Friday, November 4, 2011

All Souls' Haruans and Mangrove Jacks

Last Summer of 2010 was probably the hottest dry season that Zambales has encountered.  It was so dry that my favorite Haruan spot had dried up and the Haruan population was literally decimated. The once wide expanse of marsh land was reduced to an arid grassland. When the rains came last June and the months after that, the marsh slowly began to fill with water.

The long weekend of All Soul's Holiday last weekend was a perfect time to test the marsh once more. We left Friday night and arrived there at around 2AM Saturday. The original plan was to fish the estuaries using my kayak during early mornings and late afternoons and in-between, fish for Haruans and on my last day, go trolling. Unfortunately, high tide occurs late at night and I am not so keen spending the night on an isolated estuary all by my self at night, on All Soul's day :-). I don't want to meet a real Mamaw at a time like that.

I did try kayak fishing for Jacks on the first day during daytime but after catching only a couple of MJs, I abandoned kayak fishing. Paddling during outgoing tide is too much work for just a few takers. Instead, I decided to concentrate on Haruans. I am actually glad I did. From an arid grassland, the rains helped transform the area into a recovering marshland. Water triggered the recovery of small baitfishes --- tilapias, walo-walo, gurame, etc. With the spread of baitfishes, Haruans seemed  to have bloomed out of nowhere. After days of fishing (2 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours in the afternoon), I managed to catch, photograph, and release 21 Haruans. In addition, I was also fortunate enough to land 3 table-sized mangrove jacks (1pc 500grams and 2 pcs 750grams).

Undas 2011 from Hibiki on Vimeo.

The arid grassland slowly turned into an aquatic heaven. It still has a long way to go before returning to its former state but it's getting there. I sure hope it would. The only hurdle that it needs to go through is the coming dry season. I hope it wouldn't dry up again like what happened last year.

One thing I also realized during the Undas (All Soul's Day) fishing is the use of a Heavy topwater rod or frog rod. I always notice that American anglers have these stout, stiff, and long frog rods when they are fishing for bass using frog lures. I always thought that they are overdoing it. Before, my rod of choice for haruan fishing was just an 8-17 or max of 10-20lb 6ft to 6'6" Medium rod. I always thought that it was the perfect frog rod. I was completely wrong. For the first time, I tried my Majorcraft Slicer 12-25lb Heavy rod (almost 7ft) in Haruan fishing using frog lures. Boy, it was revelation. That was the perfect Heavy-cover frog rod that I should use. The American anglers were right on the money when frog fishing. The powerful, long, and light rod was perfect for the needed hook sets and the power to pull the fish out of heavy weeds. Before, when I was using lighter rods, I always lose fish due to poor hooksets and if I did manage to hook one, I almost always wade to where the fish is for fear of breaking the rod if I muscle it away from the weeds.

When I started using the Slicer 12-25lbs, I was always 100% on hooksets and I can easily pull fish and weeds out to shore no matter how far they are. No more wading.

To top it off, the Heavy but light rod was also a perfect rod for topwater saltwater fishing. So, the next time you buy a frog rod or a top water salt rod, get a 7ft or longer rod and leave those light rods for jerkbaits and spinners. You will feel the difference.