Niugini Bass (Lutjanus goldiei) are also known as the Papuan Black Snapper, vivaneau de Papua in French; Ilkan merah in Malay; and pargo de Papua in Spanish.
The Niugini Bass and Papuan Back Bass are actually members of the snapper family that inhabit freshwater and brackish water.
Niugini is a stocky fish with a deep compressed body. The first dorsal fin is spiny rayedadn separated from the soft-rayed second dorsal fin. The body is silvery to steely grey, darker on top and lightening on the belly and has large scales. It has two canine teeth on the upper jaw and smaller teeth on the lower jaw.
The Niugini bass can live in brackish and fresh waters. They can be found in streams and rivers draining into the Gulf of Papua. In the north, they can be found in the Sepik and Ramu river system. In the Fly river, the Niugini Bass has been found as far upstream as 828 kilometres (514 miles) from the sea, but is usually found about 200-400 km (124 to 248 miles) upstream. Essentially, it is found in large freshwater streams, though it has been reported in estuaries.
Above: Fly River, Papua New Guinea
It is a popular sport fish forming the basis of a safari-angling industry that attracts tourists from around the world, especially Asia and australia. The Niugini Bass is a fun fish to catch and can be caught with a wide range of baits as they are opportunistic and omnivorous in their diet as they are known to eat crabs, catfish, smaller bass, small crocodiles and mammals.
Like all bass, regardless of whether the are really sunfish, snappers or pavon -- let's not split hair here, the Niugini Bass are territorial and can be fished using techniques based on their instinct to defend their territory. In areas where there is little tidal influence they remain in the one general area, but where there are large tides they move with the tides and changing river flows and water levels.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a country on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and also makes up many islands off the coast of the main island as well. New Guinea is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. A majority of the country is rural, practising subsistence based agriculture. The geography is very rugged on the island with dense rainforests in the low lying areas.
The Fly River
The Fly River is the second longest river on the Island of New Guinea at 1050 kilometres (650 miles). It flows through the Western Province. The estuary of the Fly River is 56 kilometres (35 miles) wide at the entrance and the quickly tapers to about one kilometre wide. Most of the Nuigini Bass are caught in the Fly and Sepik Rivers.
The Sepik River
The Sepik River is the longest river on the island of New Guinea at 1126 kilometres (700) long. The Sepik flows from the central highlands of Papua New Guinea into the Pacific Ocean.
The Niugini Bass of Papua New Guinea is very similar to the Carp, found in many North American lakes. It's first dorsal fin is very spiny with a soft-rayed, skin-like, second dorsal fin. It has a stocky body with large scales that are parallel to lateral line anteriorly. It's body colour is a muted silver or steely grey, and like most fish, it is darker on top and lighter on its belly.
Above: Side view of the Niugini Bass's large scales
Above: Facial view of the Niugini Bass
To help catch it's prey, it has two small canine teeth on the upper jaw and smaller teeth on the lower jaw. It's eye is large and reddish yellow with a large black pupil.
The Niuginin Bass is a large fish in terms of most freshwater species. On average they grow between ten and twenty pounds and there are Niugini bass being caught over 30 pounders and this is not uncommon. They can reach a length of forty inches.
The only other fresh water bass that comes close to the Niugini Bass is the Peacock Bass of South America, also known as the Peacock Pavon. The record peacock bass is 27 pounds, though many feel that there are fish over thirty pounds hidden in the Amazon waters. In contrast, the Niugini Bass are frequently caught in excess of 27 and 30 pounds.
The Niugini (Black) Bass is very tolerant to viruses can tolerate fresh and salt waters and has a very fast rate of growth, attributed largely to the warm water condisitons and ample food supply. However, their population numbers are not very high. This is one species where practising catch and release is helpful for the longevtivity of the species.
Papua New Guinea is characterised by a hot, humid climate with cooler temperatures in the hilly areas of the country. The mountains and the ocean being so close to each other cause micro climate conditions so keep an eye on weather radar and satilite images.
Avoid heavy clothing. light weight tropical cottons are recommended for the dry season with rain gear for the rainy season as it rains very hard. The average rainfall is 7.5 inches (19 cm) in the months of January, February and March with December coming in at a respectable 4.3 inches (11 cm).
Humidity levels remain constant throughout much of the year with the lowest humidity level being 69%, reaching as high as 81 percent. At the same time, the temperature in the shade averages around the high 80s throughout the year witht he average low being in the high 70Fs (21C+).