Monday, December 28, 2009

Zambales Holiday Fishing

I went kayak fishing during the Christmas holiday in Zambales. I was able to land 2 Mangrove Jacks and 1 Barracuda using my favorite lure, Heddon Zara Spook.

When the salties were not biting, I drove to my freshwater honey hole for some snakehead fishing. Total hookups, 10. 6 landed.

Can't wait for the New Year holiday. I might sneak some kayak fishing to my newly discovered estuarine river.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lakeshore 12-27-09

I passed by Lakeshore on my way to Manila from Zambales this morning. I met up with fellow anglers Alan, Obet, Bien, Carlo at around 6:30am. It was a fun and relaxed fishing day. First to catch was Obet who caught a nice sized Toman at around 1.5kg. After that, Alan hooked up to a dalag. After half an hour, Carlo came back to our original spot near the fountain. He was working on the opposite side of the lake. He hooked a biggie but lost it when the leader snapped.

Anyway, we transferred to the other side to check if there were other hungry tomans there. I managed to hook and land one using my fave lure. It's a 3.35kg. Not the lola or lolo toman (above 6kg) I was hoping to catch but the fight was fun.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lakeshore Quickie [12-20-09]

Originally, me and my cousin were supposed to go there but we called it off because we got drunk last night, or so I thought. I woke up 4am and I wasn't able to go back to sleep. I decided to push with the original plan. So I packed my stuff and a couple of baitcasters and went. Anyway, I deserved a fishing break after the long stressful week. I didn't call my cousin or other anglers who might be interested. It was too early and I will be there for only about a couple of hours.

The first catch is about 1 to 1.5kg.

The second one is very good sized Kuya Toman :D . 3.38kg. It was a fast swimmer and keeps peeling line from my Revo SX. I think it is a male because of the coloration --- bluish purple. When I was trying to remove the hook. The critter bit my thumb :D.

The third is a 1.6kg and was also a great fighter.

All in all, i had 6 hookups. 3 break-offs and 3 landed. There was a big one--- it could be bigger than a mama toman as it destroyed my lure. It literally shattered the tail hook. It now has a treble hook nose ring. It could be a lolo or lola toman.

It was a nice trip all in all. To top the catches, Lakeshore staff did not charge me. IT was their Openhouse today. Free fishing and I was even treated to barbeque and grilled hotdog. Nice!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Finally, A Mama Toman!

We heard that the tomans are getting active so we (Me, my cousin JB, Mikko and RC) decided to head off to Lakeshore early this morning. I wasn't able to sleep really. I kept imagining hooking up a mama toman for sooo long. I was able to catch a number of juvie tomans but I didn't seem to feel satisfied. I really wanted to hook, photograph, and release a mama toman.

Mikko, JB, and RC starting casting as soon as they got off the pickup. Me, I was left behind. I was struggling to rig my two Revo casting combo. On the first attempt, the line didn't pass through the reel's line guide. I had to redo both reels. I was soo annoyed. While my companions were busy casting and changing lures, I was still rigging.

But, luck is on my side. On my second cast --- seriously --- the second cast --- while I was still getting the feel of the reel and the lure, there was a huge explosive strike! On instinct, I set the hook. I knew it was big. When it peeled line from my Revo Inshore, I knew I hooked the mama toman! But oh men! we forgot the landing net. I had to wade into the water so I can reach the fish with my lip grip. I wasn't going to lose it. It was amazing. I made short strong runs and when you gain line and when the fish is almost within reach, it will give a quick burst of speed. Too bad, it was no match to my GoodCatchFishing combo (Fenwick HMG- Revo Inshore - Sufix Superior Leader - Sufix Matrix pro braid) combo. :D

It was a 5.7kg mama with muscle and it is still out there for other anglers to try and capture.

We took a few photos, quickly weighed, and then released it.

I went around the lake and fished some more. It was amazing. Luck was really on my side. I landed three more. A couple of 1kg+ and one that might hit 2kg.

When I thought the lucky streak was over, I went over to the dock near the Lakeshore office. I casted and casted around the dock. After half an hour of casting and retrieving, something struck from almost under the wooden piling. Another big mama. I knew it was big from the very first run it made. I fought it for around ten minutes. I wanted to get down the water so I can land it but I chickened out because the spot is near the dock, the water might be deeper. I didn't have a landing net. All I have is a short lip grip. The Lakeshore crew saw the commotion and one of them ran to the back of the office to get their landing net. Unfortunately, they cannot find their net.

Oh men! the fish was huge. It is not as fat as the first mama but it was longer. It can easily reach 5kg. With no other choice, i grabbed the leader hoping to lift the head near enough so i can grip the mouth. But dang! the lure came of when the fish made a quick roll! Anyway, at least I got to take a look at its size. :rofl:

Mikko also got a couple of nice sized Tomans using a Buzzbait.

JB got another but was not able to take a picture as his phone's battery got drained.

All in all it was an awesome trip. Short but sweet! :D

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Zambales [November 2009]

I have been planning for this trip for months. I have prepped all my gears and my kayak for the trip. Then Santi came along. A long weekend was about to be ruined by yet again a nasty typhoon. We were about to cancel the trip as the typhoon was expected to hit Zambales on October 31 and Nov 1. We were worried that if we push through with the trip, Carael in Botolan, Zambales might get flooded again and will be impossible for light vehicles to pass through. We don't want to get stranded in Zambales. Kids need to go back to school and me and my wife need to report for work.

Anyway, on October 30, I took a gamble as the storm didn't appear to be that strong and may change course over the weekend. Luck turned out ok. When we arrived in Zamba, it was sunny and there wasn't a trace of an impending typhoon. When we arrived 3pm, we unpacked, I unloaded the kayak and all other gears. I grabbed a baitcast combo and hurriedly went to my favorite fishing hole nearby. I started fishing 4pm and by 5:30, I was able to hook 6 Haruans and landed 5 nice sized dalags. 1 big mama got away when it did an areal and threw the hook. I only was able to take pictures of 3 because locals started getting interested in my catch. I had a feeling that they would ask for them so as soon as I unhook the fishes, I threw them back into the water.

The following day, the weather turned sour. Wind started to blow and the sky got really dark. Still, I decided to give the kayak a shot early morning and went to a Saltwater lake near our place. It's a good thing I had a drift sock. Even with strong winds, I was able to drift slowly and cast along the edge of mangrove areas. I had a hookup near a bunch of bamboo branch but the fish threw the hook after a few runs. My guess was a pargo (Mangrove Jack) probably a kilo or so. By 11 am, I had to give up as the wind was getting stronger and casting was really difficult. No catch for that day for the yak.

The next day November 1, I went again to the saltwater lake with the yak. I was only given a 3 hour visa to fish as we had so many errands that day. Heck, 3 hours of fishing is better than nothing. I decided to troll a husky jerk to cover larger area. After around half an hour, I was rewarded with my first fish on a kayak. A 1 kg Mangrove Jack (Pargo).

Before going back to Manila, I managed to sneak off into an estuarine river that one of the locals told me about. According to them, they regularly catch Mangrove Jacks and Barramundi up to 4 kilograms. I surveyed the area for an hour using the kayak. It was an awesome river. I only managed to check a small portion before my wife called. We had to go back to Manila as we are expecting traffic. True enough it was a 7 hour drive going back. I am so tired and my body is still aching. Next time, I am definitely exploring the entire river.

I can say that the trip was "bitin" --- bad weather, too many errands, and other things. But still, I managed to accomplish what I had planned. Maybe next trip during the Christmas break, I would be able to fish for longer periods and hopefully catch bigger fishes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lake Lumot [10-25-09]

Since almost all of the fishing holes near Metro Manila are no longer productive after the massive flooding a couple of weeks ago, Miko, JB, and I decided to try Lake Lumot in Laguna. It's around 2.5 hours drive from Manila if you leave very early on a Sunday. On regular days, it should take 3.5 hours.

We were really excited because we heard that October to December is a very productive month in the lake and last week, a fellow angler caught a 3.5kg (7.7lbs) Largemouth Bass. We also heard that there are huge dalags (Haruans) that are being regularly caught there.

We left at around 5:30am and reached our destination at around 8am. We had breakfast at the home of our wonderful host Manong Edgar. After breakfast, we prepped our gears and then went to the pantalan (Launch area) where our boat was docked.

Miko and JB waiting for our ride

Mikko trolled cranks on the way to our base, a small island where Manong Edgar's kubo is located. Except for Miko, this was the first time we fished Lumot. The place was amazing. The place was tranquil and at the same time exciting. The lake is about half the size of Lake Caliraya but according to locals there are more deep areas here compared to Lake Caliraya. Deeper water means colder water. This is the reason why there are bigger largemouths.

Miko trolling cranks

Manong Edgar our excellent host and captain

I brought my kayak with me. I was hoping to catch a bass or a haruan from kayak. After three trips with it, I still haven't caught anything using a kayak. Aside from catching fish from a kayak, I was also trying to familiarize myself with some basic kayak fishing skills such as anchoring, drift fishing, casting while sitting, and kayak trolling. It was really difficult at first because my movements were limited. I had a couple of rods at the back of the seat and changing rods while on the water requires a lot of practice. I also had most of my gears stowed on a milk crate at the back. I was afraid that if I turn around to get my gears, I might tip the kayak and capsize. After half day of fishing on it, I got confident and was able to change gears, locate and replace gears at the back. I still need to practice facing and sitting sideways on the kayak so i can reach the milk create.

Drift fishing/casting was fun except that I don't have a drift sock (sea anchor). When the wind blows, the kayak drifts really fast and it will turn by itself. With a drift sock, I should be able to maintain a spot where I am facing.

Trolling was extremely hard without the rod holders in the bow (front). I have a couple of Scotty rod holders but I was not able to mount them on the yak because I cannot find well nuts or nylon rivets to mount them with. Aside from the gears, trolling using a kayak was a real tiring method. Still, it was a good exercise. I had a couple of hookups but both of them got away. I realized that the cranks I was using have really small treble hooks which might not be suitable for bass.

My Yak

When we reached the island, we had lunch and enjoyed the view. The hut was on a island hill which gives you a view of the lake. Perfect spot for relaxing and camping. Manong Edgar's father did a wonderful job of cleaning/maintaining the island's landscape.

A view from the hut.

At around 3pm, we resumed fishing. Miko and JB fished from the boat while I fished using the kayak. We docked at around 6:30pm. We didn't catch anything unfortunately. We didn't have suitable worms for bass, and even if we did, none of us really knows how to use them. Still, the trip was excellent. Hopefully, the next time we fish there we will be prepared and catch a bass or haruan. At the dock we met Noel (tailwalk) and company. They caught around 7 largemouths with one at around 1.5kg (?). All were caught using worms.

Next trip, Zambales!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Update on the Popular Ponds near Manila

Here's some update on our popular freshwater ponds near Manila after the flooding last week.

Apalit ponds were not affected. Business as usual for those who would like to fish there. The only problem was the road from the green gate to the ponds are muddy and may be a challenge for the smaller vehicles. I am sure the management would be able to fix that road in no time.

Lakeshore is open but it appears that the Toman's are no longer worth targeting. I have been there a few times. Even the small ones are no where to be found. I scoured the lake for the entire day with my kayak and i did not even get a single strike even from the small ones. Come to think of it, I never did see any rising or feeding tomans. I am not sure but it appears that the lake overflowed and perhaps the big ones got out. Those toman's on the aquarium tank have been there for a long time so I am not sure when was the last time someone caught a big one from there.

Aling Nene's ponds are closed. They just seeded their ponds after losing most of their stocks during the floods. They don't allow anglers yet as the stocks are still being restored (The ponds literally contains small fishes for the meantime).

Kapitan Larry's pond is accessible but they don't allow fishing yet. Like Aling Nene, they are currently restocking their ponds. They lost most of their stocks as the floods reached up to the neck when you are standing in front of the kubos. The nets were not high enough to contain their stocks. Lawak's dike also collapsed and most of their stocks escaped into the river. When the tides rose, dirty water got in the ponds killing the fishes after a few days.

Most of the ponds in Coloong lost their stocks from flooding. Locals were catching them in the streets and sometimes inside the flooded houses.

According to Coloong locals, a lot of people caught Apahaps in the 20kg range. According to them, the fishes appeared weak as the water got contaminated with oil and gas. Those that did not escape the ponds eventually died due to the contamination of gasoline and oil. After a few days of flooding, the ponds were full of dead rotting fishes. It appears that Coloong will need at least 3 to six months for tilapia and bangus fishing and over a year for Apahap fishing to become productive again. :(

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Subic on Kayak [9-20-09]

Every time I go out fishing, the most common problem I encounter is getting to the best spots. I always had to settle fishing on the shore together with the rest of the anglers. When fishing salt water or estuaries, getting a boat is almost always a must. But in most cases, there are no available boat or renting a boat will cost you an arm and a leg.

I first got the idea of kayak fishing when browsing Youtube's Chew-on-this episode featuring fishing on a kayak on one of Florida's estuaries. It was amazing! The angler can crawl very near the tarpons and snooks without spooking them. It was an spectacular concept --- paddling on your own, fishing wherever and whenever -- salty rivers, marshes, lakes, surf. No limitations except the capacity of the kayak and the skill of the kayaker.

There was a hitch, however. Kayak's are relatively expensive in the Philippines. Aside from being expensive, there are very few dealers of such watercraft. This means, there are very limited choices.

Last weekend, I finally got my wish. It is an 11' 2" Ocean Kayak Scrambler. I got it second hand through the help of my brother in law. Yesterday, I got to test it in Subic's Malawaan Fishing area. It was pretty stable and fast enough for my needs. It is not yet rigged for fishing so I need to fabricate the accessories such as paddle leash, anchor trolley, drift sock, dry boxes/bags, and rod holders. Still, even though it is not yet fully rigged, I had tons of fun.

I was able to explore the estuarine rivers. It was an amazing experience. So serene and at the same time exciting --- and then my brand new Fenwick HMG with Carbon Veil technology broke for no apparent reason! But that's another story.

Pictures courtesy of Dowie and Anthony. Thanks.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Malawaan, Subic 9-13-09

We were originally planning to go back to Lakeshore to target the Tomans. But because of the weather --- nothing but rains, floods, and wind due to the storm --- we had to cancel. This morning, I had to hastily go to Subic to pick up a recently acquired fishing toy. So I told Bong that I was going but it was virtually impossible to fish because of the storm. Bong decided to tag along to help me load this new toy.

Because we are fanatic boy scouts and anglers, we brought along light tackle for both fresh and salt, just in case. It's also a good time to test my Fenwick HMG from FB :D

We arrived at Subic past 10am. Since it was still early, we decided to try Malawaan, despite the fact it was really pouring, the waves are impossible, and the water was muddy. So we casted, and casted, and then bam! An unexpected strike from a very tasty fish!

2.2 kg. I cannot wipe the grin off my face. :D

I tried again and I got another strike but it was too much for my lure.

I think it was the same fish who broke my leader a couple of weeks back. I just said to myself, I am getting even :devil:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Lakeshore Pampanga [8-30-09]

I think this was my fifth attempt at catching Lakeshore's Giant Snakehead (Toman). On previous attempts, I never even got a solid strike. Today, I got lucky (in a way). Twelve-times lucky :-). I managed to hook 11 baby Tomans and 1 mama Toman. But, I only landed seven (7). The mama Toman got away after a couple of short hard runs. The hook of the swimbait failed to set properly. Well, at least I was able to get a glimps of its back and it was huge maybe 6 to 7 kilos.

Three (3) tomans caught using topwater frog. After so many strikes from baby tomans, my frog is now full of cuts and holes from the baby toman's sharp teeth leaving it unusable because it started to sink.

These four were caught using Berkley swimming pogy with Bong's spinner arm.

And the biggest is probaby 3/4 kilo. It's already showing the Toman stripes.

The pogies were also not spared. After the outing, the tomans destroyed four pogies.

All Tomans were released.

I am definitely going back there for the mama toman --- soon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coloong (August 16, 2009)

After 2 weeks without fishing due to bad weather, I finally was able to wet my line this morning. I went to Kap's Lawak with my cousin and Mikko Boy. 2 hours passed and no takers. I decided to rig a Pogy with a spinner blade from Bong.

After fan-casting for about ten minutes, I got a strong strike and set the hook a couple of times.

The fight lasted about 7-10 minutes and got an 8.06Kg Barramundi.

Rod: Shimano Clarus 6' BC Rod
Reel: Abu Garcia Revo SX
Line: Powerpro 15lb braid
Leader: 20lb Flouro
Lure: 3" Berkley Powerbait Swimming Pogy rigged with Spinner Blades courtesy of Bong the Haruan Hunter.
Fish: Barramundi
Weight: 8.06 kilos
Fight time: 7-10 minutes
Date Caught: August 16, 2009 ~11:30am

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kapitan Larry's Pond Part 2 (July 19, 2009)

Remembering the disappointing trip last week, I decided to go to Coloong for a quick fish and hopefully to settle a score with the Apahap that got away. Left the house at 3:30pm and reached Kapitan Larry's pond at around 4:15. The flood was still high and the dikes were very soft. No choice, I cannot go to Lawak so I settled with the main pond near the videoke. It's a good thing nobody's singing.

At first, i tried a heavy vibrating lure and a couple of swim baits. No takers. I switched to a spinner bait by Bong. After the second cast on the corner of the pond, a solid strike. I thought it was a dalag because it does not jump and it runs really fast and really long. It swam from the corner of the pond near the kubo of Kap's crew up to the opposite corner near the entrance to the fishing huts. When it reached the huts, it surged up to the water's surface. It was a barramundi and a nice size too.

I remembered the mishap last weekend so I loosened the drag a bit to something like a kilo or less. It was a good thing I did because the hook was lodged outside of the mouth and could have torn the flesh.

It was an awesome fight and after 10 minutes or so, I landed the fish with my trusted lip grip.

It was not the 10+ kilos that got away last week but it was good enough (specially with the lure used).

5 kilos and it fell for Bong's amazing spinner bait.