Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Catch: Mangrove Jacks on a Kayak

It's the day before New Year. I decided go out one last time before 2011 ends. I wanted to fish really early to catch the outgoing tide but too much beer and the cold made me want to stay in bed a little longer. My original plan of 4am fishing became 6am. Still, it was a bit dark and I was hoping the jacks would still be out playing.

Lucky me, after paddling for 15 minutes, I got a fish on my second cast and then another 5 minutes later. They were not too big but perfect for steaming. But then the locals noticed the commotion and decided to park their boats near me and started chatting. As soon as they started asking questions, the bite died down. I am not sure but the jacks seem to notice if there are people around. They are also shy when the sun started to shine.

Thinking that the fishing was over, I paddled back upstream to my launch point. On the way back, I stopped near a fallen log and casted one more time before calling it a day. It's a good thing I did, As soon as the lure touched the water, a fish slammed it. Two hours of fishing and I managed to catch 3 jacks. My last three fishes for the year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Snakehead Fishing from Shore and from a Kayak

A few days before Christmas, fishing in my favorite hole was terrible. During that time, it was unusually cold and windy. The drop in temperature may have pushed the snakeheads (haruans) into hiding. I have been fishing since the 23rd up to the late afternoon of the 25th and had no luck. Not a single strike or even a trailing fish. It was frustrating.

Then on the 26th of December, the sun shone bright and the wind has died. I decided not to fish in the morning and waited for the water to heat up for a bit.

After lunch, I loaded my kayak on the bed of my pickup truck. I figured that with the kayak, I can fish the entire marsh area. If there still no snakeheads, I can transfer to the estuary in the late afternoon when the tide comes in.

When I got to the launch point, I unloaded the kayak and rigged to start fishing. A lot of passers by gave me a puzzled look. The locals probably took me for a fool --- a strange man with a strange outfit and gear, riding a strange boat, and fishing on the heat of the midday sun.

For the first two hours, still no fish. I can see some fishes timidly trailing the lure but none are actually committing to strike. I switched to different sizes and colors of lures but to no avail. I checked the water and it seemed still too cold that I remember it.

I decided to paddle to the shallow areas thinking the water over there may have heated earlier than where I was located. The problem is, the shallows have thick vegetation so paddling may be a problem. I struggled to paddle the kayak over lilies, kangkongs, and lotus leaves. When I arrived in a spot where the water seemed to be warmer, I started casting away. For the first few casts, I got some strikes but they easily threw my hooks. An hour later, I caught and released a couple of fishes. Not too big but fun nonetheless.

When the heat was too much to bear, I decided to go to shore and rest under a shade for a while. After a quick re-hydration and rest, I left my kayak and waded near the bank and fished some more. I was lucky enough to catch and release a couple more.

Here is a short video of the trip. The video cam in my kayak is too close to my back so I will be making a few modifications on the camera mount. Next video is on my favorite estuary. Hopefully a Mangrove Jack will show some interest. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Small Piece of Heaven

Last weekend, me and my family went to my wife's hometown to visit her ailing grandmother. We hurriedly left very early Saturday and arrived at around 10am. My wife's grandma is 97 and everyone adores her. A few days ago she suffered a stroke. Two to be exact. Her previously lively demeanor was gone after those episodes. Seeing her bedridden and unable to walk nor talk really made everyone sad.

One thing I really love about her is that she absolutely enjoys it every time I come home with a fresh fish for her. As soon as I arrive home, I go straight to her room to show my prized catch for the day. Mostly, pargo (Mangrove Jacks), a few kitoks (Jack Crevalle), and an occasional dalag (haruan) for her pesa.

This weekend, she barely recognizes everyone and hoping to show her some of my catch wasn't really possible anymore. 

A couple of weeks back, I had to rush to my home province because my father was taken to the hospital because of an almost stroke-like episode. I stayed in the provincial hospital for a week. Once he was strong enough to travel, I took him to Manila for further tests, he again stayed for a few days in the hospital. It was a stressful event. After he got out of the hospital, it was my wife's grandma who was rushed to the hospital. It was indeed a stressful time.

I could not bear see her at that state. It just sucks the life out of me. I had to detox and flush out the stress that was building inside me. I went out that same afternoon and tried to fish for haruan. My goal was "detox" and at the same time catch a couple for her possible last pesa on earth before moving on.

Aside from myself, there was a really thin lady who was also fishing the marsh. I saw her struggling to catch something. Her long thin bamboo pole snagged on a kangkong root and snapped in two. I can see from afar that she was, like me, was stressed out and almost losing hope.

I was lucky enough to catch 9 good sized haruans. I took home three and gave two large ones to the lady. The rest I released. I just felt she needs help. She was surprised and asked why I won't keep all of the fish. I said I need only a few. She said she will sell the fish so she could buy milk for her baby. What she said made my heart sink. Things that we take for granted was a big deal for other people. I think my wife's grandma would have been proud of the gesture.

That day the weather was gloomy and rain clouds threatened with rain. Still, even with the nastiest weather or during a difficult time, this small piece of heaven that I treasure so much always calms me, either through a fish or something else -- gives me strength to move on with life.

Gear used: Majorcraft Slicer 682H, Daiwa Millionaire Bay Casting Special 103L, Powerpro 20lb Braid, Sufix Superior 30lb Mono Leader