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.