“SO, TELL me. Do you train in fishing?” I asked my cousin, whose face lights up as he talked passionately about it.
“It’s more like knowledge, like on good fishing spots. One of the good fishing spots (in Siargao) is the three rocks sticking out in the middle of the ocean. The bay fish goes around there, so the big fish goes there too to eat them,” he explained.
He continued: “Another good spot is the river mouth. The baby fish in the river comes out there into the ocean, so the big fish waits there to eat them. So there’s a lot of fish there.”
Only 14 then, Paul Gabriel “Paulie” Minor had already competed with the elite fishermen in the world.
He won the Siargao International Game Fishing tournament last year after besting more than 60 local and international anglers.
Paulie, who turned 16 with twin sister Alice last month, caught the biggest sailfish, weighing 38.8 kilos, that propelled him to the top of the two-day contest.
The sailfish is actually the fastest fish in the world. It is able to swim at the speed of 68 miles per hour (mph), followed by the marlin at 50 mph.
Paulie was the youngest contestant. It was his first time to join the tournament yet he won first place.
This year, Paulie joined again, but only came in second.
Guess who the winner is? His father Paul, who taught him how to fish when he was still very young.
Paulie recalled that his father had lost hope as he didn’t catch any fish on the first day. “I got three, but he got nothing.”
He said that on the last day, his father didn’t wake up early, thinking he had no chance at all.
“And then something clicked and the magic started to happen. He caught five fishes in the afternoon, including a 17-kilo wahoo. I don’t know how he did it,” Paulie said.
At times, I have to ask Paulie to pause and explain to me some of the jargons. I told him to bear with me as I’m a newbie in fishing.
As a noob, what do I need if I want to go fishing? Paulie said that you don’t need anything at first.
“There are guides who have the equipment you need. After you go for a couple of times, you’ll know what you need and you can start buying,” the teen angler said.
He said there are different types of fishing rods, depending on the targeted species.
But for a normal rod, with a 30-pound line, one can already get sailfish, barracuda and wahoo, Paulie said.
His father Paul said they use five rods at the same time when they were out in the ocean. “We put lures, a variety of baits, in the rod.”
They also put dead fishes and squirts, which are squid imitation lures, on the rod to attract the fish.
My uncle also said there are good fishing spots in Negros, particularly along the Tañon Strait, a body of water that separates the islands of Negros and Cebu.
Paulie said they go fishing all the time in Bais City, Negros Oriental.
He said the best time for fishing in the morning is from dawn until 10 a.m., and in the afternoon, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
He also said they are considering the tide when catching a fish.
“The best time to go fishing is during the low tide. Small fish gets moved out because there’s less water,” he said.
Paulie said they went back to Siargao last June, not to catch a sailfish, but to chase marlins.
He said they have been fishing for days, and on the fifth day, they caught a break and landed a 90-kilo black marlin.
He said it was the third year they tried to catch it because marlins are rare. “They stay far offshore.”
Paulie said that marlins “fight really hard,” and his struggle lasted for an hour and 15 minutes. “My back was ‘destroyed,’ it was so tiring,” he added.
He said: “When caught, marlins ran really far and don’t get tired, and they swim deep, like 200 feet down. It’s hard when they’re down because it’s like you’re picking up a hard rock. You have to pull the line really slow.”
(After our conversation, I was quite dumbfounded. I have learned a lot about the “sport.” Who knows, I might get into fishing in my next vacation.)