Equipment for catching the Black Bass
Black Bass are often referred to as one of the best pound-for-pound fighting fish around, so we came well equipped: Shimano Stella
6000’s spin reels matched with 8-12kg rods, 60-80lb leader and lures all with upgraded trebles and split rings.
Personally, I prefer to fish with bait casters, so I was using a Shimano Tranx
matched with an 8-10kg Shimano Zodias
What tackle to opt for is always a decent debate, but my theory is if you have a set up capable of catching the species and you a comfortable with it, then there is your answer.
‘Pinch yourself moments’ – fishing amongst volcanoes, jungles and wild river beasts. With a mixture of surface lures and deep divers packed, we were off for day one. The rivers in PNG are incredible – surrounded by jungle, active volcanoes in the hills, wild pigs on the waters’ edge and thousands of fallen palm trees providing ample hiding spots for the river beasts.
What I liked most about the area was with each river system, five in total were completely different and offered different challenges for anglers.
The morning bite was steady – a few strikes without a hook up, and it only after lunch where we were on the board, with a small Spot Tail Bass which fights just as hard.
When you gear yourself up for the trophy fish, ‘only’ catching the bi-catch may seem less than ideal, but if you go too light and miss that big fish, you’d be kicking yourself, I am sure you all know the drill. A bit of a catch 22.
Most of the morning and afternoon sessions saw us using surface lures including ‘walk the dog’ lures, small stick baits and medium-size timber poppers.
The slower retrieves seemed to work best and often fish were striking on the pause. And when my fellow anglers landed their prized catch, the eruption the Black Bass fish make when hitting a surface lure is unbelievable. And when it’s happening in the pitch black of early morning or late evening, it can really make your blood pump.
My long wait for the trophy fish
The first two days we landed some cracking fish. But by night two, I was sitting around the lodge thinking I must have upset the fishing gods as I was yet to boat a Black Bass.
When five anglers sit around a table with a buzz talking about all the Bass they’d caught and how hard they fight, I was feeling like the kid at school picked last for school yard games. Lucky I had thick skin eh?
Our day three morning started slow, until around mid-morning – the guide marked two fish on his sounder, sitting under a fallen log. But the fish weren’t alone – a five-metre crocodile was sunning himself on the same log.
I’ve seen plenty of crocs in the wild and they deserve to be left alone. But the fish on the sounder were too hard to resist, so we snuck in for a few casts.
I was fishing with a 120mm walk-the-dog lure and I put seven casts pretty much exactly where I wanted them, with no result. The eighth cast obviously upset the croc and he decided to leave his log and follow my lure. When he was about two meters from the boat, BANG – a Black Bass decided he was going to beat the crocodile to the lure and smashed it right in front of me.
Now that got my heart pounding. He was back at his log before I knew it, so I had to put some serious pressure on the fish to stop him.
Lucky the pressure worked, and I managed to turn him and get him out into the deeper water for most of the fight.
When that fish landed, it was an unexplainable feeling. Relief, excitement and adrenaline rolled in one, which other anglers know and understand all too well.
I had been setting my sights on catching a Back Bass for almost 15 years, and to finally land one was beyond satisfying.
Experiencing the beauty of PNG
Other than my first Black Bass, the rest of the fishing adventure was slow after rain drenching the river dirty.
While it can feel deflating having to pull in the reel, you’re quickly perked up with opportunities to explore the beautiful surroundings of PNG.
Freshwater streams, waterfalls, active volcanoes in the creeks, and some of the best reefs for diving and snorkelling – only about 500m from the shore is Mother Nature at her best.
During our stay in Papua New Guinea, we were well looked after. You are lodged in very comfortable accommodation and get to enjoy amazing fresh food cooked by local chefs in your choice of either western or Chinese style.
And when you’re surrounded by a group of people from around the world with the same goal and outlook on fishing, it’s hard to have a bad time – and obviously catching your bucket list fish just adds to the excitement.