was required.
Anticipation was high as we travelled down the notorious Hiritano Highway, free flowing Super Powers (green cans) made the trip go super quickly and in what seemed like no time at all we were making our way through the sing-sing and quickly rigging up for our first afternoon session.
Jia An and I had planned this trip around the neap tides, Terapo fishes better with some flow so it was promising to see the running tide as we hit our first location. I thought I was ready, Raskol Rod matched with the Elan, drag all the way right and then back 1 click.....
It didn’t take long to be absolutely railed by a black bass on the troll. I had bounced the scorp into the snag, twitched and then almost ripped over the side of the boat, zzzzz zzzz zzzz zzzz ping, busted off on 100lb leader like it was nothing. The very next pass, same snag, same outcome. Sitting there shaking wondering what I would have to do to land one of these beasts. We did manage some Barra and fingermark bycatch which became dinner later that night.
Crocodile sightings are fairly rare occurrences whilst fishing Terapo, the spot we fished on day one was the exception to the rule! Over the coming days we saw 6 individual crocs hanging in this 500m stretch of water, ranging from 1-4.5m so knew the fish were still holding.
Crocodile alley cost me another 8 lures over the course of the trip, all to unstoppable fish, the other boys didn’t fare any better 😞 I did manage to stop my best of the trip at 36lb on a Mark A Creekyscorp though!
The Barra had made their move down to the estuary mouths to fatten up for the spawn and the average size was 94-96cm, slightly down on last season but still a heap of fun! Best Barra of the trip went to Ray, a horse at 122cm, Rusty also managed to better his PB with a fat 112cm fish 💪🏻
The tides were perfect for the rest of the trip, unfortunately for us, it was also perfect conditions for swarms of jelly prawns! All throughout the systems the prawns were everywhere, even the locals were surprised and were taking full advantage of the protein source, scooping the reed edges and undercuts. The fish kept for dinner proved our suspicions, all were chock a block full of them.
Being unable to match the hatch completely proved challenging but by downsizing to 70-80mm lures we were able to keep the fish coming aboard, it was harder than usual but very satisfying to see the boys changing things up and getting rewarded. To Jia Ann’s disgust, Rusty was even able to jig up a Bass on an Infish soft vibe!
I ticked off a few species from the bucket list including Fingermark and Threadies but the QLD Groper eluded me once more. Warren rubbed salt in the wound catching several with his best being a nice fish around the 25lb mark.
My most memorable moment was fishing upstream in the crystal clear water from the spot dubbed “The Waterfall”, we had rolled in nice and quietly and whilst admiring the water clarity I noticed a small tortoise cruising along the surface... then I noticed the dark shape behind it, a beautiful dark Bass of around 25-30lb just eyeballing the tortoise, no doubt wondering whether he was worth the effort! Deciding against the tortoise meal he cruised back to the depths. The session that followed was epic, the late afternoon bite was short but I managed a nice 18lb Bass from the colour change and missed several more before moving into the clean water, casting to the base of the waterfall produced hookups on nearly every cast from Barra and small bass, most having the hooks pull under the high drag pressure required to stop the big girls.
Whilst I am going to update the tackle masterclass series separately, it would be remiss not to touch on the Raskol rod series. So much effort has gone into the rods over the past few years, hours upon hours of on water testing and what you have now is in my eyes, the best all round rod for PNG rivers. Something capable of handling huge Black Bass and high drag pressure yet still exceptionally light, I fished this matched with an Elan WP for 7 days and didn’t have any hand or wrist fatigue!
We were also lucky enough to put a few prototypes through their paces, some very exciting things coming 😎
Massive shoutout to the crew who made this trip unforgettable, the local boys have come ahead leaps and bounds over the past few seasons now confidently using the sounders, calling the fish before you get the hit and general boat craft increasing exponentially. Thanks to Tomi, Patrick, Francis, Joe, Solomon, Charles, Derrick, Cletus and all the other boys and girls who kept us well lubricated with SPs and well fed!
The hardest worker without doubt was and is Jia An, so much goes on behind the scenes to make these tours work and I am thankful to call him a close friend. He knows more about Terapo now than most and is the reason the trip ran like clockwork. Thanks for everything you do mate, you epitomise what this location is about with your endless passion 👊🏻
Keep an eye out for the tackle series update! Until then, tight lines and screaming drags 💪🏻🖤💪🏻🖤💪🏻