Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Micro jigging in the time of Covid19

After a month-long Covid19 quarantine where mostly everyone were prohibited from going out, the government finally eased off the restrictions in Manila and the neighboring province. After the announcement, we hurriedly organized a Sunday fishing trip to a nearby spot around 3 hours south of the Metro. On our way, I noticed that there were some quarantine checkpoints but the officers were not really checking anyone coming in and going out. 

We were supposed to launch the boat on a beach resort but the resort caretaker said she was not informed in advance and she refused our request to park and launch because "of the threat of Covid19". We had no choice but to park on a residential lot about a kilometer away. Lucky us, the parking spot was near a ravine and we needed to walk far to the beach (we paid P300 per day for that "sweet" parking spot :-O). Our original plan was to start fishing at 5am but because of the issue with the parking, we started at past 7 in the morning. 

I tied on a 15g micro jig on a 15lb flouro leader on my Ize Certate 2506 loaded with 0.8PE (10lbs). The rod I was using is my fave Daiwa Emeraldas 8ft eging rod. The area was shallow (15-20meters) and was perfect for micro jigs. The only problem was the wind. The boat had no anchor or a drift chute. (I don't think the boatman knew how to use a chute in the first place. Maybe I should bring one and teach him on the next trip). Without a chute on a strong wind, we drifted really fast and the waves kept hitting us broadside. This made fishing really uncomfortable especially when there are 4 of you in a small boat. 

After an hour or so of small CnR groupers, I finally got solid hookup. At first, it felt like it was another grouper but a little bigger but when I turned the handle, the fish dashed and pulled drag for a good 15-20 seconds. After the initial run, it just stopped and remained motionless. I tried pumping the rod but it would not budge. I thought that it ran inside its hole and snagged my line. But after a few more tugs, the fish pulled drag again. The fight perhaps lasted for about 15 minutes. I was very worried that the banca's outrigger will fray my line (i was sitting in the middle of the small boat). The rod's tip was barely over the outrigger. When the fish finally came up to the surface, a fellow angler tried to net it with the only net on board. The net was almost as big as the fish and the head barely fits inside it. Luckily, it did and was able to land it. The hook fell off while we were taking pictures. It barely penetrated the jaw. It is my biggest diamond trevally on a micro jig so far. 4.2kg. It was my only fish on that trip. The spot was great but when the wind started to pick up, our jigs were barely hitting the bottom and the jigging action did not impart the correct action because our lines were almost horizontal. If only we had an anchor or a drift chute.

I almost lost my rod to a rogue cast of a boat mate. (Two guides pulled out from the blank. I hope the blank is still in tact). Just before going home, the rod and reel of my boat mate sank in the bottom of the ocean. My popper got tangled in his line during my cast. I didn't realize he was rigging behind me while I was casting. My other boatmate captured the rod and reel while was about to hit the water.

The trip was full of lessons. First is not put too many anglers in a small boat. The rent will be cheaper but it may cost you more if something happens. And believe me, accidents can happen. One or two is ideal. Also, do not forget to bring an anchor and a drift chute. Chances are, your boatman will not bring one and you'd never know when you will need them.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

My new ride - Old Town Topwater PDL 120

Since last year, I have been saving up for a new toy. I initially wanted a motorcycle (a used Vespa to be exact). But the Covid19 pandemic made a huge impact on our expenses and I was not able to save enough for it. Aside from that, the wife is absolutely against buying a motorcycle. So, I negotiated for a used boat and outboard instead. She agreed on one condition, I needed to find a storage area for it. Long story short, after plenty of measuring and surveying, I realized that a boat is too big and storing it is virtually impossible since the garage has limited space so I abandoned the idea altogether.

Just recently, I chanced upon a display unit of an Old Town Topwater 120 PDL kayak at an absolute bargain. Brand new, it is sold at around US$2,300 (around Php108,000) but I got this at just a fraction of a cost. Let's just say that it's way cheaper than a used motorcycle or a used boat with an outboard. The catch is that it has some minor scratches and the paddle clip is missing.  Also, it doesn't come with a paddle. (I think new kayaks does not come with paddles anyway). Other than these cons, everything looks and works like new.

I already have a kayak - it's an Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 and it's a nice kayak specially for open water. Unfortunately, paddling can be really tiring. Paddling while fishing is also a challenge. Aside from that, it's hard to stand up and fish on this kayak. When I saw this Topwater 120 PDL, I did not hesitate and got it. Depending on my testing of the new Topwater 120 PDL, I might sell the OK Prowler. We'll see.

Initial impression is that it's heavy (40kg + without the pedal drive and seat) compared to the Ocean Kayak which is just 22kg. Although the Topwater is shorter at 12ft, it's wider (36in. OK Prowler is just 28in wide) and I think the plastic is thicker. There are bigger and heavier hatches and it has a couple of Yakattack rails, seat rails, rubber accessory pockets, and a couple of EVA foam foot pads. It also feels really solid. The build quality is absolutely impressive. 

The pedal drive looks sealed and smooth. It looks brand new and has never touched water. Even the prop looks and feels unused.

The seat is so so. It was expected as reviews of the kayak mentioned this shitty seat. The one I got was scratched all over but the fabric is pristine and the dog loves it. Eventually, I might replace this with the premium seat when it breaks.

The kayak also can be hoisted on the ceiling. Thanks to Youtube, I was able to DIY a kayak storage system using some pulleys, shackles, heavy duty polyester ropes, old lumber, and eye bolts with drop-in concrete anchor sleeves to hoist the kayak under the balcony floor. The total cost for the contraption is just around P900. To be honest, I think my wife was pleased with the result. I just need to replace the cheap cast iron pulleys that I got from the local hardware store with heavy duty stainless pulleys. Those cast-iron pulleys are a pain to use, they are so noisy, and they tend to fray the rope.

The only problem now is that we're on another community lockdown due to Covid19. We cannot go out for un-essential travel -- like fishing. This means that trial run on the water will have to wait.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Personal best Largemouth bass

My personal best. Two chunky large mouth bass caught using one worm on a texas rig (3/0 wide gap hook and 1/2oz tungsten bullet weight).

I have been fishing this spot for so many years and the biggest I got was a 2.2kg. This was my luckiest bass fishing trip to date. I sure wish the community lock down will ease up soon so I can go back to the spot. I will surely bring my kayak next time.

3.3kg (7.2lbs) Largemouth Bass

2.7kg (6.0lbs) Largemouth Bass
I was using my old and ever reliable K'Slabo Lakeforce Stage 604MH rod paired with an I'ze Custom Color Team Daiwa Z reel (Daiwa TDZ tuned by Ize Customs).