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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Black Bass or Mangrove Jack?

I have been browsing the net for fishing tips on Mangrove Jacks and I came accross an article on Black Bass, Niugini bass, or Papuan Black Bass (Lutjanus goldiei).

After reading through the article, it occurred to me that the there might be Black Bass in the Philippines and these were probably the ones that keep on busting my tackle and stealing my lures. Here are pictures of a few of my catches. Below is the big one (3.5kg). It was wide, thick, and has golden fins. They were vicious on the first run. I have lost a lot of lures already during their initial run. Almost all of them snapped my 20lb braid. I caught this momma on 35lb Sufix braid. From experience, 20lb braid is not enough to stop their first run.

I have also caught smaller fishes and they have the yellow fins, wide body, and they have stripes, similar to what was described in the article.

If this is indeed a Black Bass, and not Mangrove Jacks, this means that it is possible that there are bigger specimens in the Philippines. Up to 30kg! Oh boy, I think I better start learning how to cast Top Water lures using my Accurate Boss!