Regular readers may have noticed one of my earlier tweets about us being humbled by the fishes in a newly discovered fishing spot. Here’s the story.
On one of our weekend fishing trips we stumbled upon a lake with clear water fringed by vibrant green vegetation. All 5 of us practically jumped with joy seeing the many toman or giant snakeheads (Channa micropeltes) cruising the clear waters with the occasional surface explosions away from the waters edge – obviously the work of respectable size fishes.
In no time our favorite lures launched through the air and dived into the water. We held our breaths as our lures were being chased and followed. But that was it. That was about all those damn fish did. No bites except for one that took Alan’s surface lure which eventually had its hooks spat out by the fish.
We threw everything we had at them short of the tackle box. Poppers, crankbaits, plugs, pencils, soft plastics in all assortment of colors, in all shapes and sizes rained down onto the lake. But nothing. And to add to our frustration we could clearly see the fishes just feet away from us cruising in and out, up and down and turning to look at our passing lures only to turn away at the last moment.
What do we have to do to get these toman to bite? Live bait perhaps? Are they educated by being heavily fished?
Soon the activities simmered down with less fish spotted and splashes fewer in-between. I concluded that the giant snakeheads, being the aggressive fishes that they are, had initially been attracted by all the commotions we created but later retreated back into the depths after finding nothing that interests them.
We packed up and walked away dejected.
We’d soon be back. But not without some serious thinking to hopefully solve the puzzle of getting the giant snakeheads to bite.
This time we made the lake our first stop. To hopefully catch them during their breakfast. The big surface splashes were there but far out in the middle of the lake. While the lake edges looked conspicuously quiet. YTL and Lawrence went looking to catch our lunch (haruan or striped snakehead) while Alan and I went looking for giant snakehead action.
After 30 minutes or so of casting I felt something bit on the soft plastic I had on the end of the line. A few more casts later over the same spot the first fish was on. I have to admit it was kind of a relief! The fish though not exactly a giant gave a good account of itself on my 10-pound setup.
Shortly after, we were interrupted by the arrival of 4 ‘professional’ anglers. These guys are the no nonsense type that believes in natural bait and heavy tackle. No fish is safe from them.
We moved to another spot to avoid the ruckus that these meat-hunters were making and it was a good thing that we did. I got all excited seeing a school of deep-red toman fry making intermittent rises not far from us. The dark red fry-ball will then dive and disappear into the depths only to reappear again nearby every couple of minutes.
We knew big mama and papa is around fending off predators. Cast like crazy we did for almost a good hour. We could see papa toman poking its jaw out of the surface just next to the fry every now and then but no sign of mama. Until one time when a huge wake and I kid you not, a wave actually washed ashore just in front of where Alan and I were standing as something big swam by us.
I half couldn’t decide if I wanted to capture the moment on my camera or cast my lure! So I alternated between filming and casting. And then I heard Alan shout the fry-ball were rising just in front of YTL and he casted the Rapala Skitter Pop just beyond the commotion… pop, pop, pop – through the swirls and boom!, a loud splash as water erupted on the surface, line tightened resulting in aa good bend on YTL’s rod – the fight is on.
After a brief but exciting struggle big mama was quickly landed, photographed, weighted and release back to her babies. Brooding giant snakeheads must be released, as quickly as possible, in order to encourage the survival of the next generation of fish.
One of the earlier said pro-angler unfortunately spotted the commotion and ran over and squatted behind us as a spectator. I only realized his presence after we released the fish when he asked in disbelief, with eyes wide open, “why did you release the fish?”!
I told him straight in his face it’s for fun and to ensure the survival of the species and our sport of fishing! He replied “but there’s still papa fish in there to take care of the brood”! He shouted over at his three stooges and soon they were casting like men possessed into the water hoping to catch what I believe is the fish we had just released. Though the chances of the fish biting again is extremely remote it was a disturbing sight nonetheless.
I caught and released another two smaller toman that day. As with most of our weekend fishing trips, we called it a day just before noon. Overall a decent day out except for the sad attitude of those anglers whom we could see still casting with determination as we drove off.
Watch out for the video clip soon.