I've heard of Grande Island as a great fishing destination for god knows how long. The funny thing is, Grande is very near my wife's house in Olongapo but for almost 15 years of going back and forth from Manila to Olongapo, I never really visited the place. I wanted to, but I always seem to miss the chance to go there.
Last week, I got an invite from Naks Nakamura. Our Japanese fishing mentor and JDM tackle supplier. He organized a fishing trip because the resort recently offered a great deal. Instead of the usual 10:30am-4pm day trip, it will be a 7am-5pm pm fishing outing. I immediately grabbed the chance and went. I always imagined the big trevs and queenies from the shore using very light tackle. And as a bonus, I might even get to tussle with the famed GTs (Giant Trevallies) in Chiquita -- a small uninhabited islet next to Grande.
|Photo by Joseph Gueco|
We arrived at the Grande ferry station at around 6am yesterday. Me and Richmond did not waste any time and rigged our UL gears while waiting for the boat that will ferry us across. After around 5 minutes of casting, a big trev grabbed my sinking pencil and took it for a dive under the dock. It was a long drag-screaming run and when it was about to reach the rocky pillar, I was forced to tighten the drag to stop it. The fish was too much for my #16 treble and straightened all of the barbs. It was a great sign that fishing was going to be exciting. Minutes past and the rest of the group arrived and we immediately boarded the boat to the island.
At a round 7:30, we got to the island and started rigging. A few minutes and we were off casting our UL gears in the beach. Fishing Grande means you really have to get wet. At times, up to chest deep while casting. I got a few takers from rock fishes including a feisty Parrot fish. After the warm up we went straight to Chiquita island for some serious GT fishing. While we were crossing the channel that separates Grande from Chiquita (about waist deep), we saw a big shadow lazily swimming the shallows. It was a black tip shark. Our guess was about 20-30kg. We had to create some sort of commotion to scare it away. Bebong, our guide and GT fishing expert guided us to cast to a lagoon at the northern tip of the islet. It wasn't long when something tried to snatch my cheap 40-gram popper. I frantically set the hook on reflex --- which I learned later was a wrong move. The rod bent but the hooks did not connect as the popper came flying back, narrowly missing my face. I learned later that I have set the hook too early. Naks advised that I had to wait for about a second before setting the hook --- just enough time until the fish gets to turn around giving the hook the right angle to connect. I tried casting again for a good half hour but no takers so Joseph and I moved to another spot further north leaving Bebong behind. Ironically. a few minutes later, Bebong was able to land a 6kg on that very spot using a 120gm popper. Pure skill and luck.
I tried following Rich to where he caught his 15kg GT but I chickened out when I learned that I had to literally swim to the casting position. I cannot imagine how he was able to get there pass through the sharks with bleeding foot and all. I tried with all my strength and waded after him but had to turn back fearing I might drown, dunk my gears, and get eaten by sharks.
Anyway, the Chiquita GTs were not cooperating so we changed our game plan and went back to Grande for UL fishing. UL from shore in the north of Grande was tough. Lots of wading and swimming over barnacle-crusted rocks. We ended up with lots of cuts and bruises instead of fishes. Fortunately for us, Bluefin trevallies were plenty in the beach near the pier and most of them are very eager to take sinking pencils and ultra light jigs. I hooked and lost a few but managed to land my first Bluefin Trevally. The fight was absolutely fantastic. I didn't think the hooks would hold. Luckily I ended up with one, saving me from getting heckled by my wife when I got home.
At around 5pm, we left Grande. It was a wonderful experience highlighted with great fishing action. I also realized that the fishing style there was great exercise with all the walking, wading, jumping from rocks to rocks, and swimming. I honestly think that I lost a few pounds from that day trip.
I will definitely go back and perhaps stay the night to maximize the fishing time.