Andrew ‘ET’ Ettingshausen goes fishing in Papua New Guinea

Former rugby league player and keen fisherman Andrew ‘ET’ Ettingshausen is lured to West New Britain in Papua New Guinea to chase big-fighting bass, but he is equally captivated by the vibrant culture and volcanic wilderness.

PNG fishing grounds

The surface lure touches down in an eddy beside an upturned tree. It bobs gently for a moment.

Then there is an explosion of water as it is taken, and in a heartbeat a giant bass is heading back to its lair.

I lock my thumb onto the spool and lean back hard on the rod, applying all the pressure I can. The bass, with its tail half out of the water, thrashes like crazy as it pulls my rod dead straight, a position you never want to be in.

‘The fish, under extreme pressure, kicks again.’

No rod flex means I have no control as the big fish surges towards the safety of the upturned tree. I hold on tight and finally get a small wind on the reel.

The fish, under extreme pressure, kicks again, but this time I am able to get a bend in the rod. After five short pumps and winds, I have her head pointed the right way.

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Pressure

Andrew Ettingshausen with his prize

Another dive sees the big fish bury into weed. It is now or never as my guide, Riccard Reimann, motors his long boat towards the fish.

I keep maximum pressure on her and after a 30-second stalemate the huge fish is only a couple of metres away.

I yell for the net and amongst a scoop of weed the giant bass slides part way inside.

Half the fish is hanging out of the net, so we have to cradle her thick tail, but that is enough to bring her on board. We yell and scream as if we have won lotto and just stare in disbelief at the big spot-tail bass lying before us.

A couple of quick photos are taken before I ease the 18-kilogram fish back into the water. It doesn’t take long before she builds up the energy to kick away, back to her river home to live another day.

Now that’s one PNG encounter I’ll never forget.

Adventure

Reimann has guided me many times at his Baia Sportfishing Lodge. Each time, the adventure has been one to remember.

We have flown with Air Niugini all the way from Brisbane, via Port Moresby to Hoskins Airport in West New Britain, to get to the lodge.

Joining me on this adventure are some mates who have never been to PNG before, so I am excited by what I know will unfold on our week-long fishing trip.

This article is an abridged version of a story that originally appeared in the March/April 2018 edition of Paradise, the inflight magazine of Air Niugini. For more, see airniuginiparadise.com.

Comments

  1. john wuilkinson says:

    I took ET fishing up the Kikori River many years ago, with a couple of his mates including “Fish” from Cairns. This was part of an effort in Local Business Development by Chevron Niugini. He was on the Post Courier front page. He had a fantastic time and caught a record Black Bass at the top of the Kikori junction that nearly pulled him into the water.
    We returned to Moresby and he asked where to go for a beer. I told him the Club Germania at the top of Waigani Drivce, so we jumped into my hire car and started off. As we were pausing before cutting across traffic to go into the Club, police care surrounded us, the full “Monty”, steel helmets and rifles, (pointed at us). Police said the car had been reported as stolen. It was a bit tense. Suddenly one guy recognised ET, and after that the police shouted us a beer in the Club. We all had as few then went back to the hotel as ET was flying out the next am.
    ET said her was going to set up a fishing business, as the Bass fishing was awesome.
    Next morning at dawn I was flying in a twin otter from Pom to Kikori and looking out of the window I could see a big column of smoke from Waigani. When I got to Kikori, they said, did you see the Club Germania was destroyed by fire.
    It turned out that after we left there was a fight there and the place was destroyed.
    ETR went on to set up his fishing business but in ENB or WNB.
    Chevron would not fund the project in Kikori for the Landowners there.
    Together with the Barra and freshwater prawns, local LO would regularly bring in 20 kg + Black and spot tail bass for the Kopi camp mess, run by the Kikori Landowners.

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