About a year ago Me and the boys booked into a trip to Papua New guinea to target the Papuan Bass.
Come October 8th we hopped on a plane to Jakarta from Abu Dhabi. After an 8 hour flight ,we landed in Jakarta were we were joined by two of our friends from New Caledonia ,with whom we had planned this trip .The following day got on another 8 hour flight to West Papua area controlled by Indonesia.
We were met at the Airport by our trip organizer who put us in a hotel overnight, and said we would leave at 4 Am in the morning. The trip was to be a two hour trip by car to a river, and then a boat ride of about four hours deeper into the territory.
When we reached the river jetty, we loaded all our stuff, tackle and bags on to the boat. We were surprised to see a very small open boat with two 40 Hp Engines and also noticed that there was no supplies for the supposedly wild camp on the Jungle river were we were expected to stay and fish 6 days. The organizer said he sent the supply boat and crew a day earlier who would have , by now ,put up the camp on the designated spot when we reach.
We left just as the day broke in light rain ,and were already soaked 15 minutes into the trip. The rain jackets we wore of little help . An hour into the ride ,we broke into the open sea and from then on down south along the coast for an endless period of time.. The wind was blowing and the sea a bit rough. We have seen many storms and rough seas but this was different since the boat we were on was not one that a sane person would take out to sea. No life jackets, no sat phone, no reception on the cell phone it was getting more and more interesting to say the least!
After about 4 hours, we entered another estuary mouth and headed towards a small Island we could see in the distance. As we got closer to the Island we noticed our organizer getting more and more agitated and nervous. We were like idiots not knowing what was happening. When we reached the shore of the Island we were asked to unload our tackle and luggage on to the sands and the news was announced that it looks like the supply boat did not make it as expected, and hold on … that we did not have any more fuel , the supply boat was carrying all the fuel, the camp tent, food for six days, drinking water , camp beds.. So on and so forth.
We were also told that we were now on very hostile tribal area and that one of the crew members who was on the supply boat was from the same tribe and he was to talk to the tribal chief and get the permission for us to fish that area and camp there… . Now without any communication and means to know the whereabouts of the supply boat we were left in limbo , silence all around except one Papuan native mumbling continuously about us being in danger and to expect an attack from the hostiles!!
We were now already eight hours into the trip , no food , very little water… The boys solved the food with a few Barramundis they caught casting among the fallen trees along the beach and the Papuan climbed a coconut tree and fell a few to substitute for drinking water. The day was spent gazing up river and down river expecting the supply boat to materialize.. Sun set came and we had a few shots of good spirits to wash away the despair. To sleep we cut a few coconut fronds spread them on the sand closer to the back of the beach where the jungle starts. I had earlier gone a few meters into the jungle to pee and saw lots of Wild boar activity around. We also decided that we will not shine a torch or head lamp and also keep a low profile fire going closer to the bush, so that we do not attract any attention from the hostile tribe. The night was insane with bugs eating us alive and all kinds of creepy crawlies taking a tour around our body.
Day break saw us huddled again and the organizer decided to make a run for a nearby “assumed” friendly village which was about two hours back on the route we came. It was also understood that he had just enough fuel to make this attempt. Once in the village, He hoped to get some help along with some fuel ,food and water.
Thus ,we waved him goodbye, and focused on more food and proceeded to cast around the island mangroves … more Barramundis went on the fire and everybody hogged up . The day dragged on with no sign of either boat. Now we were looking for two boats instead of one. The Papuan told us that we were very lucky to have made it through the night.
Around three in the afternoon we see a boat limping onto our beach a rather dilapidated sorry excuse of a boat loaded to the brim with stuff … our camp stuff and here goes…
It seems this boat left a day before us , got stranded on a sand bank , had to wait overnight for the high tide to pull it out and to make matters worse , the tribal who was to get the permission from the hostiles became very sick. So instead of making the rendezvous with us the guys took the tribal to his village . There at the village the elders went berserk saying the outsiders took their guy and made him sick.. Matters got worse and the two guys on the boat left the sick guy in the village and ran out of the place with the tribals chasing them with knives and spear.
So in short, when this boat eventually reached our camp they had or they presumed that the hostiles were just behind them in hot pursuit. Things began to happen very fast here onwards.. They said we have to shift immediately before they reached us .. While this commotion was going on, the other boat with our organizer limped into our camp and then it was a mad rush to pack everything into the two boats and make a dash for some other sheltered beach or river.
Now it so transpires that our organizer the “Guide “ has never been to this area before and he brought us along to explore this area !!
Now that was a new one for us .. a paid , charter taking us on an exploratory trip to unchartered hostile territory in Papua !!??
Well we did find a sheltered beach with a friendly tribal village in the neighborhood and ended up fishing 3 days instead of the planned 6 days.. in short 3 days fishing and 3 days dodging arrows
The fishing was phenomenal inspite of not seeing any Papuan Bass . There were Barras in plenty but all of them were in the mangrove snags. It was very exciting surface “walk the dog “ stick baits only, very accurate casts and tough short fights on near locked drags.
We caught so many fish I would say like average 30 fish a day ranging from 3 Kg to 10 Kg , a few big ones jumped inside the trees. Other species included 4 finger threadfins ( rawas) 5 fingered threadfins, breams, huge catfish, all on top water stick baits our favorite mode of fishing. Much like snakehead fishing in the snags.
Now comes the icing on the cake, by the second day, our cameras refused to switch on and when we got back to civilization, we realize that it was completely destroyed with not a single bit of data on it.
As a consolation our friend who was fishing along with us took one or two pictures and that’s all we have to show.
Lessons learned … If you are into extreme fishing like us … double check before booking with a charter and ask for all details about location and logistics.
We were into this trip for tough jungle camp fishing in remote areas.. . We were also well aware of the risks and tough conditions to expect on such a trip but were not prepared for the organizers lack of safety awareness and logistics required for something like this.
Well ,all said and done ,these experiences are what makes you better equipped for future trips like these … that is if you get back in one piece
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Rods: FC Labo, Tenruyu, Graphite leader
Reels : Stella , : 5000, 4000, 3000, Certate 3000
Line Braid 30lb
Lures:- very simple ..Only floating stick baits