Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bay jigging Zambales and my epic struggle to find a good fishfinder battery

In the past couple of years or so, jigging has caught on locally and it is now a very popular method of fishing. With the help of social media, more and more people are posting spectacular catches through jigging and with each picture, more and more anglers are getting inspired to also take on this style of fishing.

Fairly recently, Zambales province in the north of  Philippines has gained popularity as a prime jigging spot. And it wasn't a surprise. In the past few months alone, a lot of anglers are catching different kinds on fish from jigging. From the huge Giant Trevallies (GT), Wahoos, Yellowfin Tuna, to the tasty Coral trouts. And what's amazing is that almost all of them were caught using light jigging tackle -- PE1.5-3.0 using 100-150g jigs. Aside from the variety and number of catches, more and more anglers are flocking to the province because it is also very accessible. From Manila, you can get to the spot in around 3 hours.

Sometime during the middle of last year, I also got into this trend and was able to test my Ryoga Bay Jigging C2020PE HL with Daiko Spear Jigging rod that had been collecting dust in my rod rack. Relatively speaking, I did fairly well on the first attempt. I got a decent sized Trevally and a Rainbow Runner using an Ima Ganpeki jig. I could have caught more if not for my fishfinder battery (Sealed Lead Acid 7AH) that died after just a few hours of fishing.

After that, no more jigging trips. The next jigging trip was when I joined Naks, our Japanese jigging master, for a night jigging session last December. Because of  strong wind and big waves plus another fail on the fishfinder battery (3AH Motorcycle battery ), we had to cut the trip short. Nonetheless, we still managed to catch a lot of Barracudas using luminous 100g jigs. Naks was able to land a cuda that was more than four feet long. I think it was around 6-8kg. The fish wouldn't fit in the cooler and nobody want's it inside the boat because of its big set of teeth that can easily chop off a couple our toes.

Anyway, a couple of weeks after that trip, I managed to try jigging again in Zambales as a detour during a visit to my in-laws, Unfortunately I forgot to get a better battery. As expected, the fishfinder battery was dead after less that 3 hours of fishing. My boatman didn't bring an anchor and was unable to locate the hole due to the strong current. Still, I am convinced that the method is very effective (especially when on the right fishing spot with a really nice structure). During the first 2 hours of jigging (with the aid of a fishfinder), I managed to catch 6 table-sized fish using 80-120g jigs. I also lost around three big ones that pulled drag and straightened my hooks like they were nothing.
From my limited experiences during these trips, I am convinced that the use of a good quality fish finder (and a good quality battery) is really important especially if your boatman is clueless when it comes to finding the right fishing spot. In Zambales such as the town of Pundaquit, a seasoned boatman is very hard to come by. They are almost always booked by other anglers. Most of the remaining boatmen are mostly into island hopping tours and have no experience in fishing. 

Having a good sounder is a good alternative and it will save you a lot of effort, time, and money finding underwater structures that hold fish. Jigging is tiring and exerting energy on a barren area is a waste of time. 

So what's a decent fishfinder? For me, a dual beam ff that can reach at least 200m in Saltwater is a good choice. I am using a Garmin Echo 500C that has 200 and 77mhz beam. It is cheap (if you know where to look) and it is very easy to use. A lot of fishfinders being sold online do not divulge the real depth that it can see in saltwater. Most of them will only go as deep as 50m. So, you have to really check how powerful it can go. The low freq beam of the Echo 500c can penetrate deep into saltwater and can deliver great bottom detail up to 250m deep when I tested it. The high freq beam can show a wide detail around the boat up to 50m in saltwater. The resolution also is very nich even in really bright sunlight. The problem is, it draws around 1amp of current every hour which explains why my batteries get drained easily. Next time I use it, I will get a 24mah deep cycle battery. Based on my calculations, it should last at least 12 hours of fishing. I hope this will address this problem once and for all.