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Png 2018: Exploratory Trip


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Pretty exciting stuff from the latest Baia Newsletter.

I am putting together a crew for the new mother ship as well for 2018. We plan to head West from Kimbe for a change accessing the Kulu and Via rivers and then push forward. From there we will have access to dozens of rivers never fished in this commercial style. Considering the remoteness of some it is even possible to imagine modern gear has not been used there. It is pretty exciting! The boat and dories will also offer countless bluewater options we will pursue if the rivers are slow and night fishing will also be an option. Now we just have to wait!


"We are excited to announce that a new vessel, Ultimate One, has been added to our fleet. Built in New Zealand and designed by renowned boat builder, Graig Loomes, it is a unique vessel that will cross any sea in style and comfort and has a 1800 NM range with a top speed of 30 knots.  Ultimate One is a 70 foot custom built vessel and will be available for specialized charters for groups up to 6 anglers. These 6 to 8 day charters will allow access into new River systems around New Britain Island and exploration of the many offshore reefs and Islands in the Bismark Sea. This vessel has no boundaries and will take us to places where very few have been. It will also have a Game Chair on the back hydraulic platform for those who want to take on some big Blue Marlin. Giant Dogtooth Tuna will be the draw card but these areas will also be teeming with sail fish, GT, Wahoo, Yellowfin and Napolean wrasse, plus all the Tropical Reef sport fish you can think of".



"The JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY team is now into their second year of research. The team has studied the movements and breeding patterns of both the Black and Spotail Bass in the rivers that surround Baia Lodge, hoping to unlock some of the mysteries that surround these iconic fish. This infomation is essential in ensuring the preservation of these great fish and highlights the importance of protecting such pristine and special places like Baia and New Britain Island.

Black and spot-tails bass have marine larval phases, and the young fish recruit mostly straight up into freshwaters. Spotties mostly stay in the freshwater until about 7 years old or so, then move downstream into slightly salty water – this coincides with about the age they mature, so the movement is probably related to spawning.
-          Black bass move between fresh and salt a bit more, spending time in salty, brackish and freshwaters during different parts of their lives, but the general trend is to move downstream as they get older. Again, this probably relates to moving towards the spawning grounds.
-          Spotties are maturing by about 30-35 cm and 7-9 years old. Black Bass mature at around 45-50 cm, but since they grow faster, they are also about 7-9 years old. This is similar to mangrove jack on the east coast of Australia.
-          These ages and sizes are approximate, because both species vary a lot in size at age. For example, we found that black bass about 45cm long were anywhere from 3 to 12 years old. The oldest black bass we have aged so far was an 18 year old 77 cm female caught by your anglers in the Sei River in May 2013. The largest fish was the 82 cm black bass that Jacob caught on a big Halco Rooster popper in the mouth of the Barema in Nov 2014 (pic attached). That was an 11 year old female. Spotties are also highly variable in size at age. We have so far aged three fish that were 12 years old, and were between 45 and 54 cm long. The largest spotty we have aged so far was a 55 cm 8-year old female.
-          Both blacks and spotties have long spawning seasons. Some black bass are getting into spawning condition in November, and most are clearly breeding in April –June. Although we cannot get to Baia over the summer wet season, it looks like they are breeding during this time. Spotties are in spawning condition from Oct to Apr.
-          Small black and spot-tails (<10cm) are living on snags in freshwaters. The spotties are on the same snags in mid-stream as the big ones, while the little black bass (pic attached) are on small snags along the shallow grassy edges




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