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The Rabbit Hunt
By Benaiah Fogle
A mention of the word Danggit in Filipino company is usually met with grins of delight and expressions of Lami-a uy! Sarap yan! and so on. This same word in the company of expats is met with groans and expressions of disgust. This is an article about Danggit, well the live one anyway, and its place in fishing here in the Philippines.
The word Danggit is a well-known name in Visayan for one of the many species of Rabbitfish inhabiting Philippine waters. Rabbitfish are also known in English as Spinefoots, and are known by many different names around the rest Philippines. Some of the names of the more well-known species include: Samaral, Kitong, and Danggit.
These fish are primarily a saltwater fish however they can be found in estuaries and even up stream in freshwater rivers. They also range in size from small almost minnow size fish to large kilo size fish. They all are generally round and compressed in body shape with small mouth bordered by lips that look as if they are ready to kiss. They range in color from mottled brown and green to silver, spotted, streaked and ever darker with more dramatic colors.
Rabbitfish all possess painful sharp spines all over their bodies. This is the reason they are called Spinefoots. A prick from one of these venomous spines leaves a throbbing pain for a long while. Fishermen need to exercise caution when handling this fish for that reason.
The mainly vegetarian diet of the Rabbitfish leads them close to the shore line around the country in search of seaweed and other plant matter. They often come in with the tide to shallow water to harvest the seaweed growing on the tidal flats. They often travel in schools which can be easily identified by the slivery flashes of the fish as they feed in schools on the algae on the seabed.
Rabbitfish are edible and make for fair table fare. Local favourite recipes for Rabbitfish include; Grilled Kitong (stuffed with onions and tomatoes), Steamed Kitong with Sweet and Sour Sauce and Fried Kitong. Small Rabbitfish are also a popular fish to salt and dry. Known simply as Danggit, these dried fish are then deep fried and eaten for breakfast lunch or dinner. My wife calls it her Philippine bacon. 😀 When the dried Danggit are fried there usually a pungent fishy smell that hangs in the air. This is usually what deters most foreigners from enjoying this Philippine delicacy.
Float Fishing – The small mouths on these fish along with their sharp algae scraping teeth present a challenge that frustrates and deters many fishermen. There however is a technique for catching Rabbitfish that works and with a little practice angler both you and old can enjoy the thrill of fishing for Rabbitfish.
Making a Danggit Rig is the first step. The rig includes a float with a swivel attached beneath onto which two lengths or at least 18” of light leader line are tied. Two small split shots are pressed onto the lines near the ends and then two long shank hooks of the smallest available size are tied at the ends. The long shanks help keep the fishes’ teeth from cutting the main line. There are two favourite baits for catching Rabbitfish. The first and most popular is the boiled cooking banana (Saba) and the other is glutinous rice. Rabbitfish seem to prefer these sort of baits though than can be caught on other things. Once small pieces of banana or sticky rice are cut and placed on the end of the hooks the rig is ready to be cast.
Local fishermen often chum the spot there plan on fish both before and during the time they fish. Rabbitfish feed throughout the day and so can be caught all day long. In areas where large predator fish are present small Rabbitfish when caught can be used as live bait.
Salvage – Another less palatable way that local fishermen catch these fish is by using specialized “salvage” rigs. This rig is designed to attract the fish to a bait which has two large hooks behind it. When the fisherman feels the Rabbitfish nibbling on the bait they jerk the line in attempt to snag the fish on the large hooks. This is obviously not a method used when fishermen are practicing catch and release because it often leaves large wounds in the fish. The local sport fishing community looks down upon such a method because of that harmful result.
Pana – Because of their large round profiles, Rabbitfish make great targets for spearfishermen. They are also not a very shy fish and will often swim within spear distance of fishermen. Locals use homemade spearguns made of a piece of wood, a length of stainless steel bar and rubber straps. Spearmen either swim along shorelines, rocks, or reefs in search of fish or they set a bait in a good area and wait for the fish to congregate.
Now you know the basics of fishing for Rabbitfish.
FishRmen Bait and Tackle will be giving away a brand new CRONY Aggress fishing rod to the person who sends in the most impressive photo of a fish caught on their FishRmen Dyneema Braided Line!
– Picture with a description of the catch, location, time, and bait must be emailed to: email@example.com
– Fish must be caught using FishRmen Dyneema braided line
– Fish must have been caught during contest dates
– Contest open for freshwater, brackish and saltwater caught fish
– Contests includes both pond caught and wild caught fish
– Photos must include the Angler, Fish, and Reel (with line seen) [See our ex. pic below]
– Multiple entries allowed per person
– Contest time: March 15 – June 15 2014
1st place = Crony Rod; [Crony Aggress 6’6” ML 3pcs rod]
2nd place = Dyneema Braid;
3rd place = Fishing Lure
– There is no age limit for this competition
– It is preferred that entries be of fish caught in the Philippines however we will accept entries of fish caught outside the country provided they meet all other criteria
We held a Fly Fishing Seminar and Casting session on Feb. 23, 2014. A visiting experienced fly fisherman, Sven Cederberg shared some of his knowledge and expertise on fly fishing basics, tactics and fly casting. The seminar was held at Vista Mar Beach Resort located on Mactan Island in Cebu City. We had six people that attended and had a great time hearing from Sven and learning more about fly fishing.
Here are some pictures:
The seminar consisted of an introduction by Sven to who he is and where he fishes. He shared his experiences fishing both fresh and salt water in both Sweden and New Zealand. He then shared some of the basics of fly fishing and showed us some of his go to patterns for both fresh and salt water. Sven also showed us the Perfect Loop knot he uses for connecting his fly line to his leader. After the informative seminar we all headed to the jetties on the water to practice casting. We had a couple looks from some small barracuda but no fish landed.
If you are visiting Cebu and would like to interact with local anglers as well as share your experience or expertise let us know. We would love to organize more seminars, training/fishing sessions or get togethers.
It can be quite difficult and confusing trying to figure out the correct name of a fish you catch here. Here is a little info on fish names and on why it is such a task;
Linguistic Diversity – The Philippines is a country composed of more than 7,000 islands. There are 8 major languages spoken throughout the country (Cebuano, Bikol, Hiligaynon, Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Waray, and Pangasinan) and there are many distinct dialects of those languages. Each language and many times dialects have their own and often distinct name for a particular fish. A Caranx ignobilis (Giant Trevally) is known as a Talakitok to a Tagalog speaking person and as a Mamsa to a Visayan. Depending on the region you are in when you catch a particular fish you will hear a different name. We list the English names and the scientific names here on Fishing the Philippines because the names of fish are more standardized.
A Lack of Awareness – Another reason why learning the correct name of a fish can be difficult here is due to the fact that much of the population here knows little of the diversity of fish species found here in the Philippines. Most people will know the names of the fish they directly come in contact with; Fish they buy to eat or fish raised in ponds or lakes nearby. That is why one of our goals here on Fishing the Philippines is to show the diversity of species found here and to teach an awareness and appreciation for these fish.
Incorrect Naming – Another problem when determining a fish’s name here is when people tell you what they think the fish is. Often this means that you will be getting the name of a fish that this fish reminds the person of. We have found that local fishermen and fish vendors are able to give the more accurate names of fish species found in various regions.
Introduced Species – This creates a unique problem as well because these fish do not have local names. The local communities create names for these fish which can also lead to confusion. The name Black Mass or Black Mask is a name used in parts of Laguna to refer to the Largemouth Bass (a species introduced to some lakes from America). It however is also used for some invasive species of carp such as bighead carp and silver carp.
Our task – Fishing the Philippines was started because we noticed a lack of information when it came to fish and fishing here in the Philippines. Our goal is to teach conservation and appreciation of the wealth that we have teaming in the water here in the Philippines.
How you can help – If you know the local names of the fish we post please let us know. We would like our site to be a comprehensive resource for sport fishing and you can help be a part of that. Also feel free to contribute to our fish species list. You can do that by sending us pictures and information about fish you have caught here. We are also glad to promote and share information regarding fishing events, conservation projects and other educational programs involving fish.
This is a local fishing method typically used for fishing very deep water that would either be too tiring or too time consuming to fish with a handline. The technique involves fastening a buoy of some sort (traditionally a couple sections of bamboo) to a long main line. Local nylon is used for the main line which is then tied to an stick that has a branch off at the top. Guava wood is a favorite for this because of it is strong, dense and durable. The guava branch is tied to a rock to create an anchor weight. The mainline which is tied to the top of the guava branch is also tied with light nylon to the base of the anchor. If the anchor is snagged on the bottom the light nylon can be broken by pulling on the main line. This allows the anchor to pivot at a different angle and hopefully pull free from the snag. Near the anchor a dropper loop is tied to which a leader line is tied. Either one or two hooks are tied onto the leader and baited with cut bait such as mackerel or other fish. This rig is then dropped into deep water where fish are suspected. The Sanipit is left usually overnight and retrieved in the morning. This type of fishing allows the local fishermen to fish water from 100 – 300 meters in depth. Many species of deepwater fish can be caught. Some of these include; deep water Snapper, large Grouper, Emperors, Jobfish, Oilfish, Snoek, Amberjacks, etc.
Fishermen normally place multiple Sanipit rigs at one time around a general area. This helps them to triangulate spots that hold fish. There are some difficulties with this fishing method. Rigs can get hopelessly snagged which causes loss of line and some times tackle. Large fish can also drag the buoy away or cut the mainline. Theft by other fishermen is also another problem which is why many place the Sanipit at dusk and collect at dawn.
Here is a picture of the Sanipit anchor/weight:
I will try to get some pictures of the actual rig and fish caught using this rig. If you have any additional information or photos to add or if you have any questions please leave a comment or send us a message.
This is a local form of jigging for mackerel and other small fish. It involves dropping a long main line with many snoods (or short branch leaders) almost to the bottom. The main line is then jigged up and down by hand to attract fish throughout the water column. The hooks are similar to small sabiki like hooks that are dressed with small feathers, tinsel or other similar fabrics or plastics. This is typically done around Payaw (buoys) in deeper water to catch small schooling pelagics. Unlike in the west these small mackerel and other small species that are caught by this method are eaten and not used as bait. These rigs can be quite productive when big schools are present. Guys who use this technique are quick to tell though of how they have often been snagged by many of the small hooks when a large predator takes one of the smaller fish that is struggling on the line. The way to avoid this is to firmly hold the main line so that the snood will snap off instead of drag the main line and other small hooks through your hand. The snoods are usually very light poundage (4-8lbs) with the smallest of the locally available hooks.
This technique is an excellent way to catch baitfish when fishing Payaws for Dorado, Tanigue, Tuna and other large predator fish. They are quite easy to make although they are a bit time consuming.
Send us your pictures or other info you have about this fishing method and we’ll add it to the site.
Here are some pics of me showing off some of the new Blood Red gear. We did a river trekk in Cebu and tested their new Dry Bags and some of their new Fusion board shorts. The Dry Bags are great and as the photo shows did not allow a drop of water in even though we trekked literally up the river. The Fusion shorts handled the water well, dried fast and had some convenient pockets that are often not present in board shorts. These guys have well designed gear great for the amihan and habagat seasons here. Click on either picture or on the link below to check out the Blood Red site and order online. I have been trying to get them to add a line of sports wear specifically for fishing. Who knows maybe next year 🙂
This is another post about Tadlac Lake, also known as Crocodile or Alligator Lake. This lake is located in Brgy. Tadlac, Los Banos, Laguna. I had not heard of the lake until recently and have since made several trips there to see what I could catch. I hear that there are large snakeheads, large carp, large pangasius, and many other kinds of fish in this lake. I have tried for the previously named fish with out luck. I have caught Ayungin, Tilapia, and various types of Bia there.
The lake is quite a beautiful and secluded little lake nestled back away from the hustle and bustle of Los Banos. As can be seen from google maps, the lake sits next to Laguna Lake, though is not connected. I have heard there is an underwater tunnel, but this may just be rumor.
I have also read that this lake is very deep, similar to the other volcanic lakes of Laguna. I heard that someone tried to measure the center with a fishing line and reel and found the depth at the center around 78 meters. That is quite a depth for a relatively small lake such as this.
I also heard that there used to be pangasius and tilapia fish pens on the lake until the local government stopped them and had the fish released into the lake. The locals say that the pangasius in the lake are up to 20kgs. This may just be rumor, but if you watch the surface of the water you can see large fish surface. According to some friends a 40kg carp was caught in a net in this lake a while back.
below is a picture of the lake that I took from the Los Banos high school of the arts when Dowie and I took a trip up there. Sorry the pic is a little blurry.
If any of you guys have fished this lake and caught stuff, let me know. I am curious as to how to catch some of the giants that live here.
Fish Species List: (these are the fish I have caught or am aware are present in the lake)
– Pangasius Catfish
– Giant Snakehead
I was bottom fishing in the Mabacan River in Laguna and caught this soft shelled turtle. The river is full of these turtles which stay along the bottom of the river and periodically come to the surface for air. I have unintentionally caught them on worms, chicken liver, chicken skin, and doughballs. These turtles take a variety of bait and have a tendency to swallow the hook. They can be difficult to unhook, but pliers help. I am not sure what species these are.