Friday, March 26, 2010

Shore Fishing at the Playground in Sri Lanka

The Playground is my self-declared favorite shore fishing location which I found along the natural coastal refuge of Bonnavista, also called Roumasalla, in Galle City of Southern Sri Lanka. The rocky coast is my gateway to the highly guarded and well preserved Bonnavista reef considered as the most diverse coral reel of this tiny but majestic island nation. The fishing spot is thriving with rich marine and aquatic life and home for many sought-after game fishes that can be caught while casting right from the comfort of the coast.

Among the type of fish I have either caught, hooked but not landed, saw or spotted from the rock platform serving as my little angling paradise of sort are several kinds of trevally, barracuda, groupers, rabbit fish or spinefoot, burrfish, trigger fish, parrotfish, wrasse, yellow tail, emperor, mullet, yellow and red snappers, bonefish and some other reef fishes I have yet to or cannot yet identify. Lots of huge fish were also seen roaming the waters from white to silver to blue to brown in color but we failed to entice using shrimp and squid cuts and several types of lures.

Since the last post of my fishing adventure in the Playground entitled “Fun Shore Fishing in Bonnavista (Roumassala) in Sri Lanka”, I have twice returned to the place. The first comeback was quite worrisome because waves were huge and fiercely hitting the shoreline though not as strong as the one we experienced before and posted here. :-)

In constant search of fishing adventures though, I always manage to carry out the passion even in seemingly unforgiving condition. Applying some safely measures and precautions and the fun still went on. After all, we were on the shore and it was less risky even when faced with a rather rough sea. :)

It is really fun shore fishing in the Playground although what we have been catching lately are small to medium sized fishes only. The rabbit fish or “kitong” as called in the Philippines is really a good eating fish which we always look forward to take home for wonderful culinary creation.

For that particular day, our fish were very fresh when they reached our accommodation as they were kept alive during the entire fishing activity by putting them in a small packet of water right on the surface of the rocky coast, probably formed by the huge splash of water the night before, and only taken out when we were about to leave the Playground.

The second return was welcomed with a really tranquil sea. The whether was fine, the water was calm and shore fishing was at its best as far as the condition is concerned.

Whilst we have been catching good eating fishes every time, I am still dreaming of the big catch capable of pumping the adrenaline high like the huge trevally I fought and lost last year. My friend Rene had a good start catching delicious rabbit fish and juvenile grouper.

Hopeful of a massive pull to my rod which would indicate a big catch, I tried casting several types of lures - poppers, shallow divers, swim bait, soft plastic, etc. but still the elusive strike did not happen. Maybe I am doing it the wrong way. I changed to casting chunks of squid to target the small fish schooling the site. Surprisingly, a moderate pull of my rod happened. My reel slightly screamed and I realized I was fighting a nice fish bigger than Rene’s takes. The fight was short and not so intense but has provided the biggest catch of the day.

We caught another small but colorful reef fish, probably a juvenile parrotfish. It’s really strikingly gorgeous but tiny. :-)

Suddenly, the same kind of huge burrfish or “tugatongan” we hooked 5 times before but failed to land, appeared in the water. I immediately changed tackle and attached a wire line and a bigger hook. I baited it with huge piece of squid and casted where the burrfish was seen. After less than a minute I got a bite and saw the big burrfish at the end of my terminal tackle, I slightly jerk the rod tip to properly set the hook but unfortunately I missed setting it right. As I was struggling to put some bait again, the hungry burrfish bit Rene’s offering and he had the chance.

Rene played the fish in an attempt to tire it while thinking of ways on how to lift it from the water using his small line. I must admit that while we are always hoping to catch a big fish, we are ill-equipped to handle such a situation. The surface of the water is about 3 meters below us and we do not have gaff or landing net yet. Both essential gadgets are still under construction in my room.

Our only chance of landing big fish like that one is for the line to hold on and not snap as we are reeling the fish up. The burrfish’ sharp teeth are another problem for the mono leader of Rene. For several minutes, Rene very carefully kept the fish afloat thinking it will eventually die if maintained on the surface for a long time.

Surprisingly, another burrfish approached the hooked fish as if it was trying to offer some help but swam down below the rocks after several seconds. Rene patiently maintained the fish on the surface. But as he was trying to bring the fish to the other side where it was lower, the inevitable happened. The line snapped leaving the hook on the fish’s mouth but once again free. Rene was a bit exhausted and dumbfounded. It was the second time that the burrfish outsmarted us. :-)

It seems the appearance of burrfish drove other fishes away. We found it quite hard to get another bite. Since the sun was then feasting on our rough but sensitive skin, we decided to call it day and return some other time – definitely with either a gaff or landing net or both.

The modest catch and big enjoyment we had were enough reasons to consider our weekend grand. We look forward to another weekend when by that time, we hope to finally outsmart that burrfish. c“,)

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