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.