Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lakeshore Toman

On my way to Subic for the New Year holiday, I decided to pass by Lakeshore to get re-acquainted with the resident Tomans. It was almost 8am when I got there. I started at the far end of the lake hoping the late feeders will still be there at that time. No luck. Not only was it late, but also the water was quite low at that side. At around 9am, the sun was already bright and scorching hot, I decided to walk back towards the other end of the lake so I could pay my entrance fee and get some ice cream and coke.

To my surprise, Jiggs and Ahmed and his guests were there as well. Jiggs was helping out Ahmed to catch his first Toman while Ahmed was helping his guests catch bangus. After exchanging a few laughs and stories, we went back fishing. Lucky for me, Jiggs shared his secret spot. Being a true addict, I wasted no time casting at the side of the bank. After 15 minutes, a huge explosion under my 5-inch red head popper.  Probably 3kg. It was a nice fight on a popper. Jiggs and Ahmed helped me land and photograph the fish. After a short while, we released it back to the lake.

Soon after, Jiggs went home for some errands while Ahmed and company decided to transfer to Apalit so his guests can enjoy some pangasius action.

Me, I walked towards the Lakeshore office to pay my fee. But before paying, I decided to cast some more. Just under the dock, a big momma lunged at my red head. It missed the lure by a few inches but I think it touched the hard body lure because after trying a few more times, it just didn't make any attempt after.

I changed lures and used a big Booyah spinner courtesy of Lagriffe. On the third cast, the momma took the lure and dove under the dock. It's a good thing I was using a 50lb braid and 40lb leader. Even when the line wraped around the pilings under the dock, I was able to pull the fish out. It was 4kg. The photo did not give the fish justice. It has a live bait hook sticking on its side. According to the lakeshore employees, someone foul hooked it a week ago. A salvage fisherman perhaps. The fish did the same tactic and dove under the dock and broke the fisherman's line.

At around 10, I went to McDonalds for a late breakfast and then drove off to Subic.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Revisiting Irving's Bulacan Barra Pond

Since Irving seeded his pond with Barramundi 2 years ago, I haven't tried fishing there. I tried fishing for the haruans there a long time ago, but at that time, there were no barras. I saw them when they were a few weeks old and they were just around 2 inches, and were living in a netted section of the pond, but that was it. That was 2 years ago.

Last year, when the Barras were a year old, I saw Irving, Mikko, Pao, Chris, and Richard's report. The Barras were averaging 2kg each. Absolutely fascinating. 

Unfortunately, a few months ago, extreme flooding affected the pond. The barras were assumed to have escaped. Lately Irving was able to catch some and they have grown quite significantly.

Yesterday, when Irving asked me to test it before the December 2 event, I didn't think twice. I had to try it. I wasn't expecting so much, probably a lucky shot at 3kg 3.5kg and a few dalag at 1.5 to 2kg would make my day.

To my surprise. I got something absolutely fascinating. I caught a 4.2 kg, a 4.5kg Barra, and 1.5kg dalag, and this one.

Early in the morning, I was able to hook into around 7 bidbids. I was using 50lb braid, 40lb leader, an a 76lb snap. All of them were able to throw the hook. If I had a small jerkbait, I might have caught a few of them.

All of the Barramundis were caught, photographed, and released.


A snakehead



I know there are big ones in there. Probably more than 8kg. Can't wait for December 2.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mangrove Jacks and Philippine Black Snappers

The long weeked gave me an opportunity to fish my favorite target -- MJs and, what I would call, Philippine Black Snappers. Because of previous bad experiences with unworthy tackle, I changed my gear to slightly heavier setup.  I was using a Ryoga 2020HL with 50lb Sufix Matrix Pro braid, 40lb Lemax Leader. The rod I used was a Daiwa Procyon Flippin Stick. 17-30lb 7'6". Alternately, I used a modified Zillion with 50lb braid and a similar 40lb leader. Initially, I used the Zillion on a Majorcraft Slicer 6'8" 12-25lb rod but got scared that I might break the rod when stopping the fishes from reaching snags. So I sticked with Ryoga and the Flippin Stick.

So here's my personal take on the gears I used:

Terminal Tackle

Ok, I said I will not use these snaps anymore. But back then I was using the 55lb version --- the small ones. I thought that if I upsized the snap to 75lbs, it will survive these fishes ok. I was wrong.

Brand New 75lb Ten Mouth Snap mangled

Below are Owner Stinger #2 treble hooks. I oversized the hooks of my lures from the regular #4 to #2. I noticed that fishes can easily escape from small #4 trebles because they sometimes cannot penetrate the snappers' hard jaws.

Brand New pair of Owner Stingers Size 2 straightened

The Sufix Matrix Pro was an old line, probably four years old but still a strong reliable line. Although noisy on the guides, it made up for it in strength resistance to fraying. Surprisingly, the Lemax 40lb leader was able to withstand severe abrasion. There was one time when a 2kg MJ was able to pull line from the Zillion and managed to dive into the rocks, I was still able to pull it without the line snapping. These rocks are full of oyster shells. The line was severely frayed but managed to hold the fish longer for me to net it.

The lure? It's a Halco. What can I say, the paint tells all. I caught all except 3 of them using this one lure --- I got it for P50.

Rods and Reels

The Ryoga and the Flippin Stick are damn heavy. My right wrist is still aching from casting, working the lures, and retrieving fish. But despite the weight, the combo was an absolute beast in terms of stopping and cranking power. 

While the Zillion is capable of landing snappers in close quarter battle, these fishes are still able to pull a few feet of line which are all they need to get them to snags. The Ryoga on the other hand, has the power and torque to muscle them to where I want them to go. The downside is that my arms took all the beating during the fight.

In the end, if the fishing situation demands powerful rods and reels despite the weight, I wouldn't take anything else than the Ryoga on a heavy rod.

The Fishes

The smallest was 800 grams. The biggest was 2.25kg. A Black Snapper is thicker and rounder and the fangs are longer compared to an MJ.

And the most interesting thing about Black Snappers is that they don't taste good. Not even comparable to an MJ or a grouper. At first I thought that the fishes I got were not prepared properly or they have been dead longer than MJs. I had a couple of Blackies that were alive before cooking. The MJs had been dead for an hour or so. Both MJs and Blackies were cooked and prepared the same way. Still the MJs tasted better thank the Blackies.

I am thinking that the reason for their poor taste is because they live in freshwater. This also explains their coloration. They literally taste like freshwater fish. They taste like an overaged tilapia.

Come to think of it, I always catch Black Snappers on an outgoing tide downstream and also catch them on high tide but way upstream, never downstream. I think they follow the salinity of the water. When salinity is low, that's where they can be found.

So, the next time I catch a Philippine Black Snapper, I will be releasing them so that they can propagate and get bigger. Besides, they don't taste good.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Daiwa Catalina 4000

Saltiga Z's younger brother. I got this to replace the TDA4000 that I let go a few months back. This thing's heavy, solid, and the tolerances are so tight.

Features full metal body (frame and rotor), 10kg max tournament drag, manual return bail system, Cam driven oscillation, Water proof body and Drag, Titanium twist buster line roller, rotor brake in casting, tough air bail wire, floating pinion gear, digital cut gear from material 1.6 times stronger than duralumin, perfect double stopper (infinite roller and mechanical).

My plan is to use this reel for shore or boat casting and light jigging. I might load it with 35lb Varivas casting braid. I will probably get a Majorcraft Crostage Boat Casting 7'6" rod. PE 1.5 to 3 or PE 2-4 for shore and boat casting and if I still have the funds, I will get a boat jigging rod.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

To Snap or not to Snap: Snap swivels when Lure Fishing

I regularly use snap swivels when lure fishing. Retying every time I change a lure is too much work for me. This is specially true when I am still trying to figure out what lure is getting hit. I have to try different lures after a few casts --  wtd, poppers, spinners, suspending jerkbaits, floating jerkbaits, cranks, and so on until I get that perfect lure that fishes are after. Cutting and retying means you lose time and also leaders.

This is where a snap swivel comes in handy. Just tie on a snap and switching lures is easy. I have tried a few lure snaps and the latest was this 56lb test Ten Mouth Snap swivel. A Japanese snap, as I was told. It was ok for a while. I have been using it on fresh water, saltwater, and there were no major issues as far as I can remember.

But lately, when I started using heavier main line -- 35lbs and then lately, 50lbs, it started to fail.

Last week, I fished for snakeheads up North using a slightly heavy rod. I loaded the reel with 35lbs and for a while it was ok.

Later in the day, I got bit by a biggie. Probably 1.5 kg. When I was trying to muscle the fish to the bank, it rolled and was able to escape. The frog  separated from the main line. Luckily, the frog floats and I was able to retrieve it. Upon inspection, the snap twisted and opened up.

Then just last weekend, it happened again. I went to a nearby pond to test my heavy saltwater combo. 50lb braid on a 7'6" 17-30lb Flippin Stick. At first, the snap held up ok after a decent sized fish. Then I tied on a bigger sized frog to see how far the combo can cast. Casted really far with the frog. Twitched it a bit and then something bit. I set the hook and it was a solid contact. I knew instantly that it was a Toman (Giant Snakehead). A short run then my line flew back to my face. Lost my new frog because the snap snapped.

So, with these failures, I decided to stop using snaps when lure fishing. Back to Rapala knot, improved clinch, or uni knot. Not only will I save my lures, I will also save some cash. These snaps are not cheap.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trying out a Daiwa Ryoga 2020HL

I had been aching to try this reel for my saltwater fishing needs. After my recent tussle with a suspected Black Bass or New Guinea Bass, my desire to get this reel was even more unbearable.

Then, a few weeks back, it happened. I was finally able to get a Ryoga 2020HL. My first reaction after receiving it? Oh boy, it's a tank!
It's a no-nonsense work horse of a reel. It looks like it's built for muscle fishing, rough and tough, but when you crank it, it's unbelievably smooth and the drag is outstanding. It has a clicker so when a fish runs, you can hear an audible clicking sound similar to a spinning reel. With 12CRBB, a sealed drag, and machined frame and side plates, it's worth every penny spent. 

I immediately spooled it with 35lb varivas and tied on a puny 20lb mono for a leader. I realized I have no leader heavier than 20 and I still don't have a matching rod. Heck, even so, I went out to try a few casts and feel how this machine stacks up against my other reels. No salt spot nearby so I had to make do with an old haruan (dalag) spot. 

I love the way it casts. It's actually better casting than my Bay Casting Special or my Zillion. It's probably the RCS spool which makes it a awesome casting machine. The power is also amazing. I was able to winch a few haruans from heavy vegetation without any problems. The reel looks bulky but when you grip it, it's actually comfortable to hold, cast, and work my lures with.

Technically, it's an inshore reel and it's a no contest when used on snakeheads. Perhaps when a Toman or a Black bass is on the other end of the line, it will probably show how powerful the reel is. 

For my next project, I need to get a heavy flipping and pitching rod in the 15-30lb class, probably 7'6" and can handle up to 3 ounces of lure. I sure hope it balances well with this Ryoga 2020HL. I am not really going to do flipping and pitching for bass (well, maybe I would if I have a chance to go to Pantabangan or Lumot). Instead, I am planning to use this for light popping, heavy swimbaits, spoons/jigs, and even live bait, while on a kayak.

Then maybe a little later, a nice light jigging/madai rod that matches this reel. Something I can use while on a kayak or when a banca.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Some more Daiwa Zillion Upgrades and a few more Dalag (Haruan/Snakehead)

I'm almost finished upgrading my Daiwa Zillion PLA Crazy Cranker. Last time, I got a 6.3 gear and pinion as secondary gear set as the all-purpose gear for top water fishing. I can still use the 4.9 gear for heavy cranking and heavy spinners or for bottom bouncing.

Last month, I ordered a Daiwa Aggrest swept handle, a set of Carbontex for Daiwa Zillion, and a set of Daiwa Wormgear upgrade from It was also a perfect timing because Kenny, our generous angler friend from Canada sent me some stainless steel handle bearings and Ceramic bearings for Daiwa Zillions.

All in all, below are the upgrades for the Zillion Crazy Cranker:

1. 6.3 Gear and Pinion
2. Carbontex Drag Washer
3. Worm Gear Bearing
4. Aggrest Swept Handle
5. 4-bearing Paddles

After the upgrade, my Zillion is now 12-bearing reel (stock reel has only 6-bearings). It feels smoother when cranking than it was before.

The next upgrade is to install the Ceramic bearings that I got from Kenny (after I find a spool pin remover) and some cork handles.

I went out yesterday and tested the reel on Dalag (Haruan). Got myself 4 nice sized snakeheads. All were caught, photographed, and released.

Go to Daiwa Zillion: Upgrading the Gear and Pinion plus Drag Washer

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dalag (Haruan/Snakehead) Fishing Again

My cousin Bulador and I did some fishing over the weekend. Originally, we planned to fish salt from shore. We started as early as 5:30am using lures and different live and dead baits. After almost four hours and three different spots, we did not get a single bite. It's pretty obvious that the spots were overfished.

I recalled that we passed by some flooded ponds on our way to the salt spots. Without any hope of catching anything from shore fishing, we decided to go dalag fishing instead. Lots of rains in the past weeks and I hoped that the haruans would be active. It's a good thing that I always bring haruan lures whenever I go salt fishing.You never know if there's a good dalag (haruan) infested water near by.

True enough, dalags (haruan) did not disappoint. We caught 8 in less than 2 hours. Bulador caught 2 while I got 6. The last fish I caught as over 1kg. My heavy casting rod was flawless in it's hook setting power.

An old man who was riding a bike noticed me while I was landing a fish and decided to stop to observe. When I unhooked the fish, took a picture, and released the fish back into the water, he almost fell off his bike in disbelief. "Bakit mo pinakawalan??" (Why in the world did you let it go?) screamed the old man. I politely said "Para dumani pa". (So that they will be able to reproduce.) Scratching his head, he insisted that I just give him the fish if I caught one. I said yes politely while I stealthily moved to another spot. The old man  still followed me at first. When I kept on moving and after a few cast, I think he got tired and left me alone. After he left, I caught and released two more. :-0

All fishes were released after their pictures were taken.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day My Time - Dalag (Haruan/Snakehead) Time

It has been a while since I did some Haruan fishing. I tried haruan fishing in Zambales last summer but the water had dried up and there were not much haruans anymore. We did some fishing in ANP a few days back but we only got a few bangus (milkfish) on light tackle. Although bangus was really fun on 6lb line, the feeling of a haruan strike on topwater is much more exciting.

Luckily, a few weeks ago, PAGASA declared that summer has officially ended. True enough, the rains started pouring almost every day. Ponds and marshes started to fill with water once more and haruans started to become active. On our way to ANP last Sunday – for a father’s day my-time-fish-time, we passed by a few flooded areas and did some haruan exploration. The wind was a bit strong and it was constantly raining all the time. Still, we decided to stop for a while to explore the waters. I did not bring a top water rod because the original plan was to check out ANP’s barra using jerkbaits. Instead of using frogs, I used my trusted spinner to check for haruan presence. I could not believe my luck. At my first cast and at the first crank, a smallish haruan struck my lure. I gave the rod a light hook set and landed my first fish. An old man saw me landing the fish and was about to come near me. I feared that he will ask for the fish so I released it back into the water without taking any photo.

I was convinced that haruans are already active. I took out my old battered frog and casted away using a jerkbait rod. It was really frustrating at first. So many strikes but I just can’t hook them up. The rod (a repaired Fenwick HMG) was just too soft to get a proper hook set. After the sixth fish that I lost due to poor hook set, I stopped counting. To compensate, I tightened my drag further and decided to give a couple of pump when there's a strike to ensure that the hooks would penetrate the haruan's jaw. I still lost a few fishes but I managed to land four.

The last one was above one kilo. It managed to destroy my old frog by chewing it inside out, removing the hook from the body and flipping the hook over. The hook retainer almost pulled out through the hook barb. Amazing.




Bong’s experience, on the other hand, was not so good compared to mine. His rod was softer than what I was using. He kept on getting strikes but was not able get a proper hook set. In the end, he was not able to land any.

A real frog rod or a top water rod is really important specially if the target fish have tough jaws that need strong hook sets.

After I lost my old battle-scarred frog to a tree, we decided not to proceed to ANP and called it a day instead – just in time for a father’s day treat from my kids.