Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Taste of Haruan Paradise

Me and my cousin JB were originally planning to hit Coloong to scratch our weekly fishing itch. But instead of going to coloong, we received an invitation from Bong. Mr. Alex Ngo and his son Matt, proprietors of Alex Tackle, informed us that there is very interesting place that we really need to visit, and we need to visit it this Sunday. It's one of the most coveted haruan holes Manila --- The source of haruan hunter's wet dreams --- It's none other than the 2.4-hectare pond of QC Wildlife Parks Services.

We got to the Wildlife park around 7:30am. When we arrived, we didn't start fishing right away, we proceeded to the Wildlife office next to the pond. Waiting for us there was Mr. Alex Ngo and his son Matt. The pond was huge. It was awesome and the best of all, it's full of Haruans.

We waited for the officer in charge to give us the official instructions during the trip. At around 9am, the officer in charge arrived we got the go signal to start fishing. I haven't started rigging yet when Mikko drew the first blood, just in front of the Wildlife office. It was a 1.1kg muscular brute. After a few minutes, he got another. Mikko was burning hot --- maybe because he's using his awesome hot reel. Me, nada! It wasn't until around 10:30am when I caught one using my spinner swimbait combo. We spread out all over the pond, then everyone got lucky until 1pm. Miko got 4, Obet 1, Bong 4, Richard 2. Me, I got 4.

We grabbed a quick bite and then went back to the pond. And then it rained really hard. We thought the fishing was over as the rain appeared that it wouldn't stop. By 3pm, it was still raining and we decided that there's no use waiting for rain to stop and we went back fishing. The disturbance on the water made our topwater lures unproductive and we didn't catch anything.

By 4, the rain stopped and somehow the Haruans started biting again -- like a switch bulb. Bong hauled a 1.35kg monster and another 1kg while I got 2pcs 1kg fishes. Obet, who was having problems in the morning started hauling Haruans every 5 minutes.It seems as though Mikko's heat transferred to him. From one fish to 5 in around half an hour. It was really awesome. By 5:00pm, my count was seven.

Then by 5:30, I got even luckier. We were all concentrated on the north bank of the pond as the bites seemed to occur there. When the bite was appearing to slow down, I went the the corner of the pond and started casting over Lotus leaves, I casted and casted and felt something inhaled my frog -- there was a big swirl and my frog disappeared. By instinct, I set the hook. Luckily, it was a solid grip. Amazingly, the fish swam and pulled line even when my drag was locked.

The reel's drag washer started to shudder and I got worried. I thought that either my line will snap or my rod will break. Then the fish swam around the lotus roots. I had no choice but to ran to my right to prevent the fish from getting an angle on my line. While I was running on the bank, I sank chest deep in the lily pads. There I was immobilized and holding the rod high. My sandals was stuck under the mud and I cannot get free. Obet noticed that I disappeared all of a sudden, and ran to my direction. When he saw me on chest deep water, he held the rod while I crawled over vegation to free myself. Once free, I got back the rod and pumped it to gain line. When the fish reached the edge of the lily pad. It again dove under the muck. I had no choice but wade again on chest deep water and then crawled over the lily pads. Finally after freeing the fish, I was able to drag it to shore. When I saw it in full, I was in shock. It was a monster haruan.

I held the fish and went back to the rest of the group. Everyone was shocked and we cannot tell for certain how much it weighed. The weighing scale was left inside the pickup truck. When we got back to the office and weighed the fish, it was a 3.11kg monster.

The pond is truly a haruan paradise. All in all we landed 25pcs Haruans ranging from 500grams to 1.35kgs. Over 70 strikes.

I was skeptical at first because I refused to believe that we can really fish the place.  The Wildlife Parks and Services Pond is off limits to fishing and has been since the very start which was over two decades (if I am not mistaken). When we met the officer in charge, I was proven wrong and we were allowed to fish the entire day. The reason why they allowed us to fish at that time is because they are interested in Sport Fishing and they want to observe anglers and to get some inputs on how they can offer the pond as a recreational pond for the public. They have little idea on what's sport fishing and how it can relate to their conservation efforts and at the same time add additional income for their cause.  We explained that we're fishing for the thrill and rarely take home our catch.We also explained that, as much as we can, we try to help other anglers to practice lure fishing to minimize damage to fishes and, most especially, we promote catch and release. We also explained that other Asian countries now have lots of CnR ponds that cater to a lot of local and international anglers. It wouldn't be that hard to start one in the Philippines.

After the day's end, after speaking with the OIC and  one of the managers of the park,h we got very good reception with what we did --- catching, photographing, and releasing the Haruans. They stated that they will work with angler groups to formulate guidelines on how to operate a CnR pond for the public. I sure hope that this will become a reality in the near future.

We are so grateful to Matt and sir Alex for arranging the trip and to the management of Wildlife center for letting us fish the pond. Again, thank you so much.

It was an awesome trip with Lagiffe (Rich), Mikko, Obet, Bong, JB, Frank, Sir Alex, and Matt. It was a sweet sweet taste of the possible final leg of the Haruan Hunter's Challenge.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Testing a Soft Plastic Lure

It was a long weekend because of the Independence Day celebrations and I planned to try the monster haruans from a new pond in Bulacan. But last minute changes in plan led to my begging out of the trip. Saturday, at around almost noon, I had nothing else to do and decided to try my favorite pond -- Kapitan Larry's Lawak in Coloong, Valenzuela. It's practically a wild brackish lake containing lots of possible catches -- Barramundi, Haruans, Jaguar Cichlids, etc. But after the disastrous flood brought about by the storm named Ondoy, much of Coloong is now trying to recover from terrible loss of fish stocks. After some months, nice sized tilapia, milkfish, and jaguars are being caught by die hard anglers.

With the news of catches from other anglers, I went to Coloong and I was hoping for a barra or two. Unfortunately, no barras caught but I managed to land one haruan. After around 3pm, I called it quits.

Getting a good quality Soft Plastic Swimbait here has been hard lately. The stores that sell them are selling the kinds that, in my opinion, doesn't catch the fishes that I want to catch. If not too big, the soft plastics  that they sell have really poor action, ugly colors, lacks durability, and/or just plain unattractive to fishes.

Anyway, I settled with ordering from online stores from abroad--as usual.

Last Sunday, I received the soft plastics and secretly tried them first before giving my personal review to others. I gave some to Bong for testing. Luckily, we were planning to to go to the private pond in Bulacan the following day.

We got to the pond a bit late but still I was excited to try out the plastics. I hurriedly tied one and went to the pond's edge and started casting. On the third cast, I got a 1.75kg Haruan. That catch made me a believer of the plastic.

When Bong saw my catch and the lure, he tied one as well and after half an hour or so, he also got one.

The lure was hot! I managed to hook 2 more big haruans but lost them when the hook straightened.

The first fish I caught and the one caught by Bong was the only Haruan catches for the day. Both caught using the same plastic.

I even managed to catch a Tilapia using the same lure.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Irving's Secret Pond, Bulacan (6-5-2010)

We received an invitation to try out a private pond in Bulacan owned by Irving, through Matt of Alex Tackle. It was an untouched (never been fished by Haruan anglers) and we were so excited to try it out. Past 7am we picked up Matt and he showed us a couple of Haruans given by our host. The two were huge. Both of them can easily go beyond 1.5kg. The sight of these haruans added to the excitement. We met up with Richard, Obet, Bong, and Matt and met up with Irving at NLEX.

When we exited NLEX, it started drizzling then just before arriving to the pond, it became a real rain. We hoped that the Haruans would cooperate and take a bite from our lures.

I started with my favorite lures, pogy on Haruan Hunter spinners. No takers. I switched to frogs, nada. IT's was probably too cold. I decided to use the original Haruan Hunter spinner. IT was one of the original spinners given by bong himself. I made one pass on one side of the really big pond. No takers. I then decided to backtrack. After a hundred meters or so of backtracking, I started chatting with one of Irving's crew. He was saying that the spot I am on has large tilapia. I politely said, I am aiming for dalag. Puzzled, he stared at the little "earing-like" contraption dangling on the end of the line and asked, "Haruan's would eat that?"

Just after saying yes, I made a side-arm cast and let the lure sink. Then a big strike --- a really fast strike. The fish ran to the middle of the pond and I held on tightly on my rod and let the Abu SX's drag do its thing. The fish ran a couple more and peeled some more drag. I just let it. Then, it showed its big head! Oh men, its big! And I don't have my lip grip! And, I don't have  a net!

I called out to Bong and shouted that I cannot land this one. I think it's over 2kg. Bong was on the other side of the pond and it took some more minutes before he got to my spot. By that time, the other guys are with me. After some more minutes, Bong grabbed the leader and dragged the fish to land.

Although we were only able to get one because of the weather, there is no doubt that there are bigger haruans on that pond. The pond crew stated that this fish was about normal size and there are bigger. About 20% bigger! Can't wait till the next trip.

Irving was a great host, free drinks while fishing and even treated us to an awesome lunch! Thanks so much, Irving.