The Reckoning: The ‘Sword’ Just Got Bigger

January 3, three days after I lost my topwater lure to some biggie, I went back for some reckoning … this time with Dennis, my bird photography buddy. I went to Ternate, Cavite, he went to Mt. Palay Palay for bird photography. I settled in a small riverbank adjacent to a lagoon where I lost my P322 topwater lure from some fish that I failed to identify and land. The fish must have been huge to snap a 16 pounder braid and took off my one and only topwater lure.

Without my topwater lure, I decided to fish for some kansusuwit (Feathered River-garfish) as live bait. This species seem to be a perfect live topwater lure. It was actually my first time to intentionally go for live baitfish and here trying out these kansusuwits. I rigged my first rod to catch some kasusuwits with a size 10 hook and laced it with some diced shrimp. As soon as the bait landed on the water, a few of the river-garfish nearby raced for the shrimp and in no time, I reeled in one. Immediately, I carefully unhooked the fish and transfered it on my 2nd rod which is rigged with a size 6 hook.

As soon as I tossed the baitfish by some 10 meters on the deep end of the riverbank, I got a strike and I instantly set the hook. Then whaaaam … something very strong is pulling down the line. It fought strongly for some 30 seconds, then the line went loose. I thought it got away but as I reel in some line, it pulled down my line again and showed it’s silvery body near the surface. This time, I reeled it fast as excitement rush through me. As I reeled it out of the water, it was some needlefish. Then I realized it wasn’t hooked but it got itself entangled with the line and it has not swallowed the baitfish. Just as I was about to grab it, it was able to free itself. Luckily, it fell on the sandbar and I was able to prevent it from getting back to the water.

Here it is, a 15.5 incher Spottail Needlefish (Strongylura strongylura):

With its not so large mouth, I figured the needlefish must have rolled itself after it snatched the bait entangling itself with the line in the process.

Live-baiting for the rest of the day proved futile. I got not even a single strike after the needlefish.

Thinking my luck has ran out, I shifted my focus on the wild ‘saltwater’ tilapias that is so plenty nearby. With some worms, I was able to land a few. This is also my first time to catch this ‘saltwater’ variety.

Then I called up Dennis to see how he is doing, he got something that eventually was identified as a rare migrant, an Asian Brown Flycatcher.

We went home very much contented with our catch.

As for me, it was a reckoning day indeed and I was able to land a bigger “sword”.


On The Last Day of 2011, I landed 13 ‘swordfish’!

Few days prior, been contemplating to find some new fishing site for some wild fish species near my place. I tried those in the CCP Complex and snagging Tilapias was not for me. I thought of Valenzuela’s but its stressful traffic and crazy motorcyclists turned me off and Subic’s just too far and expensive.

I thought of trying Cavite as the next best place so I found myself raring to go to Ternate. I used to go here for bird photography so the place should be quite easy to navigate. I thought going to either Puerto Azul or Caylabne would be a treat.

I went to Puerto Azul to check out their pier that has been unused for quite a long time but security personnel barred me from fishing saying their policy now prohibits recreational fishing due to some recent accidents involving foreign nationals. As fishing in Puerto is now prohibited, I thought of going to Caylabne but the thought of paying P500 for entrance scared me away.

So I just roamed around Ternate and found myself in some mangrove laden lagoon teeming with wild Tilapias. As soon as I was able to deploy, I had my first cast using a topwater lure. As I retrieve it .. it was like whaaam! A huge strike, then a snap. As I retrieve, only a few inches of my 16 lbs braided terminal and a swivel were left. “@#$*&%^&%@#$%^ Sayang!” I told myself.

Then I realize that it was already past 2pm and I still haven’t landed any after the big one that got away. I have deployed 2 rods, alternating various baits. I tried doughbait, peeled shrimp, artificial ones but nada! Changed hook sizes to the smallest and still no takers. Around 3pm as the tide is rushing in, I switched back to #6 with some peeled shrimp when some river garfish took it. Then another, then another til I landed a baker’s dozen. Maybe their bellies were full early in the day, or was it the size of my hook? Or was it the bait? Was it because of the rushing tide? I am not sure but that will be charged to experience.

I went home with a handful of river garfish that looks very delicious and vowed to return to do some reckoning with the one that took my P322 topwater lure.

Here are my 13 ‘swordfishes’!

Feathered river-garfish (Zenarchopterus dispar). Locally called ‘kansusuwit’. Did I say feathered? Look at the long beaks! I am in familiar territory!

And here is what I did to some feathered friends with long beaks the next morning! 🙂

Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
Local Name(s) : Lawin (Luzon), Da-pay (Negros)
Photographed @ Mount Palay Palay, Cavite, Philippines
November 8, 2009

This bird is rarely seen perched, unless you are in a zoo, and is commonly seen soaring way up high during mid-day sun-bathing while in flight. But me and a birding buddy got lucky! 🙂

It was after lunch, and almost 2pm already, when we realized that we have yet to shoot our first bird for the day. We have been out on this sortie  since 4:00am driving from Manila to Cavite together with other bird photographers from PBPF.

Disappointed and tired, Dennis and I said “tara … uwian na”. With the camera on my lap, we decided to drive by the area we thought the Mt Palay Palay fairy keeps her treasures before we start driving back home. As I slow down the vehicle as we approach the area, all of a sudden,  a loud flapping of wings and a huge shadow pass by overhead. With still engine on, we were left motionless as the shadow flew away. “@#$%^ .. sayang yun a!!!” was all we could whisper. A familiar raptor, flew and disappeared.

But as I peer through my side of the open window, something looked familiar perched on a tree and is staring at me. With the rush of adrenalin, pulled the handbrake and KACHUG .. instant silence ..  engine noise went dead… I forgot to put the gears on neutral when I released the clutch!!!.

Then “pare meron pang isa”. And there was a total rush of adrenalin for me and my birding buddy Dennis. I instantly reached out the camera on my lap and there a burst of shutters drowned the silence as the large raptor hops from one branch to another. Then I said to Dennis, “pare … exposure check!” and resumed the shooting spree until the beautiful raptor flew. We could not believe what just happened. We were able to photograph a Brahminy Kite on a perch.

We decided to call it a day as the captures that we had of the raptor were more than enough to energize us for a week. But as we thought we were about to go home, the good fairy of Mt. Palay Palay just showered us with her avian treasures. We thought it was time to go home, but it was actually just the start of our birding day. We finally called it a day more than 3 hours later.

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