Daily Archives: June 9, 2011

Cresent Grunter (Terapon jarbua)

fish species philippines

Grunter caught on a lure

Common Name:   Grunter, Terapon, Thornfish, Crescent Perch

Local Name:  Bagaong (Tagalog);  Bugaong, Gunggong (Cebuano)

Max Size:  36 cm

BiodiversityMarine, Brackish, Freshwater,

Depth:  1 – ?? m

Fishing Season:  All Year Long

Minimum Size Limit:  none

Recommended Bait/Lures:  Shrimp, small fish, crustaceans, small flashy lures

IUCN Red List Status:  Least Concern (LC)

These are a relatively small fish that can be caught all over the Philippines from the shore or rivers that flow into the sea. They are most commonly found over sandy bottoms along beaches coastline and estuaries.   They can be caught on lures or live bait and can grow up to around a kilo in size.  They are known to make a grunting or croaking sound when handled and often will tighten their bodies and expose their many spines. They should be handled with care.  They are a fair food fish with a white flesh that retains a slight fishy taste after it is cooked.  These fish are not a primary target of sport fishermen and instead are often considered as pests. They are fun fish however for children to fish for as they will readily take almost any bait.


Surf Fishing in Cebu

Giant Mottled Eel ( Anguilla marmorata )

Anguilla marmorata

Common Name:  Freshwater Eel,

Local Name  Igat, Palos (Tagalog),  Kasili (Cebuano)

Max Size:   200 cm (20.5 kgs)

Biodiversity: Marine, Brackish, Freshwater

Depth:  1 – 400 m

Fishing Season:  All Year Long

Minimum Size LimitNone

Recommended Bait:  Shrimp, Worms, Crabs, Fish, Frogs;

IUCN Red List Status:  Least Concern (LC)

Eels are one of the most elusive and difficult to catch fish in fresh water in the Philippines. We consider freshwater eels to be one of the prize fish to catch in freshwater.  The freshwater species are quite unlike their saltwater relatives which are numerous and often considered pests.  Freshwater eels feed mainly at night or during storms when rivers flood and are muddy.  This particular species reaches an impressive size of up to 20 kilos which makes them true river monsters.  Large eels can live in small rivers and streams often in places where they are least expected.  During the day the eels rest in deep holes and under rocks.  At night they leave the safety of their hiding places to feed.

Freshwater eels possess another unique characteristic that makes them quite amazing.  They live most of their lives in freshwater, however the migrates to the depths of the ocean to spawn.  Once they have spawned they return to the freshwater and the baby eels known as elvers follow.

Try fishing for eels at night or when the river is high and muddy with large earthworms, frogs or fish.

marbled eel

Baby Eel from Surigao

Spotted Barb (Puntius binotatus)


These small barbs are nuisance when you are fishing for larger fish.  They are small and are greeding eaters.  They usually tear up any live bait you bottom fish.   I have caught them thoughout Laguna in rivers and lakes.  I have seen these fish in the aquarium trade around laguna and manila.  They seem to make nice aquarium fish. They are known here in Laguna as One Spot or Paitan.

Threadfin Salmon (Eleutheronema tetradactylum)

Eleutheronema tetradactylum

This species is one of the popular gamefish here in the Philippines.  It is known locally (in the Tagalog regions) as Mamale or Mamali.  These fish normally school in bays, and other muddy or sandy bottom coastal waters.  They feed on a variety of smaller fish and shrimp.  Anglers typically target these fish using spoons, casting jigs, crank baits or topwater lures.  One major destination for Mamale Fishing is Manila Bay.  Boats can be hired in Navotas.  The captains take out anglers to chase the boils and catch Mamale up to around 4kgs and many other smaller species of fish.

Jun caught the one pictured above while using a light setup (3000 size reel loaded with 10lbs braid) while fishing a crank bait.  I have also caught juveniles while surf casting in Puerto Galera.


I have caught these on minnow lures in Batangas and in Mindoro while surf fishing.  The largest I caught was over 20 inches.

Common Carp ( Cyprinus carpio )


Common Name Carp, European Carp, Mirror Carp, Leather Carp

Local NameKarpa, (Tagalog); 

Max Size:   110 cm (40+kgs)

BiodiversityFreshwater, Benthopelagic

Depth:  1 – ?? meters

Fishing Season:  All Year Long

Minimum Size Limit:  None

Recommended Bait/Lures:  masa (dough bait), worms 

IUCN Red List Status Status:  Vulnerable (VU)**

This introduced species can be found all over the country in ponds, rivers, and lakes.  They are bottom feeders that can be caught on worms, corn, doughballs, and other natural baits.

There are many Koi or Ornamental Carp in the Philippines as well.  These fish are closely related to common carp only they have many varied color patterns.  Originally confined to private ponds and aquariums these ornamental fish are now present in wild waters around the country.

Here is a wild caught koi from central Luzon:

carp fishing philippines

**The wild populations of Europe are considered vulnerable not the introduced Philippine population.


Philippines Rod and Reel Record:

Angler:  Franz Villamar

Location:  Bustos Dam, San Rafael, Bulacan


Weight:   6.6 kgs

Bait:  boilies

carp fishing philippines


There are many varieties of Tilapia that can be caught in the country.  All of these species were introduced.  Tilapia can be difficult to catch at times because they primarily feed on vegetation.  I have fished for them in may lakes and rivers here in laguna and have caught them on many different things including worms, doughballs, corn, spinners, small plastic worms, flys, and more.  The first Tilapia is a 9″er that I caught in the Mabacan River on a worm.  The larger tilapia are known in this area as Pla pla.

Jaguar Guapote (Parachromis managuensis )

Common Name:   Jaguar Cichlid, Guapote, Wild Tilapia,

Local Name Dugong (Tagalog);  

Max Size:  55 cm


Depth:  1 – 10 m

Fishing Season:  All Year Long

Minimum Size Limit:  none

Recommended Bait/Lures:  Shrimp, small fish worms and lures

IUCN Red List Status:  Not Evaluated (NE)

These introduced cichlids can be found in lake Taal and in the ponds of the Wack Wack golf course and possibly other places as well.  They are typically small and aggressive and are fun little fish to fish for.  There are much like Crappies in the US and can be caught using worms or small lures.  These fish apparently can reach almost a kilo. They are known locally around Lake Taal as Dugong.

Sea Catfish ( Arius sp. )


Common Name:   Sea Catfish, Hardhead

Local Name  Kanduli (Tagalog);  Ito (Cebuano)

Max Size:  80 cm

BiodiversityMarine, Brackish, Freshwater

Depth:  1 – ?? m

Fishing Season:  All Year Long

Minimum Size Limit:  10 inches

Recommended Bait/Lures:  Earthworms, Shrimp, shellfish

IUCN Red List Status:  Not Evaluated (NE)

Sea Catfish are a catfish species found in both fresh and saltwater around the Philippines.  Species of this genus that have been recorded in the Philippines include; manillensis, maculatus, venosus, and arius. There are other possible genus of sea catfish found in Philippine waters however the Arius appears to be the most common.

Freshwater Catfish (Clarias batrachus)


clarius sp

native hito

Common Name:   Walking Catfish, 

Local Name:  Native Hito (Tagalog);  ??? (Cebuano)

Max Size:  47 cm

Biodiversity:  Freshwater

Depth:  0 – ? m

Fishing Season:  All Year Long

Minimum Size Limit:  none

Recommended Bait/Lures:  Worms, liver, stinkbaits

IUCN Red List Status:  Least Concern (LC)

This is called Native Hito or Hito Tagalog by the locals.

There is another kind of catfish that is common here as well, which are basically the same in appearance except that they are grey in color and usually a bit larger.  These are the “African Hito,” which were apparently imported for the aquaculture industry.  Though they are larger they apparently do not taste as good as their smaller endemic relatives.


philippine catfish