Exploratory Trip to Eastern Fields with Sport Fishing PNG

Discussion in 'International reports' started by Mark Harris, Nov 28, 2014.

  1. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Junior member

    I had been in contact for some time with Sport Fishing PNG, mostly to monitor their amazing progress with targeting the almost mythical Papuan black bass. With the arrival of their very impressive mothership K20 earlier this year, it became clear that these guys wanted to seriously tackle remote blue water fishing as well as the rivers and swamps of PNG.

    As soon I saw their intention to undertake an exploratory trip to the Eastern Fields reef system sxouth Papaua New Guina and noth of Australia, the email flew out almost instantly. From the outset it was clear that I was dealing with a very professional outfit. Arrangements were made efficiently and it was all systems go with the exploratory trip. On November 18th I joined the Sportfishing PNG team plus a couple of their friends in Port Moresby to pour over maps (such as they are, much of Eastern Fields remains uncharted or incorrectly charted). Intel is very limited and mostly from the odd trolling boat that has been out there. The sense of excitement and anticipation was huge as we prepared for the 100 nautical mile journey.


    Before reporting on the trip itself, I think it is worth explaining a bit about the wider operations of this company. A lot is made of the dangers of being a visitor to Port Moresby and there is no doubt that this city has its problems. I was though expertly looked after from the moment I walked through customs at Jackson's airport to the moment I did the reverse trip 7 days later. Owner Jason Yip has a substantial and very well established business operation in Port Moresby, and you could not be in better hands.

    Having read a bit about it, I was also keen to see first-hand more about the charitable works of the organization. Again, this was most impressive with major operations to bring education, nutrition and healthcare to some of PNG's most remote village communities. Very well done guys. Spending money with this operator means you are offering significant support to some extremely under-privileged communities.


    After a splendid dinner at the yacht club we all boarded K20 for the overnight sailing out to Eastern Fields. One look at K20 and it was clear that we would not exactly be roughing it. This is a superbly presented and maintained vessel with six guest rooms and full air-conditioning throughout. A walk-in fridge and an espresso machine will give you a good idea of the on-board standards.



    Upon arrival the following morning at the truly vast 400 square mile reef system it became clear just how daunting a prospect it was to figure out where to target fish, where to anchor the mothership etc. This was not made any easier by the weather - solid 15 to 25 knot southeast winds. Anyone who has fished the Coral Sea will know that winds of that strength in that quarter make for some serious challenges!

    Over the next 6 days we fished hard and we fished as widely as the wind would allow. Unfortunately our plans to fish the obvious pressure points on the outside of the reef were scuppered by the wind and 95% of our fishing had to be inside the reef. That being the case, we still did very well. GTs were everywhere. I have forgotten the boat total for the trip and I suspect it was miscounted anyway. I certainly forgot some of the fish I caught and I am sure the same is true for others! The reef was every bit as pristine and healthy as I expected. It was a constant battle to get past the truly incredible numbers of large coral trout, green jobfish and red bass - sure signs of health of the reef.

    On the very limited occasions we could get outside and target the windward size of the reef, the number of fish was even more remarkable. I will never forget the sight of GTs lined up in the high breakers and the frustration of not being able to target them due to the conditions.

    Sharks were a constant problem as expected. Not only were they taxing our catches (especially green jobfish...... they seem to love green jobfish!) but also hitting stick baits. One in particular nearly broke me in half after taking my bigfoot 180.

    I can't emphasise enough just how many reef fish there were. The shallow reefs were thick with big coral trout, green jobfish, thumping red bass, bluefin trevally and a host of other species. Although these got annoying when using the GT gear, I personally had huge fun with these fish on the PE3 casting set up. Several large Napoleon wrasse were seen but sadly, none caught. Another sign of just how healthy this reef system is.

    On the jigging front, the largest doggie landed was 30 kgs with several smokings by larger fish. Again, the pinnacles outside the reef would surely be doggie heaven but we could not safely reach those areas. But even inside the reef in shallower water, big doggies made their presence known.

    Each evening at my urging, a big effort was made to get a baitball going around the mothership. Given the extremely good health of the water this was not hard to achieve and the light PE2 jigging was great fun. I personally lost 26 small jigs mostly to barracuda. When I got past the barracuda some fine fish were landed - red bass, coral trout, paddletails, various emperors and groupers, bigeye trevally etc. Fantastic sport on the PE2 gear. Slow, long fall techniques were especially productive.

    A large emphasis was placed on catch and release and fish welfare. The vast majority of fish caught were de-hooked in the water - very easy when you fish barbless across the board.

    After 6 days of this intense fishing (for 14-16 hours each day) exhaustion was certainly setting in, but personally I could have stayed longer - the fishing was that good. As we set sail back for Port Moresby the only thing on my mind was arranging a full blown trip back to this amazing place as soon as possible.

    Some tackle notes.... given the nature of the terrain, PE10 is the most sensible set up for GT fishing at Eastern Fields. I had two PE10 setups and one PE8 and the former made me fish over the reefs with more confidence. On the jigging front, I went heavy with PE8. Don't underestimate the world class nature of the lighter fishing - it would be nuts to go out there without lighter setups.

    I would like to personally thank everyone who was involved in setting up this exploratory trip: Jason, Angus, Moli, Jia An, Marty, Brendan and Robert. You guys are legends and made me feel very at home and part of the team.

    I hope that the very small selection of pics which follows will give you a feeling for the fishing that is available at this most remarkable reef system.
    amsaadi, Inspiro, porcha and 2 others like this.

  2. Popfly

    Popfly Junior member

    Another place to add to the list....!
    Mark Harris likes this.
  3. lite-liner

    lite-liner troll enforcement Staff Member

    Wow, Mark! fantastic!
    it's reports of uncharted places like this that brought me here (dreaming) in the first place
    Very refreshing & reminicient of the old deepjigging.com reports

    you might be part of the new vanguard, LoL!

    great job, man!
    Mark Harris likes this.
  4. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Junior member

    Thanks guys. :)

    It was an absolute privilege to be afforded this opportunity to explore such a pristine reef system and one that has seen so few top water lures before.

    I will be back.
  5. edgarz

    edgarz Senior Member

    Very nice. Thanks for sharing.
  6. Courtland

    Courtland Site Sponsor

    I think that will be next. :)
  7. Depraved

    Depraved Cabo is a POS

    Nice report and great pics as always Mark.... Hopefully next time you can go outside the reef
  8. AMW9999

    AMW9999 Junior member

    Damn you Mark! Another (for me) very expensive trip to plan for! :)

    Epic report and very well done!
  9. Snaphappy

    Snaphappy Senior Member

    Those are some cool looking fish. Thanks for sharing the report.
  10. Celso Mendonca

    Celso Mendonca Member

    Very good Mark!!!

    Next time will be in the same month?
  11. jakedge

    jakedge Member

    Awesome adeventure and report. Thanks for sharing.
  12. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Junior member

    Celso, I am looking at a bit later into the season.... Dec/Jan. We knew this exploratory trip was a little bit risky as early. And it was still quite windy.
  13. Bunny

    Bunny Senior Member

    Awesome! Got any more pics? I'd love to see more trout photos, especially that High fin trout. Great fish!
    Mark Harris likes this.
  14. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Junior member

    yep I will dig some out. Caught dozens of Plectropomus oligacanthus but did not photograph many.. but sure I have a few more pics.
  15. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Junior member

    Bunny - more Coral Trout pics as requested. We caught way over 100, so photos were not a huge priority. But we took a few.

  16. Depraved

    Depraved Cabo is a POS

    That yellow and black fish is beautiful whats it called?
  17. Mark Harris

    Mark Harris Junior member

    John, that yellow and black fish has many, many common names including Blacksaddled coralgrouper, Chinese footballer, Footballer trout, Bluespotted coral trout, etc etc etc

    Scientific name is: Plectropomus laevis, member of the grouper family.

    Believe it or not, it is the same species as in the last picture... the grey brown with blue spots fish that Jia An is holding. Different colour phases of the same species.