Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Daiwa Certate Custom 3500HD

Finally, a Daiwa Certate Custom 3500HD in my collection. This reel has been in my wish list for more than two (2) years already. I had to give up my Catalina to get this reel. It's light and solid. It has an aluminum body and rotor. All the bearings are CRBB. The Certate Custom HD has a machined handle like the ones sold by RCS. Primarily a jigging reel, the Certate was made to withstand heavy use and saltwater abuse.

 Having the same color scheme, it looks great with my Lemax Slimmax light jigging rod. Same color scheme as Millionaire Bay Casting Special 103L.

It is a bit bigger and heavier than my Stella 3000 (with Size 4000 spool). When tested side by side, the Stella is way smoother than the Certate, Perhaps because the Certate has been in storage for a long time and it has experienced its share of abuse. I think if I clean and flush the bearings, soak them in paint thinner, and flush all the crud and old grease using my Ultasonic cleaner, it's going to be as smooth as the Stella if not smoother,

I will use this reel for casting poppers,  jigs, and for madai-inchiku.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kayak Fishing Deep inside a Mangrove Forest - Part 2

The following day, I decided to fish downstream following the outgoing tide. No biggies this time but there were a lot of small ones. Perhaps they are afraid of the big bulls that control upriver.

Released most of the jacks after capture.

I always look around when I catch something. I really try my best to hide my catch from the locals because the minute they notice that something can be caught in the water, they will swarm the spot with spears, nets, and etc until nothing is left alive.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Kayak Fishing Deep in the Mangrove Forest - Part 1

It has been almost 6 months since my last kayak fishing. For this trip, I went deep inside mangrove forest in search for snappers. Using a kayak, I was able to experience nature and its residents. I intentionally did not put any music in this video so everyone can hear the sounds from where I was fishing.

Caught and released most of the jacks.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Trying a Couple of JDM Shimano Reels

I have to admit I am a Daiwa fan ever since I can remember. I have tried reels from Abu such as C3, C4, Classic Inshore, and Revo but I always end up selling them and coming back with Daiwa. They just doesn't fare well. I then tried a few Asia and US model Shimano reels such as Technium spinning, Curado, and Citica but I just can't seem to love them in the end. This is specially true after I have tried using JDM Daiwa reels. Even other Daiwa reels that are not made in Japan have failed to impress me.

A few months ago, I got myself a Calcutta Conquest 101. This is an icon of reel for Shimano fans and have a large following from freshwater and inshore anglers all over the world. It is a very old model reel that never really lost it's appeal.
It is indeed a thing of beauty. It is intricately machined and details were well thought out. It's a machine that has a quality similar to a piece of art.

After using the reel for a few weeks, the appeal did not linger very long. I was expecting a casting performance that exceeds my Daiwa Millionaire Bay Casting Special 103. The reel is pretty no doubt but the performance was not there. It does cast far but for multi tasking duty such as light lures against the wind, it just did not deliver in my experience. In the end, I had to sell it.

I guess I am stuck with my JDM Daiwa casting reels.

Then a few weeks ago, an opportunity came to try one of Shimano's Spinning reel offerings. I had to try their highly regarded Stella. But because of the price, I had to settle with an older model. A JDM 2004 Shimano Stella. The first time I tried it, I was blown away by its smoothness. This is a 9 year old reel but the smoothness cannot be matched by those brand-new-branded models in the market. This is a magnesium-based reel but Shimano markets it as an inshore reel. I sure hope they are right. Magnesium and saltwater do not mix. Anyway, all I have to do now is test the reel in the water and perhaps catch some fish in the process.

Friday, August 16, 2013

First attempt at handmade lures

Can't fish because of work and domestic responsibilities so I tried making a wooden plug from scratch when there's free time. Here's my first attempt on hand-carved, hand-painted wooden plug. Please excuse the eyes as I don't have a 3D version yet. It walks, spits, and knocks. 

All materials came from the local hardware except for the hooks and split rings. Made with wire-through #19 SS wire and double-knocker rattles. 6 layers of epoxy clear coat. Took me 2 weeks to finish this. I wish that it dries faster so I can fish it.

I also discovered 50 pcs of froggy blanks that I designed a couple of years back but never had the chance to paint and rig them. Anyway, I painted one just to see if the idea 2 years back might fly. I think it might. This one's coated with 2 layers of epoxy. 4 more layers and it will shine. 
I might try painting and rigging the rest as soon as the hardware arrives (3D eyes, double hooks, and silicon skirts).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Holy Week Eging (Squid Fishing) and Marinduque Travel Nightmares

It has been a while since I had the chance to try eging or squid fishing. This recent Holy Week was my latest chance to revisit this style of fishing and at the same time visit my parents and our old sea-side kubo (cottage) in Marinduque, my home town.

The trip to and from Marinduque during Holy Week is not for the faint hearted. Traveling to and from the island during Holy week takes absolute patience. We left Manila on March 22, which is not yet the official start of the holiday but travelling to the island was already tough. We left QC at 11pm on the 22nd. We arrived at Dalahican at exactly 2AM on the 23rd. We were eyeing the 4AM RORO trip (ferry) but for some unknown reason, our reservation which was confirmed a few days before never reached the ferry dispatch. In disgust, we had to wait for another 4hours for the next one.

We finally arrived Marinduque at around 11am. That's 12 hours of total travel time. Going home from Marinduque is another nightmare story. After a short drive and an hour of unloading and settling down, I started prepping my kayak for an initial kayak eging.

At around 4pm, I went on and launched the kayak to the nearby reef. Just before dark, I managed to catch one. At first I thought it was just a snag, but when the thing at the end of the line pulled line, I knew instantly it's a biggie squid. Almost a kilo. The most exciting thing about squid fishing is landing the catch. You have to be very careful on when exactly to land it. Not because of losing the squid but because you need  to make sure that it won't squirt ink all over your face -- which they are very good at doing. Imagine yourself in a kayak, floating over a reef under ten to fifteen feet of water, a big squid next to you squirting all over the place. You have no way of running or ducking whatsoever. Not a pretty sight really. That thing literally inked me square on the chest and tummy. It's a good thing I fished with no shirt on. Otherwise, I would have lost a a nice fishing shirt after that incident. Squid ink hardly comes off when it gets on your shirt or pants. I had to leave the kayak for a swim to get all the ink out of my body. As payback, that squid ended up as pulutan the day after.

A few more trips kayak eging produced nice sized squids which I didn't bother taking pictures. I was really after the the 1.5 to 2kg biggies. No such luck on those so maybe I might get a chance on one some other time,

My cousin JB and I tried offshore on early Easter morning. We trolled, tried madai, inchiku, and casted medium sized poppers but no such luck. JB had a hookup during trolling but the hook pulled after the fish peeled a few feet of line. We ended up near Balanacan port, which around 45 minutes by boat from our location. The water was crystal clear, corals are alive, but no sight of a single worthy fish. Then we realized, it was the full moon.

Monday we left at around 2pm to go back to Manila. As soon as we reached the port area, we were greeted by almost a kilometer of vehicles waiting  in line for the ferry ride going back to Lucena.

This is the most gruesome wait for a ferry ride in my entire life. We started waiting in line at around 2:30PM and was able to get a ride at exactly 6:30AM the following day. Ferry companies (Montenegro Lines and Star Horse Lines) in Marinduque refused to travel that night and they instead waited for the following morning. It was pretty obvious that they wanted to wait for the swarm of people instead of  ferrying only vehicles. Commuters that night were quite few as most of them would like to travel during the day. When the morning came, the hordes of people came and the captain instructed everyone to make sure that bunk beds were shared by two people. Imagine that, they prevented everyone from lying down on the bunk beds and instead asked everyone to sit down so that 2 people can accommodate each bed ----and everyone has to pay for the price of one bed. Not only they were overloading but they were also over-charging. You pay for a bunk where you are not allowed to lie down so that you can share it with someone else -- sitting down. What blatant show of greed. I really hope that karma gets them in the end.

We left our house 2pm April 1 and we arrived in Manila 2pm April 2. 24 hours total. I was so tired I could barely eat. My cousin swore that she would not go back to the place in 20 years out of frustration.

Going back to the subject of squid fishing or eging, it is a Japanese style of squid fishing.  It has specific rods, reels, line, and lures that are recommended to achieve the desired results. First off is the rod, it's very supple and has a strong back bone. It is designed for very light PE lines (6-8lbs) which is as thin as a human hair that allows the angler to cast the jigs in great distances and also provide minimum visibility so as not to spook the squids. The rod can lob a 3.5 even a 4.5 size Egi or squid jig, which is an equivalent of around 1 to 1.5 oz lure. Not only can it handle this heavy lure but it's also designed to land squids up to 3kg. Another interesting feature of this rod is its ability to absorb the vicious strokes to provide the desired action on the Egi. The stroke is called Syakluri.

The stroke is akin to whacking the rod with considerable force and rhythm a couple of times, making the jig jump erratically like a scared shrimp. The stroke literally makes the reel drag scream every time a stroke is done. The rod's tip is soft which allows it to absorb, without tearing, the sudden surge of a fleeing squid. The reel also as a unique feature. It usually has a very shallow spool. That's because it uses very light line and the shallow spool allows for extra casting distance. Another feature of these eging reel is the anti-reverse bearing which is usually tougher so as to handle the eging strokes. In my opinion, normal spinning reels will not be able to handle this style of fishing because of the constant and whack of the rod and lure.

All in all, the fishing and hanging out in the beach was fun but travelling to my island province at that time is always painful -- all because of the greedy ferry operators. May the big squids feast of their carcasses.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Camping and Fishing for Bass

The second trip to Pantabangan was planned a month ago. Like all other planned trips, something unexpected usually happens. We were hoping for a calm and sunny weather last weekend. Instead of that calm and sunny weather, the Amihan (cool northeast wind) was blowing the entire two days that we were there. Along with it blew tropical depression Crising. The trip was an EB-Camping-Fishing trip with our visitors from overseas. There a total of 14 anglers from Despite the weather, everyone was in good spirits and unmistakable excitement.
We left Manila at around 11:30pm and we drove to North Luzon Expressway via Mindanao Avenue. We met with the other Filang guys at Lakeshore past midnight. With them was Larry from Texas and Kenny from BC Canada. Even while in Pampanga, it was already cold and windy and we knew that we were in for a nasty fishing weather. After a bit of waiting for others to arrive, we left past 2 in the morning and arrived at Pantabangan around 6am. It was freezing and the wind was howling. The water level in the dam is already low and we had to walk down on a steep hill to get to our bankas. Upon loading we immediately went to our base camp -- a small shack in a floating fish cage. After unloading extra gear, everyone hurriedly rigged and started fishing.

Fishing in this condition was relatively tough, we were unable to cross the dam to get to the other side. That's where we caught most of our bass last month. The wind stirred up big waves that made crossing dangerous. So we settled with fishing near the fish cage(s). Even close to shore, the wind made fishing texas rigged worms difficult. It literally blew our rods making it difficult to feel those subtle bites.
Nonetheless, some of us managed to get a few nice fish. Me, I got a few from t-rigs but what really caught me a lot of them is my trusted Daiwa E-Gee eging rod with Daiwa TDA 1500 on 6lb Fireline -- my squid fishing combo which acted as a wonderful dropshot rod and reel.
We fished the entire day up until around 8pm when it was really cold and the hunger was unbearable. After a few minutes rest, we set up camp up on top of the hill next to the fish cages. The view from there was spectacular but the wind was biting. Our boatmen prepped a camp fire and cooked sausages, hot dogs, and other goodies. After a great shore meal, most of the guys dozed off while some of us tried some brandy to fight off the cold. After a few shots, everyone fell asleep. 
While others brought tents, some us didn't and we slept in the open using a huge election campain tarpauline as our bed. It was so cold because of the wind, even with three layers of jacket, sweater, and long sleeved shirt, plus thick socks, I still had to roll the tarp over my body to keep me from shivering. By 3 in the morning, Mikko was already waking everyone so we can go back fishing. So fishing we went in the freezing morning until 9am. I got a few bass from t-rigs and drop shot when the moon was still up but at around 5am, the moon sets and dark took over, then the bites stopped. Since then, not a single bite until 9 in the morning. It appeared that the bass are already spawning and are no longer actively feeding.
We hoped for a better weather but it never came. Even so, everyone had a great time. By 10am, we packed our stuff and drove off to Jiro's for those sumptous Lomi, Liempo, and Liempo Sisig. That hearty meal made up for the bad weather and less than stellar fishing. 

Maybe just before April, the weather will be better. I just hope I have the time to fish there again. Unfortunately, I was told that bass fishing season is almost over by end March. If not this April, then next year again.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Learning to catch Bass using Plastic Worms

Last weekend, Mikko, RC, Jike, and I drove North to Pantabangan to fish for Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides). This was my 2nd trip to Pantabangan and my fifth (5th) attempt to catch a Large Mouth Bass using Texas rigs (T-rigs).

My first trip to Panta last November, although absolutely fun, was disappointing in terms of catching Bass using a T-rig. I was humbled by a lot of missed strikes and missed hook-sets. At that time, I managed to catch 1 fish in 2 days. It was actually the first and only Large Mouth Bass I have caught using this method and I was not really confident that I learned anything. I still think that I cannot feel the sinker hitting the bottom, I cannot feel the faint thumps of the sinker when it hits a rock or log, and most importantly, I cannot really feel subtle bites of the fish. I was stumped on what was causing this problem. I asked my Mikko to try my gear on a couple of occasions. He also noticed that he was unable to feel anything. Our conclusion, it could be the stiff and heavy rod. I was using the Majorcraft Basspara BPC-662MH, 12-20lbs 2pc rod and a Majorcraft Slicer 12-25lb rod mounted on reels with 50lb braid.

Like me, Jike was also dreaming of catching Bass using T-rigs. He is also struggling to learn the art of t-rigs. It's a good thing our mentor Mikko,  is determined to teach us this method. If we still cannot catch Bass by the time the trip is done, he swore that he will jump into the water butt naked. Although I don't want to scare off the fishes, the prospect of seeing him freeze his butt off in the cold would have been hilarious. Believe it or not, Mikko and I even had a training session in Lake Caliraya a week before this trip. But the bad weather and uncooperative bass left us with zero fish in T-rigs. Instead we caught a few small ones using eging gears on jerkbaits.

At around 12 midnight last Saturday, Miko, RC, and Jike picked me up using the Bass Van (Mikko's MB100 fitted for fishing trips -- rod racks and all). We arrived at Pantabangan at around 4am but we had some permit issues with one of the guards that was posted on the last gate that provides access to the dam's shore. After about half an hour of long negotiation, we were finally let inside. We hurriedly started rigging. It was absolutely freezing in Panta. It could have been 6 degrees Centigrade on my estimate. Rigging was a pain when your fingers are aching from the cold.

For this trip, I decided to tone down my rig. I brought with me my trusted Shimano Clarus 6ft 8-17lb Medium rod. I also brought my Daiwa Sol with 20lb braid (thanks to Ito). I also brought with me a drop shot gear (Daiwa 1500 spinning reel mounted on an Eging rod) in case the BC setup still fails me. As soon as we were done rigging, we boarded the bankas and immediately started fishing. Mikko and I on one boat and Jike and RC on the other. Our boatman took us to a nearby reliable spot. On his first cast, without even twitching the bait, Mikko was on a fish. It was a big fish.

I casted to the same area where Mikko caught the fish. As soon as the sinker hits the water, I immediately knew I was using was the right gear for this purpose. I felt the sinker bumped when It reached the bottom. I hopped the worm and felt every wiggle and thump the sinker did when it hits the bead. From that moment on, I knew, the rig I am on was going to make a whole lot of difference. It was an amazing feeling.  I made a couple of twitch and then it happened. I felt the thump (tsug-tsug as veteran Filipino bass anglers would describe it). I reeled-in the slack then set the hook. It's was orgasmic --- setting the hook and feeling that I connected to a fish. My first real fish on t-rig. It was small but it was the start of something absolutely fun. Mikko, who was also excited as I was, immediately took a picture for documentation purposes. I am sure, the prospect of swimming this freezing water while butt naked was not something he wants to experience.

So there I was, I caught my first bass on t-rig but I was still unconvinced that I was able to crack the code. So after I released the fish, I casted once more just to know if I really felt what I felt. I made a few hops and again it happed. I felt every brack and bump the sinker and the bead made. I also felt a fish grabbing the worm. Not a regular thump but a subtle hold on the worm. I reeled the slack and then set the hook. It was fish on. A bit bigger than the first. Mikko asked me if I was already confident on my t-rig skill. I said, I was still unconvinced. Perhaps after a few more fish. After every fish I landed, Mikko would ask if I was able to get the idea. I said maybe after a few more. Mikko stopped asking questions. He was also busy fishing. By 7am, the bites died down and we got back to our hut for breakfast. RC caught a lot of lunkers while Mikko and I caught a few more.

Jike was not lucky as we were. He was not able to hook onto a bass. Mikko decided that it was Jike's turn to join him in the boat for first hand lessons in t-rigs. After breakfast, we went to a spot located on the opposite side of the dam. RC and I on a leaky and a bit unstable boat (short outriggers and shallow water line), Jike and Mikko on the other. The area we went to looked promising but when we arrived, a lot of locals and other anglers were already there. Immediately, we were able to catch fish but then the wind started to pick up, we had to abandon the spot. We didn't have an anchor or drift sock, so we had to leave the area and take cover at the back of island. Other local fishermen joined us in taking cover. At around 4pm, the bites picked up on the very spot where we were sheltered. RC caught a big one, probably a 2kg fish. Other locals were also catching bass. Jike also broke his dry spell and was able to crack the T-rig code and managed to land them including some lunkers.

By late afternoon, we had to dock to the island to stay away from the freezing wind. The locals left or hid from the cold. We could not go back to our camp because the waves were too dangerous for us to cross. While waiting for the wind to die down, we fished the shore even when the waves were rough.I managed to catch a few using dropshot rig while Jike caught a couple using t-rig.
When the light faded, the cold became intense. To fight off hunger (our last meal was breakfast at around 8am) and the cold, our boatmen prepped a camp fire using whatever dry sticks they can find. They cleaned a few fish grilled them on stick. It could be the cold or perhaps the hunger, but I swear the grilled bass were the best tasting grilled fish that I have ever tried.

The hot meal was like a mana for anglers. By the time we were done eating, we were back on our boat and fishing for bass despite of the cold and the wind. Amazingly, the locals probably did the same --made fire, cooked and ate their catch. Out of nowhere, they joined us and congregated again at the back of the island. At first we, including the locals were able to catch  a few, but immediately after it started, the bites died down. 

At around 10pm, the wind slowed down a bit and we decided to take a chance and cross the dam to the other side. Everyone secured their belongings and donned their life vests. The better boat of the two (Mikko and Jike's boat) took lead. But because it was really dark and they were running fast and without light, we lost track of where they went. Our boat man, who is a newbie in this affair, was not familiar on where to go in the dark. It was really scary. We lost our way while crossing big swells. Wet and disorientated, it was really frustrating. Fortunately, we saw the familiar red light from Jike's lamp from afar. We followed it and made it back with nothing more than wet clothes and soaked gears.

Tired, everyone dozed off for a while. By around 1am, Mikko was back up and woke everyone to go back and fish. The wind was moderate but the chill was getting intense. We went back to the spot near the island. Irving and Richard arrived shortly after. Unfortunately, the bites were few and far in between so RC and I left that spot and we went to the opposite side of the dam. There we caught a few lunkers. Again, immediately after it started, the bites disappeared. After an hour or so, no more bass. I called Jike on his mobile and he told us that the bites started to pick up as soon as we left. They were hauling bass after bass. We hurriedly went back but when we arrived the bites disappeared. We just managed to catch a few bass.

Disappointed, wet, and cold, RC and the boatman dozed off while I tried to fish, paddle, and bail the leaking boat. By 4am, we called it quits and went back to the camp and slept through the freezing cold.
The following morning at around 7am, the cold was more intense than the previous day. I actually think my foot froze when I slept without any blanket or socks. Reluctantly, we went back to fish after having cup noodles and coffee. We did not catch any from t-rigs that morning but I managed to catch a couple using my drop shot gear. At around 9am, we were back on shore packing up our gear.

Just before 10am, we were on the road. We stopped by Rizal town to try out the famous Jiro's liempo, liempo sisig (crispy grilled pork bellies), and a hot bowl of lomi (noodles). After that sumptous meal, we drove back to Manila. It was an awesome trip. Thanks to Mikko (and RC) for coaching us on t-rig fishing and for organizing the trip (food, snacks, and the ride) and to JP and Pao for the accomodation and boats/boatmen. It was tiring but it was one of the best fishing trips that I have ever had. Lot's of learnings, excellent spot, and excellent company.

Three things I learned from this bass fishing trip. The first is the importance of the correct rod for worming specially for its rod sensitivity. When using t-rigs or even drop shot rigs, a sensitive rod allowed me to detect all the subtle movements of the baits, sinkers, and a bite of the fish. With that, I am saving some cash and selling a few rods to so I can invest on a nice 1pc bass rod designed for soft plastics specifically for worms.  Perhaps a St. Croix, not to expensive but with high quality. The second, is to buy only tried and tested worms in recommended colors,  good quality worm hooks, and the correct sinkers for t-rig and dropshot. Having the correct baits and terminal tackle really makes a difference. Lastly, even if it is not your boat, bring a good anchor and drift sock. They can really help keep your boat in the hot spot longer and lessen the effort to search for bites.

On our next bass trip, I will again try to re-learn the art of the t-rig and dropshotting. This time, in the comfort of a kayak.